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Comparatives and superlatives

  • Comparatives and superlatives are types of adjectives used in English grammar. Grammar is the way in which language is structured, the rules that are the foundation of that structure and the study of those rules. Grammar is the way words are used together to form sentences. Grammar includes punctuation such as periods, commas, apostrophes, colons, semicolons, quotation marks and parentheses; parts of speech such as nouns, pronouns, prepositions, verbs, conjunctions; modifiers such as adjectives and adverbs, and much more. Grammar rules such as subject and verb agreement, verb tense, possessives, and much more are covered in grammar rules. English has borrowed from many other languages and as a result, it is very complex and prone to grammar mistakes. There are numerous rules concerning English grammar, and many exceptions to those rules. Grammar can be tricky because the rules may change. Knowing grammar rules and proper grammar and punctuation will help you to avoid grammar mistakes and improve your writing skills. 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

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    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


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