Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

crowd content grammar school

English is a language with its fair share of rules as well as exceptions to those rules.

As a result, even the most skilled writers can slip up from time to time, which is why a short refresher from our Writer’s University on topics such as comparative and superlative adjectives can prove so useful.

Here is a short overview of what the lesson covers:

What Are Comparative and Superlative Adjectives?

The lesson begins by defining comparative and superlative adjectives. Like their name suggests, comparative adjectives are used to compare two objects in the same sentence.

In contrast, superlative adjectives describe a single object as being at either the upper end or the lower end of a particular characteristic.

The Simple Cases

Some examples are simple to remember because they tend to follow the rules. For example, one-syllable adjectives tend to use -er and -est for their comparative and superlative forms, whereas three-syllable adjectives tend to use more and most in front of them.

Similarly, adjectives that end up in y tend to use -er and -est as well after the y has been replaced by an i.

The Not So Simple Cases

Of course, English wouldn’t be English with its exceptions, which is why some two-syllable adjectives use -er and -est, some use more and most, and some use both.

Even worse, there are irregular adjectives such as good and bad that use none of the rules mentioned here, meaning that writers should always have Google ready as a reference if they are not sure. In most cases, Merriam-Webster is a great go-to source.

This is but one of the lessons that can be found on Writer’s University, stay tuned for more previews soon.

Laura Dohan

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Laura is the Marketing and Community Manager at Crowd Content. She manages over 2000 content writers, content marketing, advertising, and community at Crowd Content. You'll see her popping in on the Crowd Content blog and on twitter, @laurdoh.

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Christine Birch
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Christine Birch

Thank you for these previews of the lessons. They’re great teasers for Writer’s University which sounds like an excellent resource.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

The Writer’s University does sound like a solid resource for writers who don’t have a good understanding of grammer. I mean, grammar [without the comma splice].

Christine Birch
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Christine Birch

Everyone could use a little review now and then. 🙂

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

That’s why there’ll always be a need for editors — no matter how good a writer gets.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

There was a poster in my university newspaper’s newsroom that said, “The secret of good writing is good editing. Good editors don’t allow bad writing.” That statement has always been true and always will be true.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

That’s a great quote. It’s ultimately editors who decide what gets published so often. Even if they don’t make changes to something, they’re still responsible for the quality of what they approve.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

That poster should be displayed in every newspaper and magazine office in America – and maybe the world.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

Absolutely. I did web copy for a company that hired all of their editors from Bangalore who didn’t speak American English, or particularly good English at all. When the whole operation started to slide, it was no surprise to anyone.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

Yes, it’s good to know that this resource is available. No wonder English-speaking toddlers often say the cutest things when they form superlatives. A quote from my family: “I’m more adorabler than him!”

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It’s a lot cuter than when adults use words like “worser” (and I have heard adults use that word).

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

*audible groan*

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

I don’t know why, but “worser” annoys me more than ungrammatical phrases like “Was you there?” or “He ain’t got it.” Maybe “worser” just seems lazier.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

I’m sure that when I try to speak French or Spanish, I must mangle the comparatives and superlatives all the time. I’ll bet I sound like a big overgrown toddler.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It’s one thing when you have a hard time with a language you aren’t that familiar with. It’s another to butcher a language you’ve spoken your entire life. There’s no reason for that.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

And yet, so few people know how to speak like educated adults.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

Yeah, I was once told that I sound like Tonto from the Lone Ranger when I speak Spanish, lol.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

When I taught ESL, this took weeks to go over!

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

What’s it like teaching ESL? Is it extremely frustrating at times?

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

It was a very rewarding experience. I was teaching immigrants, so they benefited tremendously from even minor improvements.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

That’s good to hear. Good for you for giving your time to something so important.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

I’ve helped out at ESL classes in my city as a volunteer. It’s so much fun! The students are adults from all over the world, and they are so cheerful and positive!

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

It is a blast, and you get to learn about all of your students’ cultures as well.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

I’ll bet they had a lot of interesting stories to share.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

They did — and the pot luck dinner was astounding! Latinos don’t warn you if a dish has jalapenos in it.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

They really should. Some people just can’t handle jalapenos.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

So true! I felt like I was attending a party every time I helped out in a class. It also made me appreciate how brave my grandparents and others were to get on a boat in 1905 and leave behind their country and family for an unknown country where they couldn’t speak the language! Many of my ESL students were refugees, who left because of oppression or violence.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It’s easy for us who have lived in America all our lives to forget what incredible bravery was required for our ancestors to pack up everything they owned and sail to a foreign land in search of hope of a better life (not promise, mind you, just hope). How many of us could do the same?

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

That’s so true. I am really inspired by their courage, They really took a great leap into the unknown when they emigrated.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

Not many, or at least not easily. It takes extraordinary courage to pick up somewhere new, even within the same country, so I can’t even imagine what that was like a few hundred years ago.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

I never would’ve thought it could be fun – in fact, I thought it would probably be the exact opposite of that. It probably helps when your students have good attitudes and actually want to learn. Too bad the same can’t be said about many American students.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

That sounds really rewarding! I know people who have done that in foreign countries, but I’m sure there’s a huge demand for it here as well.

Darleene Rasmussen
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Darleene Rasmussen

Great sneak peek for this lesson! I speak multiple languages and find refreshers like this very helpful. Every language has its own rules about adjectives and how they are structured. It is always good to have resources in case I forget something.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

I’d never thought about the difficulties of adapting to a different language’s rules. Interesting point. For me, simply speaking another language is difficult enough.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

Do you also right in multiple languages? If so, is it hard to switch between them?

Charlie Parker
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Charlie Parker

Laura, as always, I love your grammar mini tutorials. I always have a few minutes to brush up on these principles, especially after all the terrible grammar I see on the web throughout the day.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

Seeing enough terrible grammar is likely to drive a professional writer over the edge sooner or later.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

Would it drive a postmodern writer over the edge?

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It’s certainly possible.

Charlie Parker
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Charlie Parker

Probably the most useful thing I’ve read so far today. You make learning grammar funner than then rest.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It takes a special talent to make learning grammar fun. Learning it is necessary, but not necessarily enjoyable.

Doe Richard
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Doe Richard

An interesting write-up. The concepts of superlative and comparative adjectives can be tough (read more tougher) to grasp sometimes, especially for non-native English speakers.

Bethany A.
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Bethany A.

Thank you for this post. I am really not the best at remembering this kind of thing. 🙂

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

This post is a good reminder that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for making grammatical errors. As Laura pointed out, it happens to the best of us. This post is also a good resource in our effort to make as few grammatical errors as possible.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

After reading this it’s clear that Merriam-Webster will always be useful writers, whether in book or electronic form.

Doe Richard
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Doe Richard

I just checked out the Writer’s University. Lots of learning resources on a wide spectrum of topics there!

pastorjamesledbetter
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pastorjamesledbetter

Super lesson. Thank you so much.

wlrahilly
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wlrahilly

I actually find the Writer’s University very useful. I was able to polish up on some of my grammar mistakes I’ve been making.

melissann
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melissann

With a BA in English, this should not have been helpful to me, but it was. Thanks for the keeping things simple, getting back down to the basics.

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