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Better than, or the best? How to use comparative and superlative adjectives!

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You’re probably already very familiar with the variety of adjectives out there. We use them quite a lot in the English language, to describe all sorts of things!

But comparative and superlative adjectives are a special group all to themselves. Used only in particular situations, they’re a great way of saying something more meaningful than just an ordinary adjective.

So what exactly are they, and how are they used? Let’s find out!

What are comparative adjectives?

Comparative adjectives are used to compare different things, especially when you’re trying to highlight a particular difference between them.

For example:

“My cookie is bigger than yours.”

“His book is longer than mine.”

To use a comparative adjective, you follow the basic formula:

Noun + verb + comparative adjective + than + noun

If the adjective has one syllable, it will have the ending “-er” at the end.

If it has two syllables, it will have the ending “-ier” at the end.

For example:

“She is happier now than before.”

If it has three or more syllables, then instead of adding “-er”, you use the formula “more + adjective” instead.

For example:

“This film is even more complicated that the previous one.”

Using these methods, you can turn almost any adjective into a comparative!

So why use a comparative adjective when you could just use an ordinary one? When you’re comparing two or more different things, it gives a sense of perspective between different items, and it also shows the relationship between them – so it’s a great way of involving other people or things into the conversation.

What are superlative adjectives?

Comparative adjectives show how something may be more or less in a particular attribute than another noun. Something might be bigger or smaller, faster, longer, or anything else in comparison to something else. But there’s always a chance that another noun could be compared to them afterwards.

Superlative adjectives are different – these set the limit for a particular quality, and it can’t be exceeded.

For example:

“This train has the longest journey time in the country.”

To use a superlative, you simply add “-est” or “-iest” at the end of the adjective, or if there are more than two syllables in the word, then you add the word “most” before it.

For example:

“It was the most frightening experience of my life.”

You might not always know if something is at the highest or lowest limit – but you’ll find that superlatives are in fact very commonly used anyway! This is because we often use them to exaggerate and express the quality of something.

For example:

“That was the best cake I’ve ever eaten!”

While you might not literally mean it was the best you’ve ever experienced, you can use the superlative to emphasise the feeling.

Your turn

Superlatives and comparative adjectives are a great way of adding personality and feeling to your language, especially when you’re speaking to someone! So why not put them into practice when you’re having a conversation? See if you can try to include one of each!