Comparatives and Superlatives in English


When we want to compare two or more nouns, adjectives‏‎ or adverbs‏‎ we use the comparative and superlative forms. Grammatically the main difference is between comparing 2 items or comparing more than 2 items.

Comparing 2 Items
To compare two items, we use the comparative:

I am big, he is bigger.

She works carefully, he works more carefully.

We often use this form in this pattern:

{comparative} + {than}

He is taller than me.

We are more efficient than you.

See the main article, Comparatives‏‎ for more on this.

Comparing More than 2 Items
To compare more than two items, we use the superlative:

Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system.

In the company, Sandra works the most carefully.

If the context is clear, we do not need to use a complete comparison. We can say:

This book is more difficult.

The rest of the sentence is implied:

This book is more difficult (than that book).

We often use the superlative with the present perfect simple‏‎ like this:

{superlative} … {present perfect + ever}

It was the most boring film I have ever seen.

That was the most disgusting meal I have ever had to eat.

Forming the Comparative & Superlative
Small words add -er and -est to make the comparative and superlative. Large words use the and more and most

adjective – comparative  – superlative
small – smaller – the smallest
extensive – more extensive – the most extensive

Note that the superlative often takes the with it.


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Posted in Language Functions.

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