The comparative and superlative are two very important grammar points in English. Not only appear in exams, but these two types of comparison also appear a lot in everyday communication, knowing how to use them will be a big plus to show that you are a person who is able to use the language with other people.

1. Types of adjectives and adverbs in comparative sentences

1.1. Short adjectives and long adjectives

- Short adjectives are adjectives:
Adjectives have one syllable. For example: bad, short, good,…
Two-syllable adjectives ending in –y, –le,–ow, –er, –et. For example: sweet, clever, happy, simple, yellow, quiet...
- Long adjectives with three or more syllables e.g. beautiful, intelligent, expensive...

1.2. Short adverbs and long adverbs

Short adverbs are one-syllable adverbs. For example: far, fast, hard, near, right, wrong, etc.
Long adverbs are adverbs with two or more syllables. For example: beautifully, quickly, kindly,…

2. Comparative

Comparative is a comparison structure used when comparing two or more things or phenomena based on a certain criterion. In which one thing or phenomenon is MORE THAN the rest.

2.1. Comparative with short adjectives/adverbs

S + V + Adj/Adv + -er + than

E.g:

  • Jennie’s grades are higher than her sister’s.
  • Today is colder than yesterday. 
  • My girlfriend came later than me. 
  • Lindy is shorter than her younger sister.
  • My ruler is longer than yours. 
  • It has been quieter here since my dog went missing.

2.2. Comparative with short adjectives/adverbs

S + V + more + Adj/Adv + than

E.g:

  • He is a more professional soccer than me. 
  • He speaks Korean more fluently than his friend. 
  • She visits her family less frequently than I used to. 
  • This hat is more expensive than the others. 
  • My father drives more carefully than my brother. 

Note: Adverbs (far, much, a bit / a little, a lot) can be added to modify the comparison.

E.g: Mike’s phone is much more expensive than mine.

3. Superlative

The superlative is used when comparing many things or phenomena based on a certain criterion. In which there is one thing or phenomenon that is far superior to the rest.

In this structure, before each adjective used in the sentence, there is the word "the". The number of objects used for comparison is usually 3 or more. To describe a person or thing that has a certain characteristic that is superior to all other objects mentioned.

3.1. Superlative with short adjectives/adverbs

S + V + the + Adj/Adv + -est

E.g:

  • My brother is the tallest in our family.
  • Sunday is the coldest day of the month so far. 
  • He runs the fastest in my city. 
  • Linda is the youngest person in my office. 
  • My house is the highest one in my neighborhood.

3.1. Superlative with long adjectives/adverbs

S + V + the + most + Adj/Adv

E.g

  • The most boring thing about English course is doing grammar exercises. 
  • Lisa is the most careful person I ever have known. 
  • Of all the students, she does the most quickly.
  • This is the most difficult case we have ever encountered. 
  • Linda is the most intelligent student in my class. 

Note: You can add adverbs (very, by far, much, almost, quite) before the comparison phrase to bring emphasis.

E.g: Here is the very latest news about the accident.

4. Some rules about making comparative and superlative adjectives

You can also add more/most in front of adjectives to create comparatives and superlatives instead of having to add the -er/-est ending. But only if you want to emphasize comparison, or have another adjective with more than one syllable.

E.g:

The icing was supposed to be pink and white, but it looked more red than pink.
That sofa might look nice, but this one is more soft and comfortable.

For three-syllable adjectives formed by adding the prefix -un in front of an adjective ending in -y, you can add the word more / most or the suffix -er / -est to create the comparatives and superlatives.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
   unfriendly       unfriendlier / more unfriendly       the unfriendliest / most unfriendly   
unhappy unhappier / more unhappy the unhappiest / most unhappy

There are a few adjectives that have comparative and superlative irregular forms:

Adjective    Comparative Superlative
good / well better the best
bad / badly worse the worst
   many / much    more the most
little less the least
far    further / farther       the furthest / the farthes   
near nearer the nearest / the next
late later the latest / the last
old older / elder the oldest / the eldest

For adjectives formed by combining adjectives, you need to add more / most to form the superlative and superlative forms.

