The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Navigation: Quick Links

Professor writing on a chalkboard




Writers Workshop: Writer Resources

Grammar Handbook: Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparative and Superlative

Comparative: the second or middle degree of comparison in adjectives or adverbs

Superlative: the third or highest degree of comparison in adjectives or adverbs

The comparative and superlative degrees are formed by adding the -er and -est suffix to adjectives and adverbs with a single consonant for an ending.

Word Comparative Superlative
big bigger biggest
soon sooner soonest

Adjectives and adverbs ending in -y drop the -y and add an -ier in the comparative degree and an -iest in the superlative degree:

Word Comparative Superlative
dry drier driest
early earlier earliest

Adjectives and adverbs ending in the silent or mute -e drop the ending -e and add the -er for the comparative and the -est for the superlative:

Word Comparative Superlative
pale paler palest
free freer freest

Degrees of comparison can also be distinguished with the use of "more" and "most": more clever; most clever.

Irregular Adjectives

Word Comparative Superlative
good better best
bad worse worst
much more most
little less least
far farther
farthest
further
furthest
old older
elder
oldest
eldest

Irregular Adverbs

Word Comparative Superlative
badly worse worst
much more most
little less least
far farther
farthest
further
furthest
much more most
well better best