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Superlative Adjectives

What is an example of a superlative adjective? How do you use superlative adjectives? What is the difference between comparative and superlative adjectives?

Degrees of Adjectives – Superlative

1) An adjective is a word or set of words that modifies (i.e. describes) a noun or pronoun. Adjectives may come before or after the word they modify.

This is a cute cat. This cat is cute.

2) Most adjectives can show degree of quality or quantity by forming two degrees of comparison: the comparative degree and the superlative degree. These degrees are formed from the positive degree, which is the usual form of adjectives.

This is a tall building.
This building is taller than that one.
This is the tallest building.

Superlative adjectives are used to describe an object which is at the upper or lower limit of a quality (the tallest, the smallest etc.). They are used in sentences where a subject is compared to a group of objects. When forming the superlative degree follow the pattern noun/pronoun (subject) + verb + the + superlative adjective + noun/pronoun (object).

My room is the largest one in the house.

The group that is being compared with can be omitted if it is clear from the context that something is at the upper or lower limit of a quality

She is the prettiest (girl in the office.)

Superlative adjectives with one syllable are normally formed by adding -est to the adjective.

smart – the smartest

If an adjective has a consonant + single vowel + consonant spelling, the final consonant must be doubled before adding -est.

big – the biggest

Adjectives ending in consonant + -y change -y to -i and add -est.

dry – the driest
Adjectives with two syllables can form the superlative either by adding -est or by preceding the adjective with the most.

happy – the happiest

tangled – the most tangled

In many cases, both forms are used, although one usage will be more common than the other. If you are not sure whether a two-syllable adjective can take a superlative ending, use the most instead.

Adjectives with three or more syllables form the superlative by preceding the adjective with the most.

beautiful – the most beautiful

Some adjectives do not follow any of the rules explained earlier. They are irregular. Here are the most common irregular adjectives.

the best
the worst
the farthest/furthest
the least
the most

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