building blocksComparatives and Superlatives


Comparatives and Superlatives are special forms of adjectives. They are used to compare two or more things. Generally, comparatives are formed using -er and superlatives are formed using -est. This page will explain the rules for forming regular comparatives and superlatives, and also show some basic ways of using them.

1. Forming comparatives and superlatives

How these forms are created depends on how many syllables there are in the adjective. Syllables are like “sound beats”. For instance, “sing” contains one syllable, but “singing” contains two — sing and ing. Here are the rules:

Adjective form Comparative Superlative
Only one syllable, ending in E. Examples: wide, fine, cute Add -r: wider, finer, cuter Add -st: widest, finest, cutest
Only one syllable, with one vowel and one consonant at the end. Examples: hot, big, fat Double the consonant, and add -er: hotter, bigger, fatter Double the consonant, and add -est: hottest, biggest, fattest
Only one syllable, with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end. Examples: light, neat, fast Add -er: lighter, neater, faster Add -est: lightest, neatest, fastest
Two syllables, ending in Y. Examples: happy, silly, lonely Change y to i, then add -er: happier, sillier, lonelier Change y to i, then add -est: happiest, silliest, loneliest
Two syllables or more, not ending in Y. Examples: modern, interesting, beautiful Use “more” before the adjective: more modern, more interesting, more beautiful Use “most” before the adjective: most modern, most interesting, most beautiful

2. How to use comparatives and superlatives

Comparatives Comparatives are used to compare two things. You can use sentences with “than”, or you can use a conjunction like “but”.
  • Jiro is taller than Yukio.
  • Yukio is tall, but Jiro is taller.
Superlatives Superlatives are used to compare more than two things. Superlative sentences usually use “the”, because there is only one superlative.
  • Masami is the tallest in the class.
  • Yukio is tall, and Jiro is taller, but Masami is the tallest.

When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises.