Comparisons and Superlatives

There are many ways to describe objects and living things in English. A great way to do this is by using comparisons and superlatives. Comparisons help us understand how an object or living thing is different to another. When we describe using superlatives, we tell the reader or listener that there is nothing better than the thing we are describing. Describing using superlatives can make our writing interesting, however, some people overuse them. Sound complicated? Take the tips from our guide to start using comparisons and superlatives like a pro in no time!

COMPARISONS AND SUPERLATIVES

Example 1

If Susie has a loud voice, we may want to tell the reader or listener this piece of information.

  • ‘Susie has a loud voice.’
Comparisons and Superlatives - Simply Better English
Comparisons and Superlatives – Simply Better English

If we would like to compare Susie’s voice to Dave’s, we need to add two letters to the end of the adjective – ‘er‘.

  • ‘Susie’s voice is louder than Dave’s.’

If we know that no one sings louder than Susie, we would add three letters to end of the adjective – ‘est‘.

  • ‘Susie’s voice is the loudest.’

Example 2

If Matthew can type on the keyboard quite quickly, we may want to tell the reader or listener this piece of information.

  • ‘Matthew is very fast at typing.’

If we would like to compare Matthew’s typing speed to another person, we could add the same letters (er) as before to the end of the adjective.

  • ‘Matthew types faster than Steve.’

If we know that no one types faster than Matthew, we would also add a group of letters (est) to the end of the adjective.

  • ‘When typing, Mathew is the fastest.’

Here is a table to show you how some other words can be used for description purposes using comparison and the superlative.

Table 1

Adjective
Comparison
Superlative
big bigger biggest
deep deeper deepest
fat fatter fattest
great greater greatest
old older oldest
proud prouder proudest
slow slower slowest
weak weaker weakest

Note: as you can see, when the adjective does not end in a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) we double the last letter and still add ‘er’ or ‘est’, depending on what it is we want to say.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 1

Here are some sentences. Rewrite the sentences with the correct word ending. Use the second column in the table above to help you.

  • My car is fast than yours.
  • The kettle boils slow than the urn.
  • My arm feels weak than my legs.

As you can see from the examples, when we would just like to describe a living thing or object we generally use the adjective in its original form.

Example 3

  • ‘Janice, who plays on our team, is tall.’
Comparisons and Superlatives - Simply Better English
Comparisons and Superlatives – Simply Better English

When we would like to compare something, we add the ‘er’ suffix.

  • ‘Janice, who plays on our team, is taller than Nate.’

When we would like to use the superlative, we use the ‘est’ suffix.

  • ‘Janice, who plays on our team, is the tallest.’
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 2

Finish the sentences below using a word from the table previously shown in this article. Use the words in the superlative column to help you.

  • The builder dug the d…
  • Barry’s baby cried the l…
  • I have painted the g…

WORDS THAT END IN THE LETTER ‘Y’

The words we have looked at so far have all followed the ‘er’ or ‘est’ rule.  When the word ends in a ‘y’, the rule changes slightly.

Example 4

  • ‘Bruno was happy when he ate his cake at the party.’

The word ‘happy’ ends in a ‘y’ so we need to use a different ending – we remove the ‘y‘ and add ‘ier‘.

  • ‘Bruno was happier when he ate his cake at the party.’

If we would like to use the superlative, we use a different ending again – we remove the ‘y’ and add ‘iest‘.

  • ‘Bruno was the happiest person at the party when he ate his cake at the party.’

Here is a table to show you some more words that can be used for description using comparison and the superlative.

Table 2

Adjective

Comparison

Superlative

chubby chubbier chubbiest
classy classier classiest
crazy craziest craziest
fancy fancier fanciest
hairy hairier hairiest
noisy noisier nosiest
ugly uglier ugliest

THE FAMOUS EXCEPTIONS

As you probably know by now, there are many exceptions in the English language.

Example 5

  • ‘My room is amazing.’
Comparisons and Superlatives - Simply Better English
Comparisons and Superlatives – Simply Better English

As you can see, the sentence above is grammatically correct. However, if I were to compare the room to another, I could not follow the ‘er’ or ‘iest’ rule.

  • ‘My room is amazinger than Mark’s room.’

This sentence does not make sense when ‘er‘ is added. To compare my room, I need to write the sentence like this:

  • ‘My room is more amazing than Mark’s room.’

If I were to use the superlative, I need to write the sentence like this:

  • ‘I have the most amazing room.’

I need to add the word ‘more’ to compare the room and the word ‘most‘ to show that the room is the best room in the world.

Take a look at the list below to see some more words that follow this exception.

  • beautiful
  • complex
  • difficult
  • dangerous
  • expensive
  • interesting

As you can see, there is a trend. The exception words have at least two syllables. Therefore, if a word has two or more syllables, we tend to place the words ‘more’ or ‘most’ in front either to compare or to use the superlative.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 3

Read each sentence and check if each sentence is correct or incorrect.

  • My phone was big than his.
  • Jacob’s class were the crazy.
  • The driver took the most dangerous route to work.

RECAP

This article has looked at comparisons and superlatives. To come out top when using them in your written and spoken English, remember that if the word has one syllable, we add a word ending (‘er‘, ‘est‘, etc.) to the adjective. If the word has two or more syllables, we place a word like ‘more’ or ‘most’ in front of it.

Conquered comparisons and superlatives? Why not focus on prefixes next?

Here are the answers to the activities in this article.  Feel free to post your answers in the comments section.

Activity 1

  • My car is faster than yours.
  • The kettle boils slower than the urn.
  • My arm feels weaker than my legs.

Activity 2

Here are a few possible answers to this question.

  • The builder dug the deepest hole.
  • Barry’s baby cried the loudest.
  • I have painted the greatest picture.

Activity 3

  • My phone was big than his. (This is incorrect.)  The sentence could be: My phone was bigger than his.
  • Jacob’s class were the crazy. (This is incorrect.) The sentence could be: Jacob’s class were the craziest.
  • The driver took the most dangerous route to work. (This is correct.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *