Comparatives and superlatives

Comparatives and superlatives are types of adjectives used in English grammar. We will define comparatives and superlatives, examine when each are used, and look at some examples.

Comparatives are adjectives that compare two nouns. In general, the comparatives of one-syllable adjectives are formed by adding the suffix, -er.

Superlatives are adjectives that compare three or more nouns. In general, the superlatives of one-syllable adjectives are formed by adding the suffix, -est.

If the adjective ends in two consonants, the suffix -er is simply added to form the comparative, and the suffix -est is added to form the superlative:

tall taller tallest

fast faster fastest

smart smarter smartest

If the adjective ends in a vowel and one consonant, the consonant is doubled before the suffix -er is added for the comparative and the suffix -est is added for the superlative:

wet wetter wettest

fat fatter fattest

red redder reddest

Two-syllable adjectives generally follow different conventions. If a two-syllable adjective ends in a y, the y is changed to an i and the suffix -er is added for the comparative; the suffix -est is added for the superlative:

tiny tinier tiniest

scaly scalier scaliest

easy easier easiest

Most other two-syllable adjective comparatives and superlatives do not change; they are indicated by adding the word more or less before the comparative and the word most or least before the superlative:

nervous more/less nervous most/least nervous

expensive more/less expensive most/least expensive

passive more/less passive most/least passive

Finally, some adjectives have irregular forms for their comparatives and superlatives. They follow no rules and must simply be memorized:

good better best

bad worse worst

many more most

well better best

far farther farthest