Best or better?!
How can you be better than the best?
She has a bigger cup of coffee than me. I had the worst day today. The concert yesterday was better than the last one. He’s more famous than her. I have the best weekend planned! That’s the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen.
What do all of these phrases have in common? They all include either comparative or superlative adjectives. This is just a fancy way of saying they all compare things or people (comparative) or talk about something to the highest degree or quality (superlative). Below you’ll find more information on these two types of adjectives.
What’s the difference between comparative and superlative adjectives?
Comparative adjectives describe the difference between two items and superlative adjectives compare three or more nouns to the highest degree. For example, “My aunt cooks the best roast beef in our family.” This phrase demonstrates a superlative adjective because it compares my aunt’s cooking to the other members of my family. If I say, “My aunt cooks better than my dad” then I’m using a comparative adjective because there are only two subjects being compared (my uncle and my dad).
How do comparative adjectives work? If the adjective has one syllable (or sound), then you add “er” to the end of the adjective. For example, "small" becomes "smaller", "long" becomes "longer" and "cute" becomes "cuter" (just add the “r” if the adjective already ends in an “e”)
· Her mountain bike is much bigger than mine.
· They’re taking longer than they did last time to get ready for dinner.
· I have darker hair than you.
If you have an adjective with two or more syllables (or sounds) then you add the word “more” or “less” before the adjective. For example, "intelligent" becomes "more intelligent", "creative" becomes "less creative" and "enthusiastic" becomes "more enthusiastic."
· I’m less creative now than when I was a child.
· Jorge is more enthusiastic than Susana about going to Iceland.
· We’re more tired tonight than last night.
What if the adjective ends in “y”? If it ends in “y”, you change the “y” to “i” and add “er.” For example, "happy" becomes "happier", "angry" becomes "angrier", and "blurry" becomes "blurrier".
· This photo is blurrier than that photo.
· Our class yesterday was easier than last week’s class.
· My sister is lazier than me.
What if you want to express the extreme or highest degree of quality? You use a superlative adjective! Similarly, to comparatives, with superlatives you can change the adjective two different ways depending on how many syllables it has.
For one syllable adjectives you add “est.” For example, “fast” turns into “fastest”, “late” turns into “latest” and “small” turns into “smallest.” If the adjective ends with two consonants, just double the last consonant and add “est.” For instance, the word “big” is spelled “biggest” when it turns into a superlative adjective. For adjectives that end in “y” you change the “y” to “i” and add “est.” So, if you want to express to all your friends that you have the best jokes ever you would tell them you’re the “funniest” person in the world.
· I have the fastest scooter in the neighborhood.
· This is the best book I’ve ever read in my life!
· Penelope always gets to parties the latest out of our group of friends.
For two syllable adjectives you put the word “most” or “least” before the adjective. For instance, "complicated" becomes "least complicated" and "magnificent" becomes "most magnificent."
· This route to the airport looks the least complicated.
· That was one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve ever seen before.
· This is the most eloquent dress in the store!
As everyone knows, English has lots of rules and it also loves to break them. Below you’ll find a quick chart of some of the most common exceptions for comparative and superlative adjectives.
Here are some examples of irregular comparative and superlative adjectives in context:
· She plays soccer better than I do.
· His car is less expensive than mine.
· I biked really far last Wednesday, but I biked even farther today.
· Yesterday was the best day I’ve had in a long time.
· My hair is worse than his hair today!