Adjectives have three forms which we can use when we compare two or more nouns: positive, comparative and superlative. The positive form is used when comparing two equal persons or things, and the comparative and superlative forms when comparing two or more unequal nouns.
The positive form
When we use the positive form of adjective to make comparison, we use such expressions: as . . . as; not as . . . as, etc. to compare two equal things or persons.
The comparative form
We use adjectives to describe a noun. We can also use adjectives to compare two nouns in terms of size, length, quality and others. The comparative form is used to compare two unequal persons or things. In using the comparative form of adjective to describe how one person or thing is when compared to another person or thing, we add the letters -er to the end of the adjective words (big – bigger; small – smaller) and the word than after the comparative adjective (longer than, taller than).
Not all adjectives can end with -er. For some adjectives, we use the word more in front of them (careful – more careful; tired – more tired). When using the word more, we also use the word than to follow the comparative adjective (more careful than; more tired than).
Some words cannot be used as comparative adjectives by adding "-er"
Do not use “more” and “er” together for an adjective when making comparison
More than one comparative adjective may be used to make a comparison
The superlative form
We use the superlative adjective when we compare three or more nouns. It is formed by adding est to the end of the adjective or adding the word most in front of it. The word the has to precede the superlative adjective.
To form a comparative adjective, we look at the number of syllables a regular adjective has. Regardless of the number of syllables, the adjective itself does not change in form when used with more or most.
For adjectives of one syllable, we normally add -er to the end of the comparative adjective (high – higher, weak – weaker) and -est in their superlative forms (highest, weakest).
If an adjective of one syllable ends with an e, just add an r (pale – paler; safe – safer).
If an adjective ends in a consonant, the consonant must be doubled (big – bigger; mad – madder)
Example of an adjective that has two syllables: funny has two syllables: fun-ny
If an adjective has two syllables and ends in y, drop the y and add –ier (early – earlier; happy – happier; pretty – prettier).
If an adjective has two syllables and does not end in y, add the word more before the adjective (more handsome, more helpful; more purple).
Example of a three-syllable adjective: beautiful has three syllables: beau-ti-ful.
For an adjective with three or more syllables, use the word more in front of the adjective to form the comparative form and the word most in front of the superlative form.
Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.
The following table shows adjectives that are not regular
|as good as||better than||the best|
|as bad as||worse than||the worst|
|as little as||less than||the least|
|as much as||more than||the most|
|as many as||more than||the most|
|as far as||farther than||the farthest|
|as far as||further than||the furthest|
List 17 - The Comparison of Adjectives shows the comparison of adjectives for most common (and uncommon) words.