Irregular Comparison of Adjectives
The English grammatical morphemes, particularly in the formation of comparative adjectives, can be tricky for English language learners due to the irregularity of the rules. When learners do not explore the irregular comparison of adjectives, they might end up making mistakes in their writing and speaking.
On the bright side, there are only a few irregular comparisons of adjectives that learners need to remember. The most common ones are good, bad, far, and little. In this blog, we will discuss the irregular comparison of these adjectives, use them in sentences, study their meaning, and also look at some examples.
What are Irregular Adjectives?
Irregular adjectives are words that don’t follow the regular convention of forming comparative and superlative forms. In regular adjectives, most monosyllabic and two-syllable adjectives add the suffix “-er.” Long adjectives carry the determiner “more” before them as in “more spacious,” “more entertaining,” and “more curious.”
For the superlative adjectives, most monosyllabic and two-syllable words add the suffix “-est” on its end. Moreover, long adjectives use the determiner “most” to form the superlative form. Examples are “most expensive,” “most beautiful,” and “most delicious.”
When learners encounter irregular adjectives, they might make the mistake of converting them following the rules for regular adjectives. For instance, a beginner might conjugate “good” into “gooder,” and “goodest.” However, since irregular adjectives are special cases, they don’t follow the same rules.
Irregular Adjectives List
There are only a few irregular adjectives making it easier for learners to remember them. Here is a list of the most common irregular adjectives:
|bad / sick / evil||worse||worst|
|good / well||better||best|
|far||farther (physical distance)||farthest (physical distance)|
|far||further (figurative distance)||furthest (figurative distance)|
Examples of Irregular Comparison of Adjectives in Sentences
|My pet dog only ate a little today.||My pet dog ate less food than it did yesterday.||My pet dog consumed food the least today.|
|Lana feels bad for skipping his birthday party.||Lana felt worse after knowing he had looked for her.||Lana felt the worst when her friends told her he cried.|
|Juno has a fever and is sick today.||Juno vomited and is feeling worse than yesterday.||Body aches and difficulty in breathing made Juno feel the worst today.|
|Ralph is evil for thinking of pranking