English grammar: Superlatives

When we want to compare two things in English, we use a comparative form. (See our English grammar page on comparatives for explanations and examples.)

But we can also use a superlative form of an adjective to differentiate one thing or person from others.

For example, to talk about the ages of three people:

Tony is 33, Susanna is 32, Deborah is 30.

Susanna is older than Deborah, but Tony is the oldest of all three.
Susanna is younger than Tony, but Deborah is the youngest of all three.

Look at the table below to see how we form comparative and superlative forms of three different types of adjective:

superlatives

One-syllable adjectives

These are short adjectives like nice, hot, cheap, cold, etc.

Adjectives ending with -y

These are adjectives such as lovely, pretty, funny, etc. When an adjective ends with -y, the comparative form replaces the -y with -ier, and the superlative form replaces it with -iest.)

Two or more syllable adjectives

These are adjectives with two or more syllables, such as boring (bor – ing), difficult (di – ffi – cult).

Irregular adjectives

Be careful with these adjectives:

good (comparative – better; superlative – the best)
bad (comparative – worse; superlative – the worst)
far (comparative – further; superlative – the furthest)

Practice

Look at the list of holiday activities, then choose the best answer in the quiz.

square_2258988806Playing board games (like monopoly, scrabble, chess, etc)
Advantage: it doesn't cost anything
Disadvantage: a game can take hours!


square_9733309303Going windsurfing
Advantage: it's fun
Disadvantage: it's expensive (you need a teacher and equipment) and it's difficult


– Going for a drive (getting in the car and driving around)
– Going for a meal in a restaurant
– Going for a walk in the countryside
– Sunbathing (lying in the sun on the beach to get a suntan)
– Visiting a museum
– Writing holiday postcards

A family is having a holiday in England. It starts to rain…

1. Playing a game of Monopoly is __ activity they can do together.
2. Sunbathing is __ activity they can do if it rains!

It's cold outside…

3. Going for a meal in a restaurant is __ activity when it's cold outside.
4. Visiting a museum is __ activity.
5. Going for a drive is __ activity when it's cold but when you don't want to stay inside.

If the weather is beautiful…

6. Windsurfing is __ activity.
7. But it's also __
8. Writing holiday postcards is __ activity to do when it's sunny.
9. Sunbathing is __ activity when it's hot.
10. Going for a walk is __ activity when it's hot.

Photo credits
Monopoly
Windsurfing


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