Comparatives and Superlatives

English Grammar Rules

We use Comparatives and Superlatives to compare two or more nouns.

The formation of the comparative and superlative depends on the number of syllables in the adjective:

One-syllable Adjectives

To form the comparative, we add -er to the end of the adjective.

To form the superlative, we add -est to the end of the adjective.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
small smaller the smallest
cold colder the coldest
light lighter the lightest
wide * wider the widest
hot ** hotter the hottest

* When an adjective ends in the letter E, we just add the -R (for comparatives) or -ST (for superlatives). We do not write two Es together. Wider (correct) not wideer (incorrect).

** When an adjective ends in a consonant + short vowel + consonant (C + V + C), we normally double the last letter. big - bigger - biggest, wet - wetter - wettest

Notice how comparatives are often followed by than when comparing two things or people.

Two-syllable Adjectives ending in -Y

To form the comparative, we remove the -y and add -ier to the end of the adjective.

To form the superlative, we remove the -y and add -iest to the end of the adjective.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
crazy crazier the craziest
happy happier the happiest
early earlier the earliest

Adjectives with Two or more Syllables

For Adjectives with 2 syllables (that don't end in -y) and higher (3, 4 syllables etc), we use more for comparatives and the most for superlatives.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
handsome more handsome the most handsome
nervous more nervous the most nervous
enthusiastic more enthusiastic the most enthusiastic

Some exceptions with two-syllable adjectives ending in -er and -est:

narrow - narrower, simple - simpler, quiet - quieter

Irregular Forms

Adjective Comparative Superlative
good better the best
bad worse the worst
far *** further / farther the furthest / farthest
little less the least
many/much more the most
old **** older/elder the oldest / eldest

*** Farther - Further

Further / farther, furthest / farthest are all used for distance.

Only Further / furthest are used to mean 'additional' or 'more advanced'.

Remember that the opposites of 'more' and 'most' are 'less' and 'least', respectively.

**** Older - Eldest

We use elder / eldest when we are talking about family relationships and normally only before a noun (not by itself unless it is a pronoun).

Comparative and Superlative of ILL

When comparing how ill people are, you will normally hear worse or the worst and not "iller or illest". Some people may prefer to replace ill with sick (sicker, sickest) when comparing.

Summary Chart

Comparatives and Superlatives in English

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