New English word? Translate any word using double click.
Hello! Today I am going to explain how to use Comparative and Superlative Adjectives, and then you can practise with some questions.
First, the most basic question –
What’s the difference between Comparative and Superlative?
A Comparative is a comparison between (usually) two things or people:
I am taller than my brothers = Soy más alto que mis hermanos
English is easier than Spanish = El Inglés es más fácil que el Español
You don’t have to include ‘than…’ when the comparison is obvious:
It’s colder today, isn’t it? (than yesterday) = Hace más más frio hoy, verdad? (que ayer)
A Superlative is not a Comparison. It is the first/most… of its category:
Jane is the fastest girl in her class = Jane es la chica más rápida de la clase
The highest mountain is the Everest = La montaña más alta es el Everest
That film was the most frightening I’ve ever seen! = Esa peli fue la más terrorífica que haya visto jamás!
No, it isn’t. In fact, it’s quite complicated. The change from a normal adjective (grande) to a comparative (más grande que..) or a superlative (el más grande) depends on the word. Look at these examples:
BIG – BIGGER (than..) – (the) BIGGEST
EASY – EASIER (than..) – (the) EASIEST
EXPENSIVE – MORE EXPENSIVE (than..) – (the) MOST EXPENSIVE
It’s much more complicated in English than in Spanish – That’s why you’re reading this!
The best way to understand this is by separating the adjectives into three sections. Now we are going to look at these one by one:
1 Syllable / Ends with ‘….Y’
- Adjectives with one syllable (sílaba)
Tall Taller (than…) The Tallest
Small Smaller (than…) The Smallest
Few Fewer (than…) The Fewest
Short Shorter (than…) The Shortest
Near Nearer (than…) The Nearest
Nice Nicer (than…) The Nicest
Black Blacker (than…) The Blackest
Cheap Cheaper (than…) The Cheapest
Young Younger (than…) The Youngest
- Adjectives with one syllable, repeating a letter
There is a rule, but it’s too complicated to remember*. Just look at these words and get the idea.
Fat Fatter (than…) The Fattest
Big Bigger (than…) The Biggest
Thin Thinner (than…) The Thinnest
Big Bigger (than…) The Biggest
Wet Wetter (than…) The Wettest
Sad Sadder (than…) The Saddest
Red Redder (than…) The Reddest
Hot Hotter (than…) The Hottest
*Do you really want to know the rule? You double the final letter of a one-syllable adjective ending in consonant + vowel + consonant, except when the adjective ends in -y or -w: Satisfied?
- Adjectives ending with ‘…Y’
Basically the same rule. Just remember to change the ‘Y’ to ‘I’:
Easy Easier (than…) The Easiest
Naughty Naughtier (than…) The Naughtiest
Pretty Prettier (than…) The Prettiest
Funny Funnier (than…) The Funniest
Scary Scarier (than…) The Scariest
Silly Sillier (than…) The Silliest
Lazy Lazier (than…) The Laziest
Ugly Uglier (than…) The Ugliest
How can you like English if you don’t like exceptions? These are one-syllable adjectives which do not follow the rule:
Wrong More Wrong The Most Wrong
Fun More Fun The Most Fun
Ill More Ill The Most Ill
Like* More Like The Most Like
como: In my family, I am the most like my father.
Bored* More Bored The Most Bored
Tired* More Tired The Most Tired
Adjectives which come from (are participles of) Verbs
Two or More Syllables
Expensive More Expensive The Most Expensive
Modern More Modern The Most Modern
Frightening More Frightening The Most Frightening
Beautiful More Beautiful The Most Beautiful
Disgusting More Disgusting The Most Disgusting
Interested More Interested The Most Interested
Famous More Famous The Most Famous
Dangerous More Dangerous The Most Dangerous
Easy! Remember the exceptions. Words with 2 syllables that do not follow the rule:
Clever Cleverer The Cleverest
Narrow Narrower The Narrowest
Gentle Gentler The Gentlest
These do not follow the rules above:
Good Better (than..) The Best
Bad Worse** The Worst**
Little* Less The Least
Far Further The Furthest
(It is possible – but not very common – to say Farther / Farthest)
* = ‘poco’. If you want ‘pequeño’, use ‘small’.
** Have you seen ‘Badder’ and ‘Baddest’? You can hear them in songs and sometimes when people talk.
What’s the difference between these two sentences?
A) Brian is the worst Maths student.
B) Brian is the baddest student.
ANSWER: A) means that he doesn’t understand, and B) that he is very naughty
ANSWER: A) is correct, and B) is incorrect. If you want to use this in an exam, wait 30 years!
These two structures are always the same. It makes no difference if the words has one syllable or three:
As …….. as = Tan ……como
A hippo is as dangerous as a lion.
Less …… / The least…..
It is less common to see a snow leopard.
Look at these two sentences:
I’m less tall than my son.
I’m not as tall as my son.
These sentences have the same meaning, but the second is much more common. It is not usual to hear ‘less… than’.
There is another structure which is connected:
The older you are, the more tolerant you become = Cuanto más mayor eres, más tolerante te haces
If you want to know more about this, go to the Mini-class here!
Last note: These are the rules. In spoken English it is far more flexible: Cleverer / More Clever – The Loveliest / The Most Lovely
Summary (then the Questions)
MORE MODERN than
the MOST MODERN
Press ‘Start’ and Answer the questions. You can also try these mini-classes:
Now answer these questions: USE CAPITAL LETTERS, and write the same or opposite meaning, as indicated. You can use 1, 2 or 3 words.