Hey, English fans! Today we would like to introduce you to a helpful tool in this beautiful language: comparatives and superlatives. Knowing how to use them properly will take you a step further towards mastering the English language!
We use comparatives and superlatives to talk about the characteristics of a thing, using another similar one as a reference. As a plus, we can also compare one specific object to a whole group, making it stand out from the rest. Keep on reading if you want to learn more about comparatives and superlatives, and have fun learning English with Inmersivo!
Comparatives are an excellent tool for facing the same characteristic from two or more different things. For example, we can talk about the height of two people or the size of two houses. There are infinite possibilities! All adjectives have a comparative form.
To explain this more straightforwardly, take a look at this example:
Jim is taller than Tom.
This is a simple example to show how comparatives work. In this sentence, we compare two people by using the same attribute from both of them as a reference. See how we modified the adjective tall to transform it into a comparative? What else can you see?
Whenever we use a comparative structure, we introduce the second clause with the word “than”. Thus, we have our main subject, in this case, Jim, a comparative form of the adjective we refer to, and a second person to compare Jim to.
So far, so good, right? Now, let’s talk about rules for comparative adjectives. Short-form adjectives need adding -er. This termination means, in short, “more [adjective]”. On the other hand, long-form adjectives can’t become longer than what they are. So, for the sake of language and simplicity, we say “more [adjective] than”.
Take a look at this example of a long-form adjective in its comparative form:
His house is more beautiful than mine.
Other examples of long-form adjectives can be expensive, intelligent, mysterious, incredible. In other words, most long-form adjectives contain at least three syllables. However, this is not an exact rule (well, nothing is quite precise in English, right?)
Now, for short-form adjectives, there are some spelling rules you need to follow. These rules aim at pronunciation goals, trying not to change the sounds of the original adjective when adding the -er suffix.
Now that we know how to spell comparatives, we can discuss a small group of adjectives known as irregular (there are always odd things in English). These adjectives have their own rules when used in their comparative form. Take a look at them:
Although they don’t follow spelling rules, irregular comparatives also take “than” to introduce the clause. For example:
Sarah plays better than John.
Superlatives work similarly. The main difference between them and comparatives is that we use superlatives to talk about one specific part of a whole group. Thus, by comparing it to the rest, we make it stand out because of a particular feature.
When we use the superlative form of an adjective, we can decide what group we refer to. It can be the world, a classroom, or just a bunch of few people. Whatever the case, it is essential to know that no other thing in that specific group will be more [adjective] than our subject.
Let’s take a look at an example of a superlative sentence:
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world.
What can you see in this example? Apart from the free lesson on the animal kingdom (which is true, by the way), we took one specific subject and compared one characteristic to a group. In this case, our subject is the peregrine falcon, the characteristic is speed, and the group is the animals in the world.
Now, what does this sentence mean? If we compare the peregrine falcon to any other animal in the world, none will be faster than it. Thus, instead of writing a million comparative sentences, we choose to use the superlative form of the adjective.
As with comparatives, superlatives follow a pattern. There is a rule for those words containing less than three syllables and another for the rest. Short-form adjectives take the suffix -est, while long-form ones have a different treatment. This suffix means “the most [adjective].
Consequently, we need to add more words to the sentence whenever we want to transform a long-form adjective into its superlative form. In such cases, we add “the most [adjective]”. Here’s an example:
My girlfriend is the most beautiful woman in the world. (Quite cheesy, right?)
As regards spelling rules, superlatives also follow the same pattern as comparatives. However, while the cases remain the same, the results change a little bit. Look at the different alternatives for superlative adjectives and their spelling rules:
Yes! Superlatives also have some irregular cases that follow no pattern at all. Fortunately, they are the same adjectives we mentioned previously, so they are not that difficult to remember. Here’s a chart for you to see the different cases of irregular superlative forms.
Let’s take a look at an example of a superlative structure using an irregular adjective:
Messi is the best soccer player in the world.
As you may have noticed, comparative and superlative structures are not complex at all. However, they are a crucial tool when thriving to master the English language. Feel free to ask your English teacher at Inmersivo, Empointe’s learning platform, for more exercises and information on this particular topic. Thank you for reading, see you next time!