Posted by: Jack Henry | September 5, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Comparatives and Superlatives

Good morning! Today, the topic is comparatives and superlatives. Let’s start with comparatives since they sound like what they are and will make superlatives easier to digest. In grammar, a comparative is a word that is used to compare two things. For example, the word bigger is a comparative in the following sentence:

  • A condor is bigger than a hummingbird.

In contrast, a superlative is used to compare more than two things. For example, the word largest is a superlative in the following sentence:

  • The royal albatross is the largest flying bird alive today.

A common mistake that people make is to use a superlative when they should use a comparative, as in this sentence:

  • Gina is the sweetest of my two nieces. (incorrect)

Since there are only two nieces, the sentence should be written like this:

  • Gina is the sweeter of my two nieces.

Which brings me to my second point. If you are working with a one- or two-syllable word, like sweet, you add -er to make the comparative, and you add -est to make the superlative:

  • sweet, sweeter, sweetest

However, when you’re working with words that are three or more syllables, the rule changes. In that case you use the word more for the comparative and you use the word most for the superlative:

  • incredible, more incredible, most incredible

And then, of course, there are the irregulars. There are always irregulars in English. Here are some common irregulars:

  • bad, worse, worst
  • good, better, best
  • many, more, most
  • little, less, least

As with the regular comparatives and superlatives, people often make the mistake of using the superlative when they should use the comparative:

  • James is the best soccer player of the two of them. (incorrect)

Since we’re only comparing two soccer players, James is the better soccer player.

That’s it for today. Make it a good one. 😊

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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