In today’s article I’m going to talk about comparative and superlative forms.
We use the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs and adjectives to compare people, things, states, and actions in writing.
Adjectives and adverbs have three forms: the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.
|Joyful||More joyful||Most joyful|
|Joyfully||More joyfully||Most joyfully|
The comparative form is used to compare one person, thing, action, or state to another:
Daisies are prettier than roses.
My sister is taller than me.
Our house is noisier than the library.
The superlative form is used to compare one thing to ALL the others in the same category:
This road is the quietest.
My bag is the heaviest.
My rose is the prettiest.
The comparative and superlative are formed differently depending on the word’s positive form:
- Usually we add the suffixes -er and -est: warm / warmer / warmest
- When the adjective ends in -e we drop it and add -er and -est: large / larger / largest
- When the adjective ends in one consonant, double it before adding -er and -est: red / redder / reddest
- When the adjective ends in -y change it to –i and add -er and -est: juicy / juicier / juiciest
- If an adverb ends in -ly usually add the words more (comparative form) and most (superlative form): slow / more slowly / most slowly; lazily / most lazily / most lazily
- Some adjectives use more for the comparative form and most for the superlative: famous / more famous / most famous
- Some comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are irregular: bad / worse / worst; much / more / most; well / better / best
Rules for forming comparatives
- One-syllable words form the comparative by adding -er and -est: brave / braver / bravest; small / smaller / smallest; dark / darker / darkest
- Two-syllable words that end in -y, -le, and -er form the comparative by adding -er and -est: pretty / prettier / prettiest; happy / happier / happiest; noble / nobler / noblest; clever / cleverer / cleverest
- Words of more than two syllables form the comparative with more and most: beautiful / more beautiful / most beautiful; resonant / more resonant / most resonant
- Past participles used as adjectives form the comparative with more and most: crooked / broken / damaged / defeated
- Predicate adjectives (adjectives used to describe the subject of a sentence) form the comparative with more and most: afraid / mute / certain / alone / silent
Ex. She is afraid / He is more afraid / They are the most afraid of them all
Following these guidelines should help stop abominations like more pretty or beautifuler from making their way into your writing!
And, as always, if in doubt, look up the preferred inflected forms in the dictionary, I find the Oxford English Dictionary Online to be a wonderful resource.