In this  English lesson, you will learn some things about the comparison of adjectives. As some of you may already know, there are 3 forms of adjectives: positive, comparative, and superlative form.

how to compare adjectives

Imagine a staircase. In the bottom, on the first step, there is the positive form of the adjective. Positive form is the basic form of an adjective, for example short. Now, one step above is the comparative form, for example shorter. And at the top of the staircase is the superlative form, the highest step, for example shortest.

English Grammar, Adjectives

There are two types of comparison: regular comparison and irregular comparison. First, I will focus on regular comparison and discuss it in details.

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Regular comparison


  • Short adjectives end in -er and -est.

short – shorter – shortest

  • Long adjectives have more and most.

amazingmore amazing – most amazing


There are some spelling issues you need to pay attention to when comparing adjectives:

  • There is no doubling of e: fine – finer

  • There is doubling of some consonants: hot – hottest

  • y changes to i: dirty – dirtier

  • Adjectives ending in -ng are pronounced with /g/ before -er/-est


There are three types of regular comparison, depending on the number of vowels in an adjective.

1.      Comparison of one-syllable adjectives

2.      Comparison of two-syllable adjectives

3.      Comparison of three-syllable adjectives


One-syllable adjectives


  • Most of one-syllable adjectives end in -er/-est.

This cat is the cutest.

  • Some one-syllable adjectives can either have -er/-est or more/most.

I can’t be prouder/more proud of you.

Such adjectives include: clear, fair, free, keen, proud, rude, safe, sure, true, wise.

  • But we do not normally use more with adjectives of concrete meaning such as big, cold, fast, or short.

  • We use more/most with real and with adjectives ending in ed.

Your comment made the story seem more real.

You couldn’t be more wrong.


Two-syllable adjectives

Many of these have more/most.

These are two-syllable adjectives:

  • Ending in ful: careful, helpful, hopeful, peaceful, useful, etc.

  • Ending in less: helpless, useless, etc.

  • Ending in ing: boring, pleasing, tiring, willing, amazing, etc.

  • Ending in ed: amused, annoyed, ashamed, confused, surprised, amazed, etc.

Some others: afraid, cautious, central, certain, complex, correct, eager, exact, famous, foolish, formal, frequent, mature, modern, normal, recent.


  • Some two-syllable adjectives can either have -er/-est or more/most.

Such adjectives include: able, clever, common, cruel, feeble, gentle, handsome, likely, narrow, pleasant, polite, quiet, secure, simple, sincere, stupid, tired.

  • Most two-syllable adjectives ending in y have -er/-est, although more/most is also possible.

Such adjectives include: angry, busy, crazy, dirty, easy, empty, friendly, funny, happy, healthy, heavy, hungry, lively, lovely, lonely, lucky, nasty, pretty, silly, thirsty, tidy, ugly, wealthy.


Here is a tip for you :)

If you are not sure how to form the comparative or superlative of a two-syllable adjective, it is usually safer to use more/most.


Three-syllable adjectives


  • Adjectives of three or more syllables have more/most.


  • But you can use un- before certain two-syllable adjectives with -er/-est added to them, e.g. unhappier, untidiest.

English Grammar, Irregular Comparison


Some special forms:

Here are some special forms which you need to study so that you don’t mix them and use the wrong form.

·        Farther/further and farthest/furthest express distance. We use them as adjectives and adverbs.

I can’t go any farther/further.

Further (but not farther) can mean ‘more’ or ‘additional’.

·        Elder and eldest mean the same as older and oldest. We use them mainly to talk about ages in a family.

Have you got an older/elder sister?

  • Elder and eldest go before the noun.


Latest and last mean different things!


  • Latest means ‘furthest ahead in time’ or ‘newest’.

What’s the latest time we can leave and still get there on time?

This bag is the latest fashion.

  • Last means ‘previous’ or ‘final’.

I went to London last week. (=the week before this one)

The last bus goes at midnight. (=the final bus of the day)

Nearest and next mean different things!


  • Nearest means the shortest distance away.

Where’s the nearest cinema? (=closest, least far)

  • Next means ‘following in a series’.

I’m going to visit you next week. (=the week after this one)


That’s it! If you still have problems while comparing adjectives, leave a comment below this post :)

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