To understand the difference between comparatives and superlatives, you don’t need to understand the definition alone. You need to practice, train, and have a guide in your hand to help you. And good news: GlobalExam offers you all three, and more. Moreover, you can learn English on your own online with our General English course!

Here is what the guide consists of:

  • The definition of adjectives and adverbs.
  • The definition of comparative adjective or adverb.
  • The use of superlative adjectives or adverbs.
  • The difference between superlative and comparative.
  • Different Forms of Both Comparative And Superlative.
  • The Structure of Other Comparative expressions.
  • Tips to consider when using the comparatives and superlatives.

Let’s get started.

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What is An Adjective And An Adverb?

We will be explaining what exactly an adjective and an adverb are.

Adjectives

An adjective is one/multiple words that describe a noun or pronoun. For the majority of the time, the adjective comes before the word they modify, but they can also follow the word they modify as well.

Examples:

  • What a beautiful cat!
  • She was wearing an ugly dress.
  • That book seems boring.
  • Lunch smells great.

Adverbs

The adverb is one/multiple words that describe verbs, adjectives, and/or other adverbs. They answer the questions of how, where, when, why, how often, and how much.

Examples:

  • How does he speak? He speaks fast. (Answers how)
  • I will travel tomorrow. (Answers when)
  • The kids are outside. (Answers where)
  • She dropped out of school to pursue her dream. (Answers why)
  • David works so hard. (Answers how much)
  • I need to check on my grandparents every weekend. (Answers how often)

two girls studying

What Is A Comparative Adjective Or Adverb?

Let’s go over the definition of comparative adjectives and adverbs.

Comparative Adjective

We use comparative adjectives to compare two people, ideas, or things.

Examples:

  • I am shorter than you.
  • These shoes are more expensive than the other ones.
  • My current job is harder than my previous one.

Comparative Adverbs

We use comparative adverbs to compare two actions.

Examples:

  • He eats faster than me.
  • Your brother is nicer than your sister.
  • My house is warmer than yours during winter.

What Are The Uses Of A Superlative Adjective Or Adverb?

Let’s go over some examples of superlative adjectives and adverbs.

Superlative Adjectives

We use superlative adjectives to compare three or more things, people, and ideas to explain which one has the most or least quality.

Examples:

  • She is the best player on the team.
  • Adam is the strongest man in the neighborhood.
  • My cat is officially fatter than all of my friends’ cats.

Superlative adverbs

We use superlative adjectives to compare the actions of three or more people.

Examples:

  • I arrived earlier than the entire class.
  • Cam is the slowest boy in the school.
  • I can read faster than all of my classmates

What Is The Difference Between Comparative And Superlative

Adjectives and adverbs can be used to compare similarities or differences amongst things, people, places, actions… When 2 things are compared we use the comparative form; when one thing is compared to a full category, we use the superlative form. These forms, as you will see, depending on the number of syllables in the adjective or adverb. There are also other ways to make comparisons using other expressions.

AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
Example
BeautifulMore beautiful thanThe most beautifulYour room is more beautiful than mine.

You have the most beautiful hair in class.
AngryAngrier thanThe angriestYou seem angrier than before.

You are obviously the angriest one in the family.
TallTaller thanThe tallestRose is taller than Dave.

Rose is the tallest girl in the building.
FunnyFunnier thanThe funniestYou are funnier than your partner.

I am the funniest one in the group.
HappyHappier thanThe happiestYour dog seems happier than mine.

I become the happiest person in the world when you are here.
SadSadder thanThe saddestI am sadder than you by this news.

Stop being the saddest person in town!
AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
Example
SlowSlower thanThe slowestI run slower than you.

Turtles are the slowest pets.
FastFaster thanThe fastestI came to school faster than all the teachers.

You are the fastest person I know.
KindKinder thanThe kindestShe is kinder than most kids her age.

Rose is the kindest girl in class.
BoldBolder thanThe boldestYou are bolder than your partner.

I am the boldest one in the group.
QuickQuicker thanThe quickestYour dog is quicker than mine.

I became the quickest person in school.
HighHigher thanThe highestJoe can jump higher than Carol.

Our building looks like the highest in the neighborhood.

