Superlatives – Definition, Examples, & Worksheet

When learning a new language, one of the first things you learn is how to describe things. In English, we use comparative and superlative adjectives to show how something is greater or lesser than something else.

This can be confusing for non-native English speakers. My detailed breakdown will give you a definition of superlatives and examples of how to use them. I even made a worksheet to help you practice.

What Is a Superlative?

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A superlative is a degree of comparison used to describe the quality or quantity of something in comparison with others. The superlative degree denotes what is “the most” or “the least” of something, and examples can be found in different fields, from sports and entertainment to science and business. Heck, I even use it when writing each day.

It’s a word or phrase that indicates the highest quality, ability, or degree level. It points out something that is the utmost or the lowest degree of its form. For example, when referring to people, one might use terms like “the best” or “the most skilled.”

When referring to things, words like “the biggest” or “the fastest” might denote excellence. Superlatives are often used in advertising, marketing, and everyday conversation.

Here’s an example I used for some ad copy on one of my Fantasy novels:

Maria Cobham is the most ruthless pirate on the seas…she’s also the most insane.

Though there are many different ways to define and interpret this concept, one thing is for sure: a superlative is generally seen as highly desirable and worthy of praise.

Whether it’s an award-winning product or an exceptional individual performer, something that can truly be called a superlative is always worth celebrating.

How Do You Form a Superlative?

A superlative uses a positive form adjective and modifies the initial form based on a few simple rules.

For adjectives with one syllable, just add “-est” at the end. If the adjective ends in a “y,” sometimes you switch it to an “i.”

Examples:

  • Nice – nicest
  • Cute – cutest
  • Shy – shiest
  • Dry – driest

If you have one syllable adjectives that end in a consonant-vowel-consonant, the last consonant is doubled before adding “-est.”

Examples:

  • Hot – hottest
  • Slim – slimmest
  • Fit – fittest

For two-syllable adjectives with a “y” at the end, replace the “y” with an “i” and add “-est” at the end.

Examples:

  • Skinny – skinniest
  • Funny – funniest
  • Tricky – trickiest

When encountering two-syllable adjectives that end in “-ow,” “-le,” or “-er,” just add “-est” at the end.

Examples:

  • Shallow – shallowest
  • Simple – simplest
  • Clever – cleverest

For every other adjective that has two or more syllables, use the words “most” or “least” to form a superlative.

Examples:

  • Beautiful – most beautiful – least beautiful
  • Incredible – most incredible – least incredible
  • Amazing – most amazing – least amazing

What Is an Irregular Superlative?

There are certain adjectives that don’t adhere to any of the rules mentioned above because they’ll amount to a difference in meaning or become non-words.

Examples:

  • Good – best
  • Bad – worst
  • Little – least
  • Much – most
  • Far – farthest/furthest

What Is the Superlative of Short?

To understand how to form the superlative of the short, we must identify its usual form and see which rules it submits to. “Short” is a one-syllable adjective, meaning all we have to do is add “-est” at the end.

The superlative for “short” is “shortest.”

What Is the Superlative of Long?

Similar to “short,” “long” is also a one-syllable adjective. If we add “-est” at the end, we get the superlative form, which is “longest.”

What Does the Best All Around Superlative Mean?

Being the “best all-around” means that the person or thing in question is simply the most well-rounded, with a wealth of strengths and talents on various fronts.

How Do You Use Superlative in a Sentence?

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Let’s take a look at how different superlative forms are used in a sentence:

  • Sarah is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.
  • Did you try out their new burger? It’s the tastiest one yet!
  • I have never solved the most complicated math problem before.
  • George decided to buy that phone because it was the least expensive on the website.
  • Her eldest son became a doctor.
  • I plan to study hard and be the best engineer you’ve ever seen!

Superlatives List

When comparing multiple people or things, almost any adjective can have a superlative form. Here are some superlative examples:

  • Cutest
  • Most annoying
  • Coolest
  • Funniest
  • Most original
  • Smallest
  • Lightest
  • Richest
  • Wittiest
  • Craziest
  • Most adorable
  • Least expensive
  • Most affordable
  • Most interesting

Superlative vs. Comparative

If you’re a non-native English speaker, you might confuse superlative and comparative adjectives. I even get the details mixed up from time to time. So, let’s see when each of these should be used.

Comparative adjectives are used to describe a person, an animal, a place, or an object by directly comparing it to something else. That means we analyze the quality of the subject in relation to something else.

These adjectives are most commonly used when directly comparing two things. A comparative adjective is typically formed by adding the “-er” at the end.

Examples:

  • You took the larger piece of cake. (we are comparing the size of two pieces of cake)
  • I think Sarah is prettier than Megan.

Naturally, the comparative form of an adjective takes into account a few basic rules.

When we have an adjective with only one syllable, we just add “-er” at the end.

Examples:

  • A cheetah is faster than a lion.
  • Dolphins are smarter than foxes.

For adjectives with two syllables ending in “y,” we swap it with an “i” and add “-er” at the end.

Examples:

  • Linda is funnier than me.
  • Your uncle is skinnier than my dad.

When using comparative adjectives that have two syllables and don’t end in “y,” we add more/less in front of the adjective. The same rule applies to adjectives with three or more syllables.

Examples:

  • I think science is more interesting than math.
  • “House of the Dragon” is less impressive than “Game of Thrones.”

There are a few irregular adjectives that do not follow the guidelines above. Their comparative forms are as follows:

  • Good/well – better
  • Bad/badly – worse
  • Far – farther/further
  • Little – less

Superlative Adjective Rules

You can use superlatives as subject complements or before a noun or a pronoun. You can also use multiple superlatives to describe the same thing. It just delivers an extreme degree or the utmost degree of something.

Example:

  • This is the sweetest, most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted.
  • She is the kindest and sweetest person you’ll ever meet.

You can only use superlatives when you compare more than two people or things. If you compare exactly two, you need to use comparative adjectives instead.

For example:

  • Correct: Sarah is smarter than John. (comparative)
  • Incorrect: Sarah is smartest than John. (superlative)

If you have a group of people or multiple objects, you use superlative instead of comparative.

For example:

  • Correct: Sarah is the smartest of all the students in her class. (superlative)
  • Incorrect: Sarah is the smarter of all the students in her class. (comparative)

When using a superlative adjective, you never use the “-est” ending and the words “most”/” least” at the same time.

Example:

  • Correct: Sarah is the smartest student.
  • Incorrect: Sarah is the most smartest student.

The Bottom Line

Did my breakdown help you understand superlatives? Superlatives are a great way to show off your product or service, to describe a person, an experience, or an event. They can be used in advertising, marketing materials, and conversations with customers. Using them correctly can make your language more impressive and persuasive.

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