There are three degrees of comparison in adverbs – the Positive, the Comparative, and the Superlative. The adverbs form their comparatives and superlatives using –er and –est , and more and most. Adverbs that end in –ly use the words more and most to form their comparatives and superlatives.

The one-syllable adverbs use ‘-er’ in the comparative form, and ‘-est’ in the superlative form.

Positive Comparative Superlative
early earlier earliest
fast faster fastest
hard harder hardest
high higher highest
late later latest
loud louder loudest
near nearer nearest
soon sooner soonest

 

Adverbs which end in ‘-ly’ or have three or more syllables each form the comparative with ‘more’ and the superlative with ‘most’.

Positive Comparative Superlative
angrily more angrily most angrily
brightly more brightly most brightly
dimly more dimly most dimly
freely more freely most freely
gladly more gladly most gladly
heavily more heavily most heavily
loudly more loudly most loudly
quietly more quietly most quietly
sweetly more sweetly most sweetly
terribly more terribly most terribly
 

The comparative form is used to compare two things.

  • We must not reach there later than 7 o’clock.
  • You speak more loudly than a loudspeaker.
  • Sirius shines more brightly than all the other stars.
 

The superlative form is used to compare three or more things.

  • He arrived the earliest, so he had to wait for the others.
  • Why do you have to speak the most loudly of all at the meeting?
  • Of all the girls, your sister sang the most sweetly.
 

It is not correct to use –er and more together, or –est and most together.

  • The tree is more taller than the giraffe. (Incorrect)
  • The tree is taller than the giraffe. (Correct)
  • This turkey is the most oldest in the farm. (Incorrect)
  • This turkey is the oldest in the farm. (Correct)
 

Some adverbs form the comparative and the superlative irregularly.

Positive Comparative Superlative
badly worse (than) worst (the)
far farther farthest
far further furthest
little less least
much/many more most
well better best

 

Sentence examples:

  • Of the two teddy bears, which do you like better?
  • This has to be the farthest I have ever walked in my life.
 

(For more on comparison of adverbs using more and most, see List 8 - Adverbs)