The Comparative and Superlative Forms of Adjectives

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An adjective can be modified to express degree or to compare objects. The comparative form is used when you compare two objects, and the superlative form is used when you compare three or more objects. "Than" often goes after the comparative form and "the" is used before the adjective in superlative form.

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One Syllable

If an adjective has one syllable, add --er to form the comparative form and --est to form the superlative. For example, tall is "taller" in comparative form and "tallest" in superlative form. You might say, "She is taller than Alex" or "She is the tallest of all the friends." Add --r to form the comparative form of a one-syllable adjective that ends with an e and --st to form the superlative. Large becomes "larger" in the comparative form, and "largest" in the superlative form. Double the consonant and add --er if a one-syllable adjective has one consonant at the end with a vowel before it. For the superlative form, double the consonant and tack on --est. For example, big becomes "bigger" in the comparative form and "biggest" in the superlative form.

Two Syllables

Two-syllable adjectives use the word "more" to make the comparative form and "most" to make the superlative. For example, careful becomes "more careful" in the comparative form and "most careful" in the superlative form. Change the y to i and add --er to make the comparative form of a two-syllable adjective that ends in y. To make the superlative form, change the y to i and tack on --est. For example, busy is "busier" in the comparative form and "busiest" in the superlative form. If a two-syllable adjective ends in --er, -ow or --le, use --er and --est to make its comparative and superlative forms. Gentle is "gentler" in the comparative form and "gentlest" in the superlative form, for example.

Three or More Syllables

Adjectives that have three or more syllables use "more" for the comparative form and "most" for the superlative form. Important is "more important" in the comparative form and "most important" in the superlative form.

Irregular Adjectives

Several irregular adjectives do not use --er, -est, "more" or "most" to form their comparative and superlative forms. Good becomes "better" in the comparative form, "best" in the superlative form, for example. Other examples are bad--"worse" for comparative, "worst" for superlative;" little-- "less" for comparative, "least" for superlative; far-- "further" for comparative, "furthest" for superlative; and many---"more" for comparative and "most" for superlative.

Other Considerations

Do not use "more" with an --er comparative nor "most" with an --est superlative. Saying "more prettier" or "most prettiest" is not correct. Also do not try to form comparatives or superlatives from adjectives that express an excessive form of comparison, such as unique. You can, however, say that something is "more perfect" or that something is "fuller." Some adjectives do not form comparatives. Complete, absolute, impossible, chief, sufficient and stationary are some of these adjectives. In the case of "complete," however, you could say, "more nearly complete."

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