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Blog : comparatives and superlatives

Theory – Comparatives and Superlatives

Theory – Comparatives and Superlatives

We use comparative adjectives when we want to compare two things or two people. Superlatives are used, however, to show the difference between more than two things or more than two people. For example: I am taller than my sister. I am the tallest woman in my family. To form comparatives and superlatives you need to know the number of syllables in the adjective. Syllables are like “sound beats”.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that comparatives are almost always followed by the word ‘than’ and Superlatives are almost always preceded by the word ‘the’.

One syllable adjective ending in a silent ‘e’ – nice

  • Comparative – add ‘r’ – nicer  – Penny is nicer than Amy.
  • Superlative – add ‘st’ – nicest – Sheldon is the nicest character in the series.

One syllable adjective ending in a consonant

  • Comparative – add ‘er’ – taller – Sheldon is taller than Leonard.
  • Superlative – add ‘est’ – tallest – Sheldon is the tallest of all the characters.

One syllable adjective ending in a consonant with a single vowel before it

  • Comparative – double consonant and add ‘er’ – bigger
  • Superlative – double the consonant and add ‘est’ – biggest

Adjectives with two or more syllables that DON’T end in ‘y’

With most two-syllable and three-syllable adjectives, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most and this is where the confusion comes in. We can never say more or most with a one syllable adjective (more good, better, most tallest, etc)

Two-syllable adjectives ending in ‘y’

The exception to the two syllable rule is that, if the adjective ends in ‘y’ we use the normal one syllable structure but change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’.

  • Comparative – happier
  • Superlative – happiest


Irregular Adjective

Comparative Form

Superlative Form


better best


worse worst


farther farthest




many more



Other ways to compare

If you are looking to compare two things that are equal in description you can use the structure as + adjective + as

I can eat as much as you can.

She isn’t as smart as her sister.

My sister is just as bad at math as I am.


Are you ready to practice?

Fill in the gaps with the comparative form of the adjectives given.

1. A rock is _____________ than a leaf. (heavy)
2. Our house is _____________ than yours. (big)
3. The ocean is ____________________ than the mountains. (beautiful)
4. Tom is a __________________ student than Mary. (good)
5. Bicycles are _____________________than motorbikes. (safe)
6. January is _____________________than July. (hot)
7. A lion is _______________________ than a cat. (dangerous)
8. Helen is _______________________ than Mary. (happy)
9. Computers are _______________________ than telephones. (expensive)
10. I think golf is ____________________ than football. (boring)

Fill in the gaps with the superlative form of the adjectives given.

1. It is the _________________shop in town. (large)
2. Monday is the __________________ day of the week. (bad)
3. Ben was the ___________________ person in his family. (noisy)
4. Sam is the in the ___________________ class. (popular)
5. What is the _______________________ subject at school? (difficult)
6. Jim is the _______________________ player in the football team. (good)
7. Elephants are the ________________________ animals. (heavy)
8. Let’s pick the _____________________ apples from the tree. (big)
9. Mary is the ______________________ girl in the class. (thin)
10. That is the ______________________________ sofa in our house. (comfortable)

Fill in the gaps with the comparative or the superlative form of the adjectives given.

1. This armchair is ______________________ than the old one. (comfortable)
2. Trains are ____________________ than airplanes. (slow)
3. I bought the ________________________ souvenir I could afford. (expensive)
4. In this classroom there are _______________________ girls than boys. (many)
5. Ann is the _______________________ child in the family. (young)
6. You are _____________________ here than there. (safe)
7. This is the ______________________film I have ever seen. (bad)
8. Tim is ____________________ than Peter. (talented)
9. I can run _____________ fast ______________ you can.

Pretty – A short story using Comparatives and Superlatives

Pretty – A short story using Comparatives and Superlatives

“Mommy, am I pretty?”

In a world where things were more and more aesthetic, Sofia had grown concerned about her looks. She didn’t need to be the prettiest girl at school, nor did she aspire to be prettier than anyone else, she simply hoped to be as pretty as the rest of her friends.  

Claudia sighed. She imagined this day would come sooner or later, though she had hoped for later. It killed her to hear self doubt enveloping the voice of her 8 year old daughter. She wanted to take her into her arms and assure her she was beautiful, but that would simply add wood to the fire. Little boys and girls were placing more and more value on their physical appearance these days and compliments like, “you are beautiful,” only reinforced the absurd concept that physical beauty was a virtue.

Fighting the urge Claudia said, “Do you remember that time we went on vacation to the south, and camped for the entire month?”

“Of course I do mom,” Sofia replied.

“It was pretty amazing wasn’t it?”

“Yep, more amazing than any other vacation.”

“And do you remember the night when we laid on our backs and watched the stars shoot across the sky?”

“How could I forget. I wished on every single one!”

“That was pretty incredible wasn’t it?” Claudia continued.

“It was one of the most incredible nights of my life so far,” Sofia responded.

“And do you remember when that terribly ugly dog decided to adopt us for the month and everyone said he was horrible, but you thought he was the most beautiful dog you had ever seen?”

“Billy was not ugly mom!” Sofia exclaimed.

Well, all of those pretty amazing and pretty incredible things you experienced, all of those beautiful moments you continue to experience, can only be appreciated because you encompass beauty. Not the kind of beauty that can be found in the shape of your eyes or the color of your hair, but true beauty, the kind you wear on the inside. We are mere projections of what is inside of us. Like mirrors, we simply perceive in others what we carry inside. And you, my sweet girl, are filled up to the brim with beauty, which is why you see the beauty in all things. Even that ugly dog you named Billy.

Sofia looked as though she was about to cry.

Claudia held her breath. She hoped she had been clear, hoped she had sent the right message.
With tears in her eyes Sofia looked up at her mom and said, “so that means you are filled up with beauty too mommy.”

Written by Stephanie Cariker

Director at English in Rosario