Equatives, Comparatives and Superlatives

Introduction


Equatives, Comparatives and Superlatives are special forms of adjectives. They are used to compare two or more things. Generally, equatives are formed by using as + adjective + as, comparatives are formed by using -er and superlatives are formed by using -est. This page will explain the rules for forming equatives, comparatives and superlatives, and also show some basic ways of using them.

Forming regular comparatives and superlatives

How these forms are created depends on how many syllables there are in the adjective. Syllables are like "sound beats". For instance, "sing" contains one syllable, but "singing" contains two -- sing and ing. Here are the rules:
Adjective form
Equative Comparative
Superlative
       
Only one syllable, ending in E. Examples:
wide, fine, cute
as + Adjective + as:
as wide as,
as fine as,
as cute as
Add -R:
wider, finer, cuter
Add -ST:
widest, finest, cutest
Only one syllable, with one vowel and one consonant at the end. Examples:
hot, big, fat
as + Adjective + as:
as hot as,
as big as,
as fat as
Double the consonant, and add -ER:
hotter, bigger, fatter
Double the consonant, and add -EST:
hottest, biggest, fattest
Only one syllable, with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end. Examples:
light, neat, fast
as + Adjective + as:
as light as,
as neat as,
as fast as
Add -ER:
lighter, neater, faster
Add -EST:
lightest, neatest, fastest
Two syllables, ending in Y. Examples:
happy, silly, lonely
as + Adjective + as:
as happy as,
as silly as,
as lonely as
Change Y to I, then add -ER:
happier, sillier, lonelier
Change Y to I, then add -EST:
happiest, silliest, loneliest
Two syllables or more, not ending in Y. Examples:
modern, interesting, beautiful
as + Adjective + as:
as modern as,
as interesting as,
as beautiful as
Use MORE before the adjective:
more modern, more interesting, more beautiful
Use MOST before the adjective:
most modern, most interesting, most beautiful
Irregular
Forms:

bad
good
little
much
far

as + Adjective + as:
as bas as,
as good as,
as little as,
as much as,
as far as

worse
better
less
more
farther/further


worst
best
least
most
farthest, furthest
fun
funny
as fun as,
as funny as
more fun than
funnier than
the most fun
the funniest

How to use comparatives and superlatives

Equatives Equatives are used to compare two things that are equal in the quality that you are describing.  You use as + adjective + as.

Dan is 5 feet 10 inches tall.  His father is 5 feet 10 inches tall.

  • Dan is as tall as his father.
  • Dan's cat has eyes as blue as sapphires.
  • My sister's hair is as long as mine (is).

Equatives are also used to compare two things that are unequal ( not equal) in the quality that you are describing. You use not as + adjective + as

Today isn't hot.  Yesterday was hot.

  • Today isn't as hot as yesterday (was).
  • This soup isn't as spicy as the soup I had last night.
  • I'm not as intelligent as the other students.
  • My house isn't as big as your house.
Comparatives
Comparatives are used to compare two things. You can use sentences with THAN, or you can use a conjunction like BUT. Examples:
  • Jonas is taller than Andy.
  • Jonas is tall, but Dan is taller.
Superlatives
Superlatives are used to compare more than two things. Superlative sentences usually use THE, because there is only one superlative. Examples:
  • Dan is the tallest in the class.
  • Patricia is tall, and Jonas is taller, but Dan is the tallest.
  • That was the most difficult test of all our tests.

    Clues for using the superlative:  in the world/country/city/school, of all,  of all the students, one of...,  have/has ever...

    • Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.
    • He was the noisiest student of all.
    • Ann is one of the most serious students in class.
    • That was the best film I have ever seen.

    Note:  You can't use "than" with the superlative:  He is the tallest than I.  He is the tallest in our class.
    You must use "than' with the comparative form:
    He is taller than everyone else in the class.

Practice Exercise 1:  Write in the correct forms as shown in number 1.

Adjective Equative Comparison Superlative
1. tall as tall as taller than the tallest
2. sunny      
3. bad      
4. expensive      
5. far      
6. dangerous      
7. red      
8. famous      
9. nice      
10. hard      
11. friendly      
12. good      
13. dirty      
14.  polluted      
15. exciting      
16. little      

Practice Exercise 2

Practice Exercise 3