Identifying and using the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives


Comparative/superlative adjectives with examples.
Image: Comparative/superlative adjectives

Language - adjectives rules for forming comparative and superlative adjectives

1. Most adjectives of one syllable form the comparative by adding 'er' and the superlative by adding 'est'.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form
fast faster fastest
sweet sweeter sweetest
bold bolder


2. When an adjective ends in 'e', add 'r' for the comparative and 'st' for the superlative forms of the adjective.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form
simple simpler simplest
fine finer finest
able abler ablest

3. When a one syllable word ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant, add the consonant and 'er' for the comparative form and the consonant and 'est' for the superlative form.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form
big bigger biggest
fat fatter fattest
mad madder maddest
hot hotter hottest

4. When the adjective ends in a 'y' and is preceded by a consonant, change the 'y' into 'i' before adding 'er' for the comparative and 'est' for the superlative form of the adjective.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form
busy busier busiest
happy happier happiest
noisy noisier noisiest
pretty prettier prettiest
wealthy wealthier wealthiest

5. When the adjective has two or more syllables, the comparative is formed by using the adverbs 'more' or 'less', and the superlative is formed by using the adverbs 'most' or 'least'.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form

more courageous

less courageous

the most courageous

the least courageous


more beautiful

less beautiful

the most beautiful

the least beautiful


more difficult

less difficult

the most difficult

the least difficult


helpful more

less helpful

the most helpful

the least helpful

6. Some adjectives are compared irregularly. This happens when their comparative and superlative forms are different from the original adjective.

For example:

Adjective Comparative form Superlative form
good better best
far further furthest
little less least

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: notebook thick and thin descriptions

Ask students questions about the topic to identify their prior knowledge. (What are comparative and superlative adjectives? Also ask questions which explore their understanding of adjectives and their purpose in texts.) Use the Notebook Thick and Thin descriptions. Have students compete in small groups to complete the 'thickest' description for each page. Springboard from this activity to write or find the 'thinnest' of stories and then elaborate them into the 'thickest'. The thinnest stories may be the students' own previous work.

Activity 2: Guess which one

Take the students into the library / computer lab / garden and get them to identify three objects of the same kind, e.g. books, computers/ laptops, pencils, desks, shrubs or trees, seats. Put students in groups and get each group to differentiate between the objects. Each group must write at least four sentences that compare the objects they have chosen. Get each group to share their conclusions with the rest of the class who raise their hands if they agree with the comparative judgment made by the group. This gives the group feedback on the accuracy of their comparisons.

Activity 3: use superlative and comparatives with peers

Reinforce comparative and superlative adjectives by having the students in the class compare themselves. Organise the students into groups of four and get them to spend a couple of minutes each telling the rest of their group about themselves. They are then to make as many true sentences as they can to compare each other. They can base their comparisons on:

  • how big their families are
  • how many after school activities they engage with
  • how many books they have borrowed this term/ year
  • how many times have they played on the computer this week
  • how much television they watch
  • what time they arrive at school
  • how big their school bag is
  • how close they live to the local shops.

At the end of the time allocated for the activity, get some of the students to read out their sentences.

Activity 4: magazine cut out

Pairs and groups of students find and cut out pictures of different objects, animals or people from magazines. Students are to make up two sentences each for the comparative and superlative degree by contrasting and comparing the objects in the pairs of pictures. Students also need to identify the form of the comparison (comparative or superlative) used in the sentence. Students are to work individually and within a set time limit.

The teacher can also source as many pictures as they choose, making the pictures relevant to topics being taught in class across Key Learning Areas.

Activity 5: adjective game on a board

Use a 'Snakes and Ladders' game board or other produced one or a teacher/student made board (printed and laminated). Use a dice and game pieces.

Print and laminate the adjective cards - the ones below. Each card has one adjective. The student must express a superlative or comparative adjective in order to take a turn in the game. Students need to be careful that some of these are irregular.

Adjective cards (PDF 59.07KB)


Australian curriculum

ACELA1508: Understand how noun groups/phrases and adjective groups/phrases can be expanded in a variety of ways to provide a fuller description of the person, place, thing or idea.

NSW syllabus

EN3-6B: Uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media.

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