There are three degrees of comparison in adverbs – the Positive, the Comparative, and the Superlative. The adverbs form their comparatives and superlatives using –er and –est , and more and most. Adverbs that end in –ly use the words more and most to form their comparatives and superlatives.
The one-syllable adverbs use ‘-er’ in the comparative form, and ‘-est’ in the superlative form.
Adverbs which end in ‘-ly’ or have three or more syllables each form the comparative with ‘more’ and the superlative with ‘most’.
The comparative form is used to compare two things.
- We must not reach there later than 7 o’clock.
- You speak more loudly than a loudspeaker.
- Sirius shines more brightly than all the other stars.
The superlative form is used to compare three or more things.
- He arrived the earliest, so he had to wait for the others.
- Why do you have to speak the most loudly of all at the meeting?
- Of all the girls, your sister sang the most sweetly.
It is not correct to use –er and more together, or –est and most together.
- The tree is more taller than the giraffe. (Incorrect)
The tree is taller than the giraffe. (Correct)
- This turkey is the most oldest in the farm. (Incorrect)
This turkey is the oldest in the farm. (Correct)
Some adverbs form the comparative and the superlative irregularly.
- Of the two teddy bears, which do you like better?
- This has to be the farthest I have ever walked in my life.
(For more on comparison of adverbs using more and most, see List 8)