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Adjectives and Adverbs: Comparative and Superlative Forms

Adjectives and adverbs have forms called comparative and superlative that are used for comparisons. Use the comparative form when comparing two items, people, places, or ideas. Use the superlative when comparing more than two.

For short adjectives (with one syllable or two syllables ending in -y or -le) and one-syllable adverbs, add the ending -er for the comparative and -est for the superlative. (Change -y to -i if the -y is preceded by a consonant: icy, icier, iciest.) Generally the is used before the superlative form.

Word Comparative Superlative
short shorter shortest
pretty prettier prettiest
simple simpler simplest
fast faster fastest

With longer adjectives and with adverbs ending in -ly, add more and most.  Note:  less and least are used with adjectives of any length (such as bright, less bright, least bright).

Word Comparative Superlative
intelligent more intelligent most intelligent
carefully more carefully most carefully
dangerous less dangerous least dangerous
If you cannot decide whether to use an -er/-est form or more/most, consult a dictionary. If there is an -er/-est form, the dictionary will say so.

Note:  Do not use the -er form with more or the -est form with most.

Faulty   The first poem was more better than the second.
Revised   The first poem was better than the second.

Irregular Forms

The following are irregular comparative and superlative forms.

Word Comparative Superlative
good better best
bad worse worst
much/many more most
well better best
badly worse worst

Using than with Comparative Forms

To compare two people, places, objects, or ideas, use the comparative form with the word than. If you use a comparative form in your sentence, you need than to let your reader know what you are comparing with what.
Faulty   This course of action is more efficient.
Revised   This course of action is more efficient than the previous one.
Comparative forms are also used without than in an idiomatic way.
Examples   The harder he tries, the more satisfied he feels.
The more, the merrier.
See also
Correct Forms
Proper Use
After Linking Verbs
Compound Adjectives
Positioning of Adverbs
Order of Adjectives
Double Negatives
Faulty or Incomplete Comparisons