Comparatives and Superlatives Explained

Comparatives and superlatives are special adjectives that we use to make comparisons.

What are adjectives?
If you aren’t sure about this, check out this game first, to discover lots of adjectives!

What are comparatives?
Comparatives describe differences. Here are some examples:

George is taller than Mark.
Beth is more intelligent than Chris.
Frank’s job is less interesting than mine.
We are happier today than we were yesterday.

What are superlatives?
Superlatives describe something or someone that had the most or the least of a quality. Here are some examples:

Batman is the greatest superhero.
Lasagna is the most delicious dish.
Which is the least expensive option?
Vicky is the funniest person in her family.

How do we make regular adjectives into comparatives and superlatives?
Notice that sometimes, we add ‘er’ or ‘est’ to the end of the adjective, and sometimes we add ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘most’ or ‘least’ before the adjective.

General rules:

1. When an adjective has 1 syllable, we add ‘er’ for comparatives and ‘est’ for superlatives.
2. When an adjective has 2 or syllables, we put ‘more’ or ‘less’ in front of the adjective for comparatives, and we add ‘most’ or ‘least’ in front of the adjective for superlatives.
3. When an adjective ends in the letter ‘y’, regardless of the number of syllables, we remove the ‘y’ and add ‘ier’ for comparatives and ‘iest’ for superlatives.
4. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are exceptions! We say ‘good, ‘better’ and ‘best’. And ‘bad’, ‘worse’, ‘worst’.

comparatives and superlatives

How to we use comparatives and superlatives in sentences?

Comparative sentence structures:
Martha is kinder than Henry.
Elephants are bigger than lions.

We use ‘than’ when making comparisons, but it isn’t necessary when what we are referring to is obvious in context.
Do you like your new neighbourhood? Yes. It is safer (than my old neighbourhood).

Superlative sentence structure:
Martha is the kindest person I know.
Elephants are the biggest animals in the zoo.

We always use ‘the’ before a superlative. Do you remember that we use ‘the’ to talk about something specific? Superlatives are specific, because they refer to the most extreme of something or someone.

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