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
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.