Comparatives and Superlatives

This week I am writing about a grammar point which is very useful to everyone speaking or writing in English. Comparatives and Superlatives can be confusing, but they are used a lot for describing, giving opinions, etc.

As well as being generally useful, if you are taking any exams in English like the IELTS test, then using comparatives and/or superlatives well can really help you to get a good score.

So let’s have a look…

Comparatives

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How would you describe the men in this picture?

What words do you think should be written in this space?

The man on the right is _________________ the man on the left.

 

Comparatives are used to compare two nouns.

For example:

  1. The man on the right is taller than the man on the left.
  2. Angelina Jolie is more beautiful than me.

Notice that we always use ‘than’ after the adjective when we are comparing two nouns: ‘taller than’, ‘more beautiful than’.

  1. You can use +er as in my first example: take the adjective ‘tall and add ‘er’ to make ‘taller’.
  2. Or you can use more+ as in my second example: take ‘more’ and add ‘beautiful’ to make ‘more beautiful’.

So how do we know which to use? +er or more+ ?

The rule is:

  • If the adjective is one syllable (a small word with one sound, like big, tall, old, nice, short, etc.) then most of the time we use +er (eg bigger, taller, older, nicer, shorter, etc.).
  • If the adjective is two syllables ending in y, we change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and use +er (eg happy to happier, funny to funnier, easy to easier, silly to sillier, friendly to friendlier, etc.)
  • If the adjective is two syllables not ending in y, we usually use more+ (eg boring to more boring, careful to more careful, special to more special, etc.)
  • If the adjective is three syllables or more, we use more+ (eg delicious to more delicious, exciting to more exciting, etc.)

*NOW YOU TRY:

Here are some pictures. Can you write some sentences using comparatives?

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Superlatives

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How would you describe the columns in this picture?

What words do you think should be written in this space?

Column C is ______________________ .

 

Superlatives are used to compare three or more nouns.

For example:

  1. Column C is the tallest.
  2. Angelina Jolie is the most beautiful actress.

Notice that we always use ‘the’ before the adjective when we are comparing three or more nouns: ‘the tallest, ‘the most beautiful’.

  1. You can use +est as in my first example: take the adjective tall and add ‘est’ to make tallest’.
  2. Or you can use most+ as in my second example: take ‘most’ and add ‘beautiful’ to make ‘most beautiful’.

So, again, how do we know which to use? +est or most+ ?

The rule is:

  • If the adjective is one syllable (a small word with one sound, like big, tall, old, nice, short, etc.) then most of the time we use +est (eg the biggest, the tallest, the oldest, the nicest, the shortest, etc.).
  • If the adjective is two syllables ending in y, we change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and use +est (eg happy to the happiest, funny to the funniest, easy to the easiest, silly to the silliest, friendly to the friendliest, etc.)
  • If the adjective is two syllables not ending in y, we usually use the most+ (eg boring to the most boring, careful to the most careful, special to the most special, etc.)
  • If the adjective is three syllables or more, we use the most+ (eg delicious to the most delicious, exciting to the most exciting, etc.)

*NOW YOU TRY:

Here are some pictures. Can you write some sentences using superlatives?

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Of course this is English and there are always exceptions to every rule, but I hope that this basic explanation helps you to understand a little bit better.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at charlottesenglishlessons@gmail.com.

Have a lovely week!

 

 

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