Comparative vs. Superlative

The comparative (e.g. taller, sharper, stronger, heavier, shorter etc.) is used to compare one person or thing with another person or thing.

  • John is taller than Peter.
  • Alice is cleverer than Mary.

The superlative (e.g. tallest, sharpest, strongest, heaviest, shortest etc.) is used to compare somebody or something with the whole group to which she/he/it belongs.

  • John is the tallest boy in the class.
  • Alice is the prettiest of the four girls.
  • He is the best player in the team.

When a group has only two members, we prefer the comparative to the superlative.

  • Incorrect: Take the shortest of the two routes.
  • Correct: Take the shorter of the two routes.
  • Incorrect: She is the prettiest of the two sisters.
  • Correct: She is the prettier of the two sisters.
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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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