Posted by: episystechpubs | June 15, 2015

Editor’s Corner: It’s a Superlative Day!

Good morning, all!

I’ve had my breakfast, so let’s jump right in to a riveting discussion about comparatives and superlatives.

In English, we form comparatives (adjectives that compare two things) in a few different ways depending on things like the number of syllables the adjective has and what letter the adjective ends with.

We form superlatives (adjectives that express the highest degree) using criteria that is similar, but just different enough to be tricky. The table below lays out the rules pretty simply and should reassure you that, instinctively, you know what you’re doing.

Basic form Comparative (rule) Superlative (rule)
One syllable tall taller(add –er) the tallest(add the and –est)
One syllable (ends in vowel) nice nicer(add –r) the nicest(add the and –st)
One syllable
wet wetter(double the consonant and add –er) the wettest(double the consonant; add the and –est)
Two syllables (ends in –y) crazy Crazier (delete –y and add –ier) the craziest(delete –y; add the and –iest)
Two syllables peaceful more peaceful(add more) the most peaceful(add most)
More than two syllables beautiful more beautiful(add more) the most beautiful(add the and most)

Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, I have to remind you about the exceptions, or what we fondly call “irregular words.”

Basic form Comparative Superlative
good better the best
bad worse the worst
little less the least

For native English speakers, most of this is instinctive because you’ve heard it all your life. English language learners often have a hard time, though, because English includes so many exceptions and irregularities.

And speaking of irregular things, I know where I’m going on my next vacation:

I hope your Monday is as good as a Friday.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Technical Editor, Senior | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

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