English grammar – Comparatives and Superlatives basic introduction:

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.

Below is a chart with the different forms of both the comparative and superlative

Adjective/Adverb

Comparative Form

Superlative Form

1 syllable

Fast

Faster  (+ than)

The fastest

2 syllables (ending in –y)

Easy

Easier (+ than)

The easiest

2 syllables (other endings) or more

Normal

Intelligent

More/less normal (+ than)

More/less intelligent (+ than)

The most/least normal

The most/least intelligent

Irregular Forms

Good

Bad

Far

Less

More

Better (+than)

Worse (+ than)

Farther/further (+ than)

Lesser (+than)

The best

The worst

The farthest/furthest

The least

The most

Example sentences

  • This machine is faster than the previous model.
  • She seems happier than before, now that her manager is giving her more responsibility.
  • That is the most unbelievable story I’ve ever heard!
  • 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.

 

Other comparatives 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 –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 atthe beginning of the school year.

Things to look out for

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

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

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

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