Different Forms of Both Comparative And Superlative

Next we will be addressing the different forms of comparative en superlative adjectives and adverbes.

Forming Comparatives and Superlatives with One syllable adjectives

Generally, one syllable adjectives form the comparative by adding -er and the superlative by adding -est.

  • Lucky >> luckier >> luckiest.
  • Cheap >> cheaper >> cheapest.
  • Big >> bigger >> biggest.
  • Wide >> wider >> widest.

Forming Comparatives and Superlatives with Two syllable adjectives

When the two-syllable adjectives end with -y, you form the compartivate by removing it and adding -er. Same thing applies for superlatives but you -est instead.

  • Tidy >> tidier >> tidiest.
  • Pretty >> prettier >> prettiest.

When the two-syllable adjectives end with -ing, -ed, -less, or -ful, then you form the comparative by adding more and the superlative by adding most.

  • Boring >> more boring >> the most boring.
  • Careful >> more careful >> the most careful.

Forming Comparatives and Superlatives with Three or more syllable

When the adjectives have three or more syllables, both comparative and superlative always form with more and most.

  • Difficult >> more difficult >> the most difficult.
  • Ridiculous >> more ridiculous >> the most ridiculous.
  • Exciting >> more exciting >> the most exciting.

Forming Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives Adjectives

There is no specific form for irregular adjectives either comparatives and superlatives. In fact, there isn’t a specific rule to follow. Here is a list of the most common adjectives that have irregular comparative and superlative forms:

  • Good >> better >> best
  • Bad >> worse >> worst
  • Little >> less>> least
  • Much >> more>> most
  • Far >> further / farther>> furthest / farthest

The following table includes a brief explanation of the different forms of comparatives and superlatives, along with examples:

 Adjective/AdverbComparative FormSuperlative FormExamples Sentences
1 syllableFastFaster (+ than)The fastestThis machine is faster than the previous model.
2 syllables (ending in –y)HappyHappier (+ than)The happiestShe seems happier than before, now that her manager is giving her more responsibility.
2 syllables (other endings) or moreNormal
Intelligent
Believable
More/less normal (+ than)
More/less intelligent (+ than)
More/less
believable (+ than)
The most/least normal
The most/least intelligent
The most/least believable
Dogs are known to be more intelligent than cats.

That is the most unbelievable story I’ve ever heard!
Irregular FormGood
Bad
Far
Less
More
Better (+than)
Worse (+ than)
Farther/further (+ than)
Less (+than)
The best
The worst
The farthest/furthest
The least
The most
The quality of their products is worse than it was before.

I believe that’s the farthest I’ve ever been from my target objectives.

What Is the Structure of Other Comparative expressions?

There are other ways to express the idea of comparison. Look at the following structures:

As + adjective/adverb + as (comparative of equality)

These products aren’t as efficient as the other brand’s products.

They walked as quietly as they could in order not to interrupt the filming.

One of the –est things (always followed by a plural)

That book you lent me is one of the best stories I’ve read in years!

The structure: The –er, the –er

The slower you pay, the longer you wait for delivery.

Less + adjective + than (comparative of inferiority)

The students are less motivated after their exams than how they were at the beginning of the school year.

Tips to Take Into Account While Using Comparative/Superlative

Finally, we will be giving you some tips to help you master this topic easier.

Tip#1:

Remember that ‘as’ is used twice in the sentence (see examples above)

Tip#2:

Comparative sentences use ‘than’, however ‘than’ is not used with ‘as’.

Tip#3:

The (’) is used with superlative sentences EXCEPT in the example given in ‘other comparative expressions.

Tip#4:

We say ‘the same as’ (NOT ‘than’): Her suitcase was the same as mine.

Tip#5:

You can rearrange your sentence to use different forms of the adjective from the comparative to superlative, or the contrary. E.g., I eat slower than my friend >> Between my friend and I, I eat the slowest.

Tip#6:

If the adjective ends with a consonant + short vowel + consonant, then you should double the last consonant. For example: big >> bigger >> biggest or thin >> thinner >> thinnest.

Tip#7:

Pay attention to the objectives that end with -y, you should change it to -i then add -er or -est. For example: Silly >> sillier >> silliest.

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