Comparatives and superlatives: the basics

by | May 14, 2020

We form comparatives by adding -er to the end of an adjective or by putting the word more in front of it.

We form superlatives by adding -est to the end of an adjective and the in front of it or by putting the words the most in front of it.

These are the rules:

  • For one syllable adjectives, use -er or the …-est
  • For two syllable adjectives use more or the most.
  • For two syllable adjectives that end in -y, -er, -le or -ow you can use either form.
  • For adjectives with three or more syllables, use more or the most.

Here are some examples:

  • I was very cold, but I’m warmer now.
  • The blue coat is more expensive than the red coat.
  • Which flowers do you think are the nicest?
  • Dominic is the most popular boy in school.

Note that in sentences where you mention the thing you are comparing something with, you need to use the word than:

  • Susie is taller than me.
  • Peter is more sociable than his brother.

Be careful with the common adjectives good, bad and far. They are irregular, and their forms are:

  • good > better > best
  • bad > worse > worst
  • far > further > furthest


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About Liz Walter

About Liz Walter

Liz Walter is a freelance lexicographer, teacher and writer, living in Cambridge, UK. She worked for many years on Cambridge University Press's range of ELT dictionaries and now works with Kate Woodford on books about the English language. Her other interests include politics, growing vegetables and family holidays in her camper van. She tweets at @LizJWalter