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23. Comparative and superlative forms


1 The comparison of adjectives

We form the comparative and superlative of short adjectives (e.g. cheap) and long adjectives
(e.g. expensive) in different ways.

There are some less expensive ones here, look.

2 Short and long adjectives

One-syllable adjectives (e.g. small, nice) usually have the -er, -est ending.
Your hi-fi is smaller.
Emma needs a bigger computer.
This is the nicest colour.
This room is the warmest.
But we use more, most before words ending in -ed.
Everyone was pleased at the results, but Vicky was the most pleased.

We also use more, most with three-syllable adjectives (e.g. ex-cit-ing) and with longer ones.
The film was more exciting than the book.
This dress is more elegant.
We did the most interesting project.
This machine is the most reliable.

Some two-syllable adjectives have -er, -est, and some have more, most. Look at this information.

3 Spelling

There are some special spelling rules for the -er and -est endings.

4 The comparison of adverbs

Some adverbs have the same form as an adjective, e.g. early, fast, hard, high, late, long, near.
They form the comparative and superlative with -er, -est.
Can't you run faster than that?
Andrew works the hardest.
Note also the spelling of earlier and earliest.

Many adverbs are an adjective + -Iy, e.g. carefully, easily, nicely, slowly.
They form the comparative and superlative with more, most.
We could do this more easily with a computer.
Of all the players it was Matthew who planned his tactics the most carefully.

In informal English we use cheaper, cheapest, louder, loudest, quicker, quickest and slower, slowest rather than more cheaply, the most loudly, etc.
Melanie reacted the quickest.
You should drive slower in fog.

Note the forms sooner, soonest and more often, most often.
Try to get home sooner.
I must exercise more often.

5 Irregular forms

Good, well, bad, badly and far have irregular forms.

You've got the best handwriting.
How much further are we going?

We can use elder, eldest + noun instead of older, oldest, but only for people in the same family.
My elder/older sister got married last year.

6 Comparing quantities

We use more, most and their opposites less and least to compare quantities.
I haven't got many books. You've got more than I have.
The Hotel Bristol has the most rooms.
Trevor spends less on clothes than Laura does.
Emma made the least mistakes.

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