Adjectives and adverbs can be used to make comparisons. The comparative form is used to compare two people, ideas, or things. The superlative form with the word "the" is used to compare three or more. Comparatives and superlatives are often used in writing to hedge or boost language.
Here are some rules and examples of how to form the comparatives and superlatives:
|Adjective or Adverb||Comparative||Superlative|
|One-syllable adjectives||small||smaller||(the) smallest|
|big||bigger (Note the spelling here)||(the) biggest|
|Most two-syllable adjectives||thoughtful||more/less thoughtful||(the) most/least thoughtful|
|useful||more/less useful||(the) most/least useful|
|Adverbs ending in -ly||carefully||more/less carefully||(the) most/least careful|
|slowly||more/less slowly||(the) most/least slowly|
|Two-syllable adjectives ending in -y||sleepy||sleepier||(the) sleepiest|
|Two-syllable adjectives ending with –er, -le, -or, or –ow||little||littler||(the) littlest|
|Three or more syllable adjectives||intelligent||more/less intelligent||(the) most/least intelligent|
|important||more/less important||(the) most/least important|
|clever||more/less clever||(the) most/least clever|
|simple||more/less simple||(the) most/least simple|
|friendly||more/less friendly||(the) most/least friendly|
To find other comparative structures, look up the word in an online dictionary such as Merriam Webster. If you are a multilingual writer, you may find Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary helpful for level-appropriate definitions and examples.
To form comparative sentences, use the comparative with the word "than." Here are some examples:
It is also possible to use "(not) as…as" to express similarity or differences. Here are some examples:
Transitions such as "and," "but," "in addition," "in contrast," "furthermore," and "on the other hand" can also be used to show comparison. See our website page on transitions and sentence structures and types of sentences for more information and examples.