Comparatives and Superlatives in English

Language Functions

© <a href='' target='_blank'>The Chive</a>When we want to compare two or more nouns, adjectives‏‎ or adverbs‏‎ we use the comparative and superlative forms. Grammatically the main difference is between comparing 2 items or comparing more than 2 items.

Comparing 2 Items

To compare two items, we use the comparative:

I am big, he is bigger.

She works carefully, he works more carefully.

We often use this form in this pattern:

{comparative} + {than}

He is taller than me.

We are more efficient than you.

See the main article, Comparatives‏‎ for more on this.

Comparing More than 2 Items

To compare more than two items, we use the superlative:

Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system.

In the company, Sandra works the most carefully.

If the context is clear, we do not need to use a complete comparison. We can say:

This book is more difficult.

The rest of the sentence is implied:

This book is more difficult (than that book).

We often use the superlative with the present perfect simple‏‎ like this:

{superlative} … {present perfect + ever}

It was the most boring film I have ever seen.

That was the most disgusting meal I have ever had to eat.

Forming the Comparative & Superlative

Small words add -er and -est to make the comparative and superlative. Large words use the and more and most

adjective comparative superlative
small smaller the smallest
extensive more extensive the most extensive

Note that the superlative often takes the with it.

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