Comparative and Superlative

Comparative and Superlative
Which building is the biggest?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the best hockey team ever. Some say they are even better than the Montreal Canadiens.

Comparative and superlative adjectives  are what we use when we want to compare two things, or when we want to show how something is the best.

Comparative Adjectives

We use comparatives to compare two things. We can show how much better something is, or how much worse. The form for comparative adjectives is as follows:

Single syllable( The number of sounds a word makes. Water has two sounds wa / ter) adjectives you just add “er+than.” When the adjective ends with a vowel+consonant, double the consonant.

  • e.g. Big > bigger than( i + g = vowel + consonant)
  • e.g. Thin > thinner than
  • e.g. Bold > bolder than
  • e.g. The tree is bigger than the bush.

Two or more syllable adjectives(not ending in “y”) you add “more+adjective+than.”

  • e.g. creative > more creative than
  • e.g. interesting > more interesting than
  • e.g. The tree is more beautiful than the bush.

Two-syllable adjectives ending in “y.” The “y” changes to an “i” and you add “er.”

  • e.g. Crazy > crazier than
  • e.g. Fancy > fancier than
  • e.g. The bee is busier than the sloth.

Irregular adjectives don’t follow the normal format.

  • Good > better than
  • Bad > worse than
  • Little > less than
N.B. Comparatives need a than after the adjective not a that. This is a common mistake that English as a second language learners make.

Superlative Adjectives

We use superlatives to show how something is the best or the worst. The form for superlative adjectives is as follows:

Single syllable adjectives you just add “the+adjective +est.” when the adjective ends with a vowel+consonant, double the consonant.

  • e.g. thin >the  thinnest
  • e.g. big > the biggest
  • e.g. bold > the boldest
  • e.g. The Rideau Canal is the longest skating rink in Ottawa.

Two or more syllable adjectives(not ending in “y”) you add “The+most+adjective.”

  • e.g. interesting > the most interesting 
  • e.g. beautiful >the  most beautiful
  • e.g. Ergonomic keyboards are the most comfortable kind of keyboard.

Two-syllable adjectives ending in “y.” The “y” changes to an “i” and you add “est.”

  • e.g. crazy > the craziest
  • e.g. busy > the busiest
  • e.g. The bee is the busiest insect.

Irregular adjectives

  • Good > the best
  • Bad > the worst
  • Little > the least
The following chart shows the comparison between an adjective, a comparative and a superlative.
Adjective Comparative Superlative
Big Bigger than The Biggest
Cold Colder than The Coldest
Amazing More amazing than The most amazing

There are a few two-syllable words that don’t follow the typical format. We can use these adjectives in either form. Here is a short list of these exceptions.

  • Narrow > narrower or more narrow > the narrowest or the most narrow
  • Simple > simpler or more simple > the simplest or the most simple
  • Clever > cleverer or more clever > the cleverest or the most clever
  • Handsome > handsomer  or more handsome > the handsomest or the most handsome

For more information on adjectives check out University of Ottawa’s site.


Can you think of any ways to use comparative and superlative adjectives at work?