English Grammar Test Series: Comparison of Adjectives

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English Grammar

English Grammar Test Series: Comparison of Adjectives

When we want to compare two or more nouns using adjectives, we use the comparative and superlative forms of the adjective to show the comparison between the nouns. E.g. –

Honey is sweet, sugar is sweeter but victory is the sweetest.

In this sentence, we are comparing the three nouns using the positive, comparative and superlative forms of the word ‘sweet’.

Positive Form

These are the simple adjectives that simply describe the noun without comparing it to another – big, sweet, clean, etc.

She has a big black dog.

He is a sweet boy.

The cupboard is clean.

Comparative Form

These are used when we are comparing two nouns and need to show which noun possesses the adjective or character in a greater or lesser amount, when compared with the other. – bigger, sweeter, cleaner, etc.

I have a big dog but hers is bigger.

He is sweeter than the other boys.

The cupboard is cleaner than before.

Superlative Form

This form is used when three or more nouns are being compared and we need to show that one or more of the nouns posses the adjective or characteristic to the highest amount possible. We usually add ‘the’ before the superlative form. – biggest, sweetest, cleanest, etc.

She has the biggest dog in the colony.

He is the sweetest boy in his class.

The cupboard is the cleanest thing in the house.

Making Comparatives and Superlatives

There are certain rules that must be followed in the making of the comparatives and superlatives of the adjectives. Not all adjectives form their comparatives and superlatives in the same way and there are also some irregular adjectives that form completely different comparative and superlative forms.

Single Syllable Words and Double Syllable Words ending with -y, -er, -ow, -le

We use ‘-er’ to make the comparative and ‘-est’ to make the superlative.

Positive Comparative Superlative
Black Blacker Blackest
Fair Fairer Fairest
Clever Cleverer Cleverest

 

 

 

 

 

When there is a silent ‘e’ at the end of the positive form, we remove that and add ‘-er’ and ‘-est’

Positive Comparative Superlative
Nice Nicer Nicest
Late Later Latest

 

 

 

 

When the adjective ends with a ‘y’, we convert the ‘y’ into ‘i’ before adding ‘-er’ and ‘-est’

Positive Comparative Superlative
Pretty Prettier Prettiest
Lazy Lazier Laziest

 

 

 

 

If the adjective is a small one with little stress on the vowel, we double the last consonant.

Positive Comparative Superlative
Hot Hotter Hottest
Wet Wetter Wettest

 

 

 

 

Other Words with Two or More Syllables –

For other double syllable words that do not end with -y, -er, -ow, -le, and for adjectives with more than two syllables we use more and most to form the comparatives and superlatives.

Positive Comparative Superlative
Difficult More Difficult Most Difficult
Careful More Careful Most Careful
Handsome More Handsome Most Handsome
Interesting More Interesting Most Interesting

Special Adjectives

There a few adjectives that can use both ‘-er and -est’ and ‘more’ and ‘most’ to form their comparative and superlative forms. The distinction between these is that ‘-er and -est’ are used when we are comparing the noun to another noun and ‘more’ and ‘most’ is used when we are comparing characteristics within the noun.

Positive Comparative Superlative Example
Clever Cleverer/ More Clever Cleverest/Most Clever He is cleverer than her.

He is more clever than studious.

Quiet Quieter/ More Quiet Quietest/ Most Quiet This is the most quiet it gets here.

This is the quietest place.

Brave Braver/ More Brave Bravest/ Most Brave She is braver than other girls.

She was more brave than afraid.

Sure Surer/ More Sure Surest/ Most Sure He was surer of the result than others.

You’ll be more sure about the concept after you read the chapter.

Irregular Comparisons –

These adjectives do not make their comparative and superlative forms using the rules above. Their comparative and superlative forms are different words altogether.

Positive Comparative Superlative
Bad Worse Worst
Good Better Best
Far (place & time) Further Furthest
Far (place) Farther Farthest
Old (people) Elder Eldest
Little (amount) Less Least
Late (order) Latter Last