One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Forming comparative and superlative adjectives
The comparative form of an adjective is used for comparing two people or things (e.g. he is taller than me), while the superlative is used for comparing one person or thing with every other member of their group (e.g. he was the tallest boy in the class).
Adjectives make their comparative and superlative forms in different ways, depending on the base adjective itself. Here’s a quick-reference guide to the spelling of comparative and superlative adjectives:
Adjectives with one syllable
In general, if the adjective has one syllable, then the letters -er or -estare added:
Adjectives with one syllable ending in e
If the adjective has one syllable and ends in a silent e, drop the e and add -er or -est:
Adjectives with two syllables
Adjectives with two syllables vary. Some add -er/-est:
Some use the words ‘more’ for the comparative and ‘most’ for the superlative:
|famous||more famous||most famous|
Many can do either, like clever:
|clever||cleverer/more clever||cleverest/most clever|
Adjectives with three syllables or more
If the adjective has three syllables or more, then the words ‘more’ and ‘most’ are used:
|interesting||more interesting||most interesting|
|attractive||more attractive||most attractive|
Adjectives that change their spelling
Some adjectives change their spelling when forming the comparative and superlative:
Some one-syllable adjectives that end with a single consonant (e.g. big, wet, sad, fat) double this consonant before adding -er or -est:
If the adjective ends in y (e.g. happy, greedy, or tidy), change they to an i and add -er or -est:
Some common adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms that you just have to learn (most dictionaries also give these spellings if you’re not sure):
|little (of a quantity)||less||least|
Back to spelling.
You might also be interested in:
In this article we explore how to impress employers with a spot-on CV.