Comparison of Adjectives

There are three forms of comparison:

– positive
– comparative
– superlative


A – Comparison with -er/-est

clean – cleaner – (the) cleanest

We use -er/-est with the following adjectives:

1) Adjectives with one syllable

positive comparative superlative
clean cleaner cleanest
new newer newest
cheap cheaper cheapest

2) Adjectives with two syllables and the following endings:

2 – 1) Adjectives with two syllables, ending in -y

positive comparative superlative
dirty dirtier dirtiest
easy easier easiest
happy happier happiest
pretty prettier prettiest

2 – 2) Adjectives with two syllables, ending in -er

positive comparative superlative
clever cleverer cleverest

2 – 3) Adjectives with two syllables, ending in -le

positive comparative superlative
simple simpler simplest

2 – 4) Adjectives with two syllables, ending in -ow

positive comparative superlative
narrow narrower narrowest

 

3) Spelling of the adjectives using the endings -er/-est

positive comparative superlative comment
large larger largest leave out the silent -e
big bigger biggest Double the consonant after short vowel
sad sadder saddest
dirty dirtier dirtiest Change -y to -i (consonant before -y)
shy shyer shyest Here -y is not changed to -i.
(although consonant before -y)

 


B – Comparison with more – most

positive comparative superlative
difficult more difficult (the) most difficult

all adjectives with more than one syllable (except some adjectives with two syllables – see
2 – 1 to 2 – 4)


C – Irregular adjectives

positive comparative superlative comment
good better best
bad worse worst
much more most uncountable nouns
many more most countable nouns
little less least
little smaller smallest

 


D – Special adjectives

Some adjectives have two possible forms of comparison (-er/est and more/most).

positive comparative superlative
clever cleverer / more clever cleverest / most clever
common commoner / more common commonest / most common
likely likelier / more likely likeliest / most likely
pleasant pleasanter / more pleasant pleasantest / most pleasant
polite politer / more polite politest / most polite
quiet quieter / more quiet quietest / most quiet
simple simpler / more simple simplest / most simple
stupid stupider / more stupid stupidest / most stupid
subtle subtler / more subtle subtlest / most subtle
sure surer / more sure surest / most sure

 


E – Difference in meaning with adjectives:

positive comparative superlative comment
far farther farthest distance
further furthest distance or
time
late later latest
latter x
x last
old older oldest people and things
elder eldest people (family)
near nearer nearest distance
x next order

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