Comparatives and Superlatives – Introduction

We use comparative and superlative forms of adjectives to make comparisons. Here’s how you can make comparative and superlative forms:

Comparative Form

To create the comparative form of one-syllable adjectives and some two-syllable adjectives (especially those ending in -y, such as happy, healthy, friendly), add -er to the end of the adjective. For longer adjectives (usually those with two or more syllables), use more before the adjective.

Examples:

  • fast → faster
  • efficient → more efficient

Than is commonly used to make comparisons between two things or individuals.

  • The competitor’s prices are lower than ours.
  • Our customer satisfaction ratings are higher than industry standards.
  • The updated software is more user-friendly than the previous version.
  • Our new product is more innovative than our competitors’ offerings.

Superlative Form

To form the superlative degree of one-syllable adjectives and some two-syllable adjectives (especially those ending in -y, such as happy, healthy, friendly), add -est to the end of the adjective. For longer adjectives (usually those with two or more syllables), use most before the adjective. Superlatives are usually preceded by definite article the.

Examples:

  • fast → the fastest
  • efficient → the most efficient

Superlative adjectives, which describe the highest degree of a quality among three or more things, do not require the use of than

  • Our company offers the lowest prices in the market.
  • This is the smallest office space we have available.
  • This is the most efficient machine in the factory.
  • Our team provides the most exceptional customer service in the industry.

When adding the endings -er and -est to form the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives, there are certain rules to follow:

  1. Adding -er and -est  to adjectives ending in e (e.g. safe, large, nice, wide):

When the base adjective ends in e, simply add -r to form the comparative: wide → wider.

Similarly, when forming the superlative, add -st to the base adjective ending in e: wide → widest.

  1. Changing y to i when adding -er and -est endings (e.g. happy, funny, busy, easy): 

When the base adjective ends in a consonant (e.g. p, t, s) followed by y, change the y, to i  and then add -er: easy → easier

For the superlative, change the y to i and then add -est: easy → easiest

  1. Doubling a consonant when adding -er and -est endings:

When the base adjective has one syllable and ends in a single consonant preceded by a single short vowel, double the final consonant before adding -er: big → bigger

Similarly, for the superlative, double the final consonant before adding -est: big → biggest.

There are some irregular adjectives that do not follow the regular pattern. Here are some common examples:

good -> better -> the best

bad -> worse -> the worst

little -> less -> the least

  • Our new marketing strategy is better than the previous one.
  • He is the best candidate for the managerial position.
  • Our competitor’s customer service is worse than ours, which gives us a competitive advantage.
  • The financial crisis had a significant impact on our sales, making this year the worst in terms of revenue.
  • Our team’s performance is less efficient than the industry average, requiring process improvements.
  • The new product has the least expensive pricing compared to its competitors. 

Additionally, certain adjectives can be modified with both -er/-est and more/most forms, but there might be a difference in meaning. For example: clever

Comparative cleverer and superlative the cleverest refer to a specific aspect of cleverness.

Comparative more clever and superlative the most clever refer to general comparison of cleverness

  • Sarah’s marketing strategy is cleverer than John’s, resulting in higher customer engagement.
  • Among all the candidates, Sarah proved to be the cleverest in problem-solving during the job interview.
  • The sales team brainstormed ideas to make the presentation more clever and engaging. 
  • Our competitor’s marketing campaign is the most clever one we have seen in years.