What is a superlative? A superlative is a word or phrase used to indicate an extreme degree of comparison. As an example, if you were to describe something as being “the tallest” or “the most intelligent,” these would be examples of using a superlative in order to give the utmost emphasis that this object is higher or smarter than all other objects.
Superlatives can also be used to describe quality such as “most beautiful” and “best tasting”, while they can even describe quantity by using phrases like “largest” and “most numerous”. Either way, the purpose of a superlative remains the same, that is to elevate one object above all others.
Examples of Superlatives
Superlatives are words or phrases that describe something with extreme emphasis. Choosing the right superlative can significantly enhance the impact of a description. Some common examples of superlatives include words like “biggest,” “smallest,” “fastest,” “weakest,” “greatest,” and even comparative adjectives such as “better” and “best.
Other forms of superlatives can be seen in adverbs, like “quickly” or “slowly,” plus intensifiers such as “very” and “extremely.” Knowing how to correctly apply these elements to your writing is an incredibly powerful tool for articulating the highest degree of a given quality.
How to Form the Comparative and Superlative Forms of Adjectives
Constructing the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives is a skill that comes with practice. To form the comparative, simply add -er to the end of an adjective when comparing two things, such as “faster” or “stronger.” When using irregular adjectives, however, you have to be aware of exceptions. Some common examples are “good/better/best” or “bad/worse/worst.”
Formation of the superlative form can be even trickier and typically requires you to use “the” before it. For example, “The fastest” or “The strongest.” As a general rule, if you are comparing three or more items then use “the” before the superlative form of the adjective. With enough practice and memorization, forming these variations will become second nature to even novice English users.
Irregular Adjectives and Their Comparative and Superlative Forms
Irregular adjectives are some of the most challenging words to remember. This is because their comparative and superlative forms do not adhere to a specific ending, as regular adjectives do (e.g., adding -er or -est to form comparatives and superlatives).
For example, “bad” becomes “worse” and “worst,” not badder and baddest. Similarly, “good” becomes “better” and “best,” not gooder and goodest. As with most grammar rules, remember the exception for irregular adjectives helps to better understand the rule as a whole!
Using the Comparative and Superlative Forms Correctly
Knowing how to use the comparative and superlative forms in writing is an important skill to master. It can be particularly tricky as words with different numbers of syllables may require different rules when forming the comparative or superlative.
Generally, one-syllable adjectives just require adding “-er” for the comparative form and “-est” for the superlative, while longer adjectives often require “more + adjective” and “most + adjective”.
For example, this means that one-syllable adjectives would be compared as “hot–hotter–hottest”, while four-syllable adjectives would be compared as “elaborate–more elaborate–most elaborate”. If you are unsure which rule to follow, there are many helpful online tools to remember correct usage for most common English words.
The Difference Between Regular and Irregular Comparatives/Superlatives
Comparative and superlative forms of adjectives can often seem complicated and difficult to navigate, particularly when it comes to differentiating between regular and irregular forms. When making comparison or expressing intensification, one might use a regular comparative or superlative form of an adjective if the adjective is made up of one syllable; for example, “small” would become “smaller” for the comparative and “smallest” for the superlative.
On the other hand if the adjective has two syllables or more, then it needs to take on an irregular comparative or superlative form; for example, “powerful” would become “more powerful” for the comparative and “most powerful” for the superlative.
It is important to keep these differences in mind while constructing a sentence in order to properly denote a comparison or intensification which requires comparative or superlative forms.
In conclusion, forming comparative and superlative forms of adjectives is a skill that requires practice. To properly form the comparative and superlative forms, one must remember to use “-er” or “-est” for regular adjectives (those which are made up of only one syllable) as well as exceptions for irregular adjectives such as “good/better/best” or “bad/worse/worst”.
Furthermore, when using comparatives and superlatives one must differentiate between regular and irregular forms in order to properly express comparison or intensification. With ample practice and memorization, these rules will become second nature!
Q: What is a superlative?
A: A superlative is the highest degree or form of an adjective. It is used to emphasize how much something surpasses all others in its class, such as when we say “She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen”. Superlatives are formed with either ‘-est’ or ‘most’ plus the base form of the adjective.
Q: How do you form the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives?
A: Comparative forms of adjectives are formed with either ‘-er’ or ‘more’ plus the base form of the adjective. We use these forms to compare two things, such as when we say “This dress is prettier than that one.” Superlative forms of adjectives are formed with either ‘-est’ or ‘most’ plus the base form of the adjective. We use these forms to emphasize how much something surpasses all others in its class, such as when we say “She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen”.
Q: When do you use the comparative and when do you use the superlative form?
A: The comparative form is used to compare two items, whereas the superlative form is used to emphasize how much one item surpasses all other items in its class.
Q: How do you compare more than two items with the comparative or superlative form?
A: When comparing more than two objects, you use the comparative form. For example, if you were comparing three dresses, you could say “This dress is prettier than those two”.
Q: What is the double comparatives/superlatives rule?
A: The double comparatives/superlatives rule is when we add ‘more’ or ‘most’ after another comparative or superlative form of an adjective to create a stronger degree of comparison. For example, if you wanted to emphasize how much someone was better than everyone else, you could say “She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen – by far the most gorgeous”. By adding the extra ‘most’, you create a greater degree of comparison. This is known as the double comparatives/superlatives rule.