Grammar: Comparatives & Superlatives (Exercises)

English Level: High-Beginner, Intermediate

Language Focus: Changing adjectives to comparative and superlative form

Worksheet Download: comparative-superlative-worksheet-esl.docx (scroll down to study the exercises online)

Jump to: Comparatives, SuperlativesExercises


Review: Making Sentences in Comparative Form

We put an adjective (‘big’) into a comparative form (‘bigger’) when we are comparing two things. For example, here are two boys.

Comparatives: Who is taller?

Let’s say the boy on the left is Ian and the boy on right is Peter. We can say,

  • Ian is taller than Peter.
  • Peter is more excited than Ian.

To make comparative sentences like this, we make a regular sentence and change the adjective to a comparative form.

Ian is tall. > Ian is taller.

We add ‘than‘ after the adjective when we want to say what we are comparing the subject (‘Ian’) to.

Ian is taller than Peter.

Sometimes we don’t add ‘than’ because we don’t need to when it is already clear who/what we are comparing.

Peter is young.

Peter is younger…. than who? Ian of course!

Comparatives: Comparing Apples to Apples

Always compare two similar things. For example, [Food-A] is [comparative adjective] than [Food-B].

[Bananas] are [healthier] than [cookies]. (Correct)

This sentence is wrong:

[Peter’s hair] is lighter than [Ian]. (Wrong)

How can we compare hair to a person? These are different things that can’t really be compared. We need to compare [hair] to [hair]. To fix this, we can write:

  • [Peter’s hair] is lighter than [Ian’s hair]. (Correct)
  • [Peter’s hair] is lighter than [Ian’s]. (Correct – If you write “Ian’s” (a possessive), it means the hair of Ian)
  • [Peter’s hair] is lighter. (Correct)

Now let’s look at how we change adjectives into comparative adjectives now.

Rule #1: Add ‘er’ to End of One-Syllable Adjectives

Add ~er to short words that are only one syllable. (A syllable is how many sounds a word is. Usually this is how many times you open your mouth when you say a word; for example, when you say ‘big’, you only open your mouth once so it is one syllable. However, when you say the word ‘beautiful’, you open your mouth three times. This means it is three syllables.)

E.g.: John is taller than Peter. ( tall + er = taller)

Here are some common one-syllable adjectives:

  • tall > taller
  • cheap > cheaper
  • dark > darker
  • smart > smarter

Note: If the last two letters of the adjective are a vowel (a/e/i/o/u) followed by a consonant (d/g/m/p/t, etc), repeat the last consonant to make the comparative form.

  • mad > madder
  • big > bigger
  • slim > slimmer
  • hip > hipper
  • fat > fatter
  • wet > wetter

Rule #2: Add ‘ier’ to Two-Syllable Adjectives that end in ‘Y’

If the adjective has two syllables (‘ugly = ug-ly’) then drop the ‘y’ at the end, add an ‘i’, and then ‘er’.

E.g. That house is uglier than my house.

  • ugly > uglier
  • easy > easier
  • happy > happier
  • lucky > luckier
  • windy > windier

Rule #3: Add ‘more’ to Adjectives Longer than Three Syllables

When we have longer adjectives (two syllables that don’t end in ‘y’, or any adjective with three syllables or more), we usually add ‘more‘ before the word and  we do not change the adjective.

For example, the adjective beautiful has three syllables (beau-ti-ful). So we’d say,

E.g. This painting is more beautiful than that painting.

Here are some other common longer adjectives in comparative form.

  • beautiful > more beautiful
  • expensive > more expensive
  • delicious > more delicious
  • interested > more interested
  • difficult > more difficult

Making Comparatives: Exceptions

These adjectives have irregular comparative forms.

  • good > better
  • bad > worse
  • well > better
  • far > farther

E.g. Your day was worse than mine.


That’s it. Let’s try some practice exercises.

Practice Exercises: Comparative Adjectives

  1. My brother is (young) than me.
  2. Today the streets are (crowded) than yesterday.
  3. I think math is (difficult) than English.
  4. Mr. Green is a (wealthy) man than I am.
  5. This map is (complicated).
  6. Jose needs a (good) job.

  

 

  1. Sharks are (scary) than bears.
  2. She was (nice) to me today. Yesterday, she was (rude).
  3. Your hair is (wet) than mine because you were in the rain (long).
  4. You did (well) on the test this week. Good work.
  5. This photograph is (colorful) but it’s (expensive).
  6. I took a  (big) piece of cake because I’m (hungry) than you.

  

Review: Making Sentences in Superlative Form

We use a superlative form to mean that something is #1. It is the best; it is the top.

Superlatives are #1!

For example,

  • John was the fastest in the race. 
  • Russia is the biggest country.
  • The diamond ring was the most expensive ring in the shop.

A sentence with a superlative (like ‘Russia is the biggest country‘) is a statement that means the subject is the #1 of all things in that category. It is not a comparison between two things.

As you can see, we usually add ‘the‘ before the adjective in superlative form: ‘the fastest / the biggest / the most expensive’.

Also, we do not use ‘than’ with superlatives.

To change an adjective to its superlative adjective form, the rules are similar to comparatives.

