Grammar Mishaps: Adjective Degrees - Positive, Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Taylor is goofy, Georgia is goofier, but Aiden is the goofiest!

Three Degrees of Adjectives

I received another hub request on the degrees of adjectives: positive, comparative and superlative. I'll attempt to give the basic breakdown of each and how they are interrelated.

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns. They can answer, which, what kind, or how many. We can use three forms to compare adjectives: positive, comparative and superlative. We use these degrees of adjectives to show points of reference.

Positive Adjectives

Positive adjectives stand alone. They are the sole modifier of a noun or pronoun. They do not compare the noun/pronoun with any other. Even though they are called "positive" adjectives they can describe something negative.

For example:

  • Her blue hat was brilliant. (Blue is the positive adjective modifying the noun, hat.)
  • She was a smart woman. (Smart is the positive adjective modifying the noun, woman.)

Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used when describing the differences between ONLY two items.

For example, take the two words: orangutan and rhinoceros

  • Rhinoceros is a longer word than orangutan; or
  • Orangutan is a shorter word than rhinoceros.

Comparative adjectives, used to describe only two items, can be used to describe groups of items as long as there are only two groups.

For example:

  • Their swim team was faster than our swim team.

Comparative Adjective Suffixes

With one syllable adjectives and sometimes two syllable adjectives, especially those ending in "y", we add the suffix "er". When the adjective is multi-syllabic we sometimes use the the terms "more" or "less" to describe the comparison. Never use both "er" and "more" or "less". E.g., The meal was more better than last night. This is INCORRECT.

For example:

  • big, bigger
  • happy, happier
  • obnoxious, more obnoxious
  • careful, less careful

Note:

  • When the adjective ends in "e" just add an "r". (E.g., late, later)
  • When the adjective has a consonant, vowel, consonant ending, double the ending letter and add "er". (E.g., red, redder)
  • When the adjective ends in a "y", change the "y" to "i" and add "er". (E.g., early, earlier)

Remember: There are always irregular forms that don't follow these rules. E.g., good, better; bad, worse; little, less.

Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives are used when describing three items or more. Superlative adjectives are never used with two items. They are used to express the highest degree of the item you are expressing in comparison to the other items. They are the most extreme in the group of items.

For example, take the three words: orangutan, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus

  • Hippopotamus is the longest word; or
  • Orangutan is the shortest word.

Superlative Adjective Suffixes

With one syllable adjectives and sometimes two syllable adjectives, especially those ending in "y", we add the suffix "est". When the adjective is multi-syllabic we sometimes use the the terms "most" or "least" to describe the comparison. Never use both "est" and "most" or "least".

For example:

  • big, bigger, biggest
  • happy, happier, happiest
  • obnoxious, more obnoxious, most obnoxious
  • careful, less careful, least careful

Note:

  • When the adjective ends in "e" just add an "st". (E.g., late, later, latest)
  • When the adjective has a consonant, vowel, consonant ending, double the ending letter and add "est". (E.g., red, redder, reddest)
  • When the adjective ends in a "y", change the "y" to "i" and add "est". (E.g., early, earlier, earliest)

Again, remember: There are always irregular forms that don't follow these rules. E.g., good, better, best; bad, worse, worst; little, less, least.

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Thoughts, Comments, Questions? 87 comments

Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

I always have a difficult time remembering the three types of adjectives and how they are modified! The way you state it in this hub is easy to understand and remember!


vanz 4 years ago

what is the comparative degree for many?


jeraldine 4 years ago

what is positive,comparative and superlative degree of the word in and out.


Francis 4 years ago

What is the positive, comparative and superlative degree of the word in and out


maria pamela v. devillena 4 years ago

oh my god this is great


Sham 4 years ago

Got my answers !!!!!!


sarah 4 years ago

This is great thank you


kim, 5 years ago

thank's sa sagot now i know


CathErine LoPez 5 years ago

...thanks for the info about the adjectives!!... this was helpful :-)


Mike 5 years ago

This was nice! keep it up.


xyna mae cute 5 years ago

thanks for your examples


taewoo 5 years ago

this is awesome it helps me a lot


jaceen 5 years ago

it's less than twenty miles to dallas


D. R. K. Sarma 5 years ago

Is it correct if I say more noisy and most noisy. can`t we say noise-noiser-noisest which I think does n`t exist.Please clarify.


justin 5 years ago

i can make my assignment because of this...

this is really fan..


maryrosechathaiaz 5 years ago

its was so great to have my assignment....thanks for the info..;)


Jennychuk 5 years ago

You have made my day, it was fantastic you have refresh my memory and help me in my teaching work.