E.g: Going skiing was the most nerve-wracking experience I have ever had.

But if the first word of the adjective is an irregular adjective, or have a comparative and superlative form by adding the ending -er / -est. You just need to change that first adjective to the comparative and superlative form without adding the word more / most.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
low-paid lower-paid the lowest-paid
long-lasting longer-lasting    the longest-lasting   
   good-looking       better-looking    the best-looking

Some other notes:

The comparative can be emphasized by adding much / far / a lot / lots / a good deal / a great deal or slightly reduced by adding a bit / a little / slightly before the comparative form. Example: He is much more handsome than me.

The superlative can be emphasized by adding almost / much / quite / by far / far before the superlative form. Example: She is by far the best.

"Most" when used with the meaning "very" is not preceded by "the" and does not imply comparison. Example: He is most generous.

The following adjectives usually do not have a comparative form because they usually have absolute meanings.

  •  perfect
  • unique
  • extreme
  • supreme
  • top
  • absolute
  • prime
  • primary
  • matchless
  • full
  • empty
  • daily

5. Comparative and superlative exercises

Exercise 1: Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the word

1. Mom's dress is … coal mine. (expensive)

2. She has… garden in our neighborhood. (beautiful)

3. He is the… football player of Australia. (good)

4. This luggage is … than mine. (heavy)

5. He runs… than his sister. (quick)

6. Nina is … than Chris but Nandee is the … (short/short)

7. Luke has done… works than Roy but Ivan has done the… (many/many)

8. Japan is as … as China. (beautiful)

9. My sister is 5 years… than me. (young)

10. This was the … song I have ever listened to . (bad)

11. I speak English … now than two years ago. (fluent)

12. Could you say…? (clear)

13. I can eat … than John. (fast)

14. Our team did… of all. (bad)

15. He studied… than ever before. (hard)

Exercise 2: Rewrite the comparative sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence

1. I've never met any more handsome person than Tom.

⇒ Tom is ……………………

2. In my opinion, there is nobody as kind-hearted as my mother.

⇒ In my opinion, my mother is ……………………

3. There is no more intelligent student in this school than Anna.

⇒ Anna is ……………………..

4. This is the most delicious hamburger I've ever eaten.

⇒ I've …………………….

5. Have you got any boxes smaller than that one?

⇒ Is this …………?

Exercise 3: Choose the correct answer

1. I think Seoul is more beautiful/beautiful than Busan.

2. Is your pie more big/bigger than mine?

3. My mom's tall/taller than your mom!

4. Lions are more dangerous than/as kangaroos.

5. Math is badder/worse than Literature.

6. Bicycles are much more safer/much safer than motorbikes.

7. Australia is far/further hotter than Ireland.

8. It is strange but often a coke is more expensive/ expensiver than a beer.

Exercise 4: Correct the mistakes in the following sentences

1. This is the more wonderful movie she has ever seen.

2. No mountain in the world is the highest than Everest.

3. Sally is the thinner girl in the class.

4. The kitchen is smallest than the living room.

5. One of the greater football players in the world is Critsiano Ronaldo.

 

Answer:

Exercise 1:

1 – more expensive; 2 – beautiful; 3 – best; 4 – heavier; 5 – quicker; 6 – shorter/shortest; 7 – more/most; 8 – beautiful; 9 – younger; 10 – worst; 11 – more fluently; 12 – more clearly; 13 – faster; 14 – worst; 15 – harder.

Exercise 2:

1. Tom is the most handsome person I’ve ever met. 

2. In my opinion, my mother is more kind-hearted than anyone.

3. Anna is the most intelligent student in this school.

4. I’ve never eaten a more delicious hamburger than this one. 

5. Is this the biggest box you’ve got?

Exercise 3:

1 – more beautiful; 2 – bigger; 3 – taller; 4 – than; 5 – worse; 6 – much safer; 7 – far; 8 – more expensive

Exercise 4:

1. More ⇒ most

2. The highest ⇒ higher

3. Thinner ⇒ thinnest

4. Smallest ⇒ smaller

5. Greater ⇒ greatest