Rule #1: Add ‘est’ to End to One-Syllable Adjectives

Add ~est to short words that are only one syllable.

E.g.: Kate is the fastest. ( fast + est = fastest)

Here are some common one-syllable adjectives:

  • tall > tallest
  • cheap > cheapest
  • dark > darkest
  • smart > smartest

Note: If the last two letters of the adjective are a vowel (a/e/i/o/u) followed by a consonant (d/g/m/p/t, etc), repeat the last consonant to make the comparative form.

  • mad > maddest
  • big > biggest
  • slim > slimmest
  • hip > hippest
  • fat > fattest
  • wet > wettest

Rule #2: Add ‘iest’ to Two-Syllable Adjectives that end in ‘Y’

If the adjective has two syllables (‘ugly = ug-ly’) then drop the ‘y’ at the end, add an ‘i’, and then ‘est’.

E.g. That house is the ugliest on the street.

  • ugly > ugliest
  • easy > easiest
  • happy > happiest
  • lucky > luckiest
  • windy > windiest

Rule #3: Add ‘the’ + ‘most’ to Adjectives Longer than Three Syllables

When we have longer adjectives (two syllables that don’t end in ‘y’ or adjectives with three syllables or more), we usually add ‘most‘ before the word and  we do not change the adjective.

For example, the adjective beautiful has three syllables (beau-ti-ful). So we’d say,

E.g. This painting is the most beautiful in the gallery.

Here are some other common longer adjectives in comparative form.

  • beautiful > the most beautiful
  • expensive > the most expensive
  • delicious > the most delicious
  • interested > the most interested
  • difficult > the most difficult

Making Superlatives: Irregular Adjectives

These adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.

  • good > better > best
  • bad > worse > worst
  • well > better > worst
  • far > farther > farthest

E.g. Today was the best day of my life.

Let’s try some exercises.

Practice Exercises: Superlative Adjectives

Add a superlative form. Don’t forget to add ‘the’.

  1. She is (famous) singer in Korea.
  2. (fast) runner won a prize.
  3. The team played (good) game of their season.
  4. She always calls me at (busy) time of the day.
  5. This part is (deep) in the ocean.
  6. The last question was (difficult) on the test.

  

  1. That was (bad) holiday of my life.
  2. My steak was (juicy) of them all.
  3. The living room has (bright) lights in the house.
  4. Dr. Walton is (respected) surgeon in this hospital.
  5. We wrapped (delicate) items in a blanket.
  6. Jane exercises every day. She is (fit) person I know.

  

Practice Exercises: Comparative or Superlative?

Change the adjective to a comparative or a superlative form. Remember that we use a comparative when comparing two things (the subject of the sentence with another thing). Sentences with comparatives often contain [than] and then another noun.

Give it a try. Remember to add ‘the’ for superlatives.

  1. John’s hair is (light) than Alan’s.
  2. Sometimes staying home is (enjoyable) than going out.
  3. That was (funny) joke I have ever heard.
  4. Canada is (big) than China but (small) than Russia, which is the (large) country in the world.
  5. Ron ordered (cheap) bottle of wine for his date.
  6. Usually, February is (cold) month of the year in North America.

  

 

  1. The president was staying in (luxurious) hotel in the city.
  2. Quitting my job was (difficult) decision I have made in my life.
  3. Sarah’s life was (exciting) when she was in university.
  4. Today is cold. Yesterday was (warm).
  5. John isn’t happy. He wants to be (happy) and (satisfied) in life.
  6. The grizzly bear is (dangerous) animal in Canada.

  

  • Peter thinks that Sydney is (good) city to live in. In his opinion, Sydney is (good) than Melbourne because it is (close) to beaches. Also, he thinks the views from Sydney are (beautiful).
  • Jane, his friend, doesn’t agree. She thinks life in Sydney is (bad) than life in Melbourne. Firstly, Sydney is  (expensive) than Melbourne. Also, she thinks the Melbourne is (relaxed) and the buildings are (beautiful).

  

 

  • There are many students in Mr. Barton’s English class. One student, Alan, is (lazy). He never does his homework so he has (bad) grades. He always looks sleepy. He should go to bed (early).
  • Another student, Pedro, is much (serious) than Alan. In fact, Pedro has  (high) grades in the class. There are thirty students in total in the class. This is (big) class Mr. Barton has ever taught.

  

Practice Exercises: Comparatives or Superlatives in Questions

  1. What country is (good) to live in? Why?
  2. What is (scary) movie you have seen?
  3. Is it (good) to be smart and ugly or unintelligent and good-looking?
  4. What is (bad) present you have ever gotten?
  5. What is (dangerous) job in the world?
  6. Which is (bad): falling in love with someone and then having your heart broken, or never having met that person?

  

 

  1. Who is (interesting) person you know?
  2. Which is (bad) for your health: alcohol or marijuana?
  3. What is (embarrassing) thing you have done recently?
  4. Is it better to date someone who is (old) or (young) you?
  5. What has been  (important) invention in history?
  6. What is (disgusting) thing you have ever eaten?

  

 

I hope these exercises and my explanations have helped you understand comparative and superlative adjective forms. If you find a mistake or have a question, please leave a comment below.

– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com (copyright)

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