Comparatives and Superlatives as Modifiers

Introduction to Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparatives and superlatives fall under the grammatical category of 'modifiers.' These are words or phrases that give more information about the words that they modify, thus ‘modifying' the meaning. Comparatives are used to compare two things, while superlatives are used to show the highest degree of something within a group or between comparisons. This tutorial will guide you through understanding, identifying, and using comparatives and superlatives appropriately in English grammar.

Understanding Comparatives

Comparatives are words that help to establish a comparison between two elements. They compare two things and to differentiate them based on a given attribute. The structure often involves the use of 'than' after the comparative.

Forming Comparatives

To form comparatives, we normally add ‘-er’ to the end of the adjective. If the adjective is a long word (consists of two or more syllables), we use 'more' before the adjective.

  • Short Adjectives: tall – taller, fast – faster, small – smaller
  • Long Adjectives: beautiful – more beautiful, expensive – more expensive

Irregular Comparatives

Some adjectives have irregular comparative forms and do not follow the general rules. Some examples include:

  • Good – better
  • Bad – worse
  • Far – further

Understanding Superlatives

Superlative forms indicate that something has the highest degree of the quality specified. Superlatives are used to compare more than two things.

Forming Superlatives

The formation of superlatives depends on the length of the adjective as well. For short adjectives, add ‘-est’. For longer adjectives, add ‘most’ before the adjective.

  • Short Adjectives: tall – tallest, fast – fastest, small – smallest
  • Long Adjectives: beautiful – most beautiful, expensive – most expensive

Irregular Superlatives

Just like comparatives, some adjectives have irregular superlative forms. For example:

  • Good – best
  • Bad – worst
  • Far – furthest

Rules for Using Comparatives and Superlatives

It’s essential to adhere to general grammar rules while using comparatives and superlatives.


Make sure that you are consistent in your comparison. Ensure that the things you are comparing are similar in some way.

'Sonia is taller than her sister.'

'Sonia is taller than mathematics.'

Double Comparatives and Superlatives

Avoid using double comparatives and superlatives. This is considered incorrect in standard English.

'John is more taller than Sam.'

Do not use comparative and superlative together

You cannot use both the comparative and superlative form together for the same adjective.

'He is the most taller in his class.'

Using Comparatives and Superlatives with Nouns

While using comparatives and superlatives with nouns, you have to carefully consider the nature of the noun. Countable nouns generally follow the comparative or superlative + noun formula. For uncountable nouns, it often follows the comparative + of + noun or superlative + of + noun.


Comparatives and superlatives are crucial in English grammar as they facilitate comparison and differentiation. They are often easy to understand and employ in sentences once the basic rules and structures are known. Practice using them regularly, and your confidence in your English communication skills will soar.

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