English adjectives and adverbs commonly distinguish three degrees: the positive (the basic form), the comparative (expressing a higher degree than is present in something else) and the superlative (expressing a maximal degree).
Comparative and superlative adjectives: formation
The comparative is formed with –er or more; the superlative is formed with –est or most. One syllable adjectives like big and fast tend to prefer –er and –est. Larger ones like beautiful and carefully take more and most.
- John is tall.
- John is taller than Peter.
- John is the tallest man I know.
- Susie drives carefully.
- Susie drives more carefully than Alice.
- Susie drives the most carefully of anybody in Paris.
Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs
To say that people or things are unequal in a particular way, we can use comparative adjectives and adverbs.
- She is taller than her sister.
- He earns more money than his wife does.
- Her mother is more attractive than her.
- Rohan is cleverer than his friends.
- Sania is richer than her neighbours.
- It is better than I thought.
Formation of the comparative and superlative
An adjective can exist in three forms – positive, comparative and superlative.
This is the basic form of the adjective. Examples are: kind, nice, beautiful, pleasant, tall, short, cruel, brave etc.
One-syllable adjectives normally form their comparative by adding –er to the positive. Note that a syllable is a vowel-sound. One-syllable adjectives have just one vowel-sound. They might have more than one vowel, but when they are pronounced, only one vowel-sound is heard. Examples are given below: tall, short, cute, nice, brave, small, dark, fair etc.
We can change these one-syllable adjectives into the comparative by adding –er to them.
Tall –> taller
Short –> shorter
Cute –> cuter
Nice –> nicer
Brave –> braver
Small –> smaller
Dark –> darker
Fair –> fairer
Longer adjectives and adverbs form their comparative forms by adding more to the positive.
Beautiful –> more beautiful
Careful –> more careful
Pleasant –> more pleasant
Intelligent –> more intelligent
Practical –> more practical
The superlative adjective shows a maximal degree of some quality. One syllable- adjectives form their superlative forms by adding –est to the positive.
Tall –> taller –> tallest
Short –> shorter –> shortest
Cute –> cuter –> cutest
Nice –> nicer –> nicest
Brave –> braver –> bravest
Small –> smaller –> smallest
Dark –> darker –> darkest
Fair –> fairer –> fairest
Longer adjectives form their superlative forms by adding most to the positive.
Beautiful –> more beautiful –> most beautiful
Careful –> more careful –> most careful
Pleasant –> more pleasant –> most pleasant
Intelligent –> more intelligent –> most intelligent
Practical –> more practical –> most practical
Some adjectives and adverbs have irregular comparative and superlative forms. That means their comparative and superlative forms are not formed from their positive.
Examples are given below.
Positive –> comparative –> superlative
Good –> better –> best
Bad –> worse –> worst
Ill –> worse –> worst
Little –> less –> least
Much / many –> more –> most
The superlative adjective is used to say that one of a group is outstanding in a particular way.