Maaz khan 5 years ago

please tell me the comparative and super degrees of :) safe, unjust, gay. And numerous


padhu 5 years ago

Thanks for the infos :)


Ram 5 years ago

This site is very useful to learn english.


nounoo 5 years ago

what u do is great.It helps me improving my english.but what about gentle and auther similar adjectives?


lea angelie silva 5 years ago

oh...... it helps me to answer my assignments thanks!!!!!!!!!!!


olivelaurel 5 years ago

i love english subject.........


NUR-----AIN BTE LASA 5 years ago

NOW,I NOW WHAT IS THE POSITIVE COMPARATIVE SUPERLATIVE .THANKS FOREVER..................


aarya khanal 5 years ago

very nice well done................


Micheal 5 years ago

Is it correct to use the words extreme and end together in a sentence?


RC REDDY 5 years ago

I've been searching for comparitive form of the adjective"super"


xxmexx 5 years ago

now i can recite in front of the class


vvvv 5 years ago

what are the comparative and superlative of up and late


Shreevathsa 5 years ago

Hi Robbin:)what is the comparative and superlative degrees of the word "less"...


steph 5 years ago

use among, in the or of the when constructing superlative adjectives like for instance: Jimmy is lucky. HIs brother Danny is luckier. The luckiest of the family is Jenny.


Ahmad 5 years ago

really helpful, thanks


ygoygoy 6 years ago

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. now i understood


rimshah 6 years ago

i was quiet confused but now em relax...........


Lord Voldemort 6 years ago

Hey, thanks for that! I couldn't for the life of me remember what positive, comparitive and superlative adjectives were ... and I have an exam next week ...

I mean, I can use grammar perfectly in my writing, but sometimes the names people use for things are confusing - I think, yes, I can use that, and then - wait ... what?

So, thanks a lot! :)


lady asha 6 years ago

thanks here i got the wrong answer :-(


farah 6 years ago

very few animals are as useful as th cow

[comparative sentence and superlative degrees]


who i m 6 years ago

thanks now i m become a top in my classroom yeheyyyyy


jabbawockeez 6 years ago

thanks to this info.because of this a have a highest score in english!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


jesri 6 years ago

thank you Robin


willian a silva 6 years ago

thanks. you helped so many.


catnanny 6 years ago

Actually the problem with comparatives and superlatives is about those special adjectives like pleasant, common, stupid, timid, handsome and some others which are not supposed to be formed with 'er' or 'est' but with 'more' and 'most'.But they are common now with 'er' and 'est' Moreover you can find ( and I did some time ago) in the same book, 'simpler' and 'more simple' just one page further. The same author can use both forms (not at the same time of course, not 'more simpler'). So, it means that both are correct. As to 'pleasanter'and 'pleasantest', I don't think that these are correct but you'll certainly come across them more and more often.


Noslen De Guzman 7 years ago

help me for my assignment here my assignment Complete The Chart by Supplying the missing from of the adjectives here is given. POSITIVE (GREAT)>> 1.studious _____ Comperative>> (GREATER) ______ Superlative>> Greatest _____ what is the answer????


catherine 7 years ago

hi tnx for the knowledge


fakiha 7 years ago

it`s great.i enjoyed a lot


Ivan 7 years ago

I want to find appositive


Elizabeth  7 years ago

Thank you, this was awesome and helped me!


Chell 7 years ago

thanks for this info! im doing this kind of stuff for some homework! im homeschooled...but i still get together with a group and studdy this stuff!!!


alexandra 7 years ago

what is the comparative and superlative of bady??? i'm soooo confused...?


lilen 7 years ago

it was very helpful to especially to me because i'm a graduating highschool student.Thanks!


hamid - kabul 8 years ago

hi, it was very good


Teeny Tots profile image

Teeny Tots 8 years ago from USA

Wow! woooooooo

Thanks for your Education. I will learn more from your hubs.


brishna 8 years ago

thanx a million my problem was solved


Al Kaabi 8 years ago

Hey thank for this


beboy 8 years ago

what are the part of adjective pls.,tell me the meaning plss. support me ^_^


mays 8 years ago

is this right (feeling adjectives usually go before fact adjevtives)please if anyone know tell me an example


Umpa-lumpa 8 years ago

good


violeta. 8 years ago

thanks for help us. I am not native speaker English.I speak spanish and it is hard for me two find the differece when to use less and when to use lesser. Also I want to ask you if is correct to use -most litlle- instead of my sister is smaller than you.

Thanks a lot . Was so nice to find you www page.


Ross 8 years ago

what is the comparative for super


asia 8 years ago

Cool


mary 8 years ago

tahank you


Jo 8 years ago

Hi Robin,

Are these sentences correct?

Which of these two sports involves the highest risk: snowboarding or surfing?

Which of these two skills is the easiest to learn: ice-skating or roller blading?

If they are or aren't correct can you please explain why?

Thank you.


froilan 9 years ago

thank you for your support


Vivian Marti 9 years ago

Need to know how to use worse v. worst. What is the difference? Pls advise. Thank you.


angel 9 years ago

hey thanks for this


Leon 9 years ago

Thanks for the help. My sister was just doing her homework, which involved comparative and superlative adjectives, and we were searching all over the Web 'till we got to your page. Thanks!


Robin profile image

Robin 9 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Hannah,

Mary is bad at basketball. (Bad is the positive adjective)

Lynn is worse at basketball than Mary. (Worse is the comparitive form of the adjective bad)

Kim is the worst at basketball. (Worst is the superlative form of the adjective bad)

bad, worse, worst

Thanks for the question!


Hannah 9 years ago

What is the positive and comparative of worst?


Robin profile image

Robin 9 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Carlos,

It is correct to say, "bluer" and "smarter".  Both words, "blue" and "smart", are one syllable and just require the "er" ending.  Thanks for the comment!


Robin profile image

Robin 9 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Karen,

Yes, It is correct to say, "She is one of the better..." to mean one of a possible few that are better in a group.  If you were to say, "She was the better speaker," then you would be speaking of only one person being better.  Great point!


Carlos 9 years ago

How come then I hear bluer instead of more blue or more smart instead of smarter?


karen FrosK 9 years ago

When one says: She was one of the better speakers at the conference, does this mean that there are only two speakers at the conference? I believe that this use is becoming common though incorrect to mean "one of the best." Am I right?


gredmondson profile image

gredmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco, California

Hi Robin,

Thanks so much for helping the world with grammar. Another Hub idea would be to do something on adjectives that have, by their definition, a superlative meaning. For example, "favorite" and "unique" have a superlative meaning. My female junior high students wanted to have more than one "best friend." When I told them that they coulde have only one "best" friend, they felt cheated. It didn't help much if I told them they could have all the good friends -- or wonderful friends -- that they wanted. But, then that was junior high.


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Good question. I believe it is okay to say "much better". When you describe something as "much better" you are saying that there is a large value gap between what your are describing. Thanks for reading!


laim 10 years ago

can you say much better


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

I greatly appreciate the comment, Oneal 1122! ;)


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Tom. Good question. In this sentence brilliant was meant as wonderful, modifying the noun hat. Blue is also an adjective modifying the noun, hat. I appreciate the vote of confidence. ;)


oneal1122 10 years ago

Thanks Robin. Your hubs serve as a great refresher course for grammar writing.


misfit profile image

misfit 10 years ago from England

I haven't real training in English

So I wish that my teacher'd been you.

But please won't you answer this question -

Is it 'hat' which is brilliant, or 'blue'?

I do appreciate the free tuition. Tom.


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Ha, Jaym. xo


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Jack. Unfortunately, I can only claim the one on the right. ;)


jmuriset profile image

jmuriset 10 years ago from Claremont

I love that photo!! Oh, and the hub is great, too. :) We all could have skipped grades K-6, if only we had had your grammar hubs! Wait, did I say that right? I mean, correctly? Correct? Oh forget it.


jstankevicz profile image

jstankevicz 10 years ago from Cave Creek

Glad you included the picture to help me smile, ‘cause the topic made my head hurt. You have three adorable models that demonstrate adjectives brilliantly!


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Funny! I think native speakers take a lot of English usage for granted. We just say what sounds right; most of the time we're correct. Thanks! ;)


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 10 years ago from Northern California

I've forgotten all about the different kinds of adjectives and I had to click just to remember what the heck they were :P


Robin profile image

Robin 10 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Davinne. In the beginning I didn't intend to create so many grammar hubs; it has just happened. I keep getting more requests; it's hard to keep up. Thanks for reading!;)


Davinne profile image

Davinne 10 years ago

Kool your well educated as we could see. Thanx for sharing yourself with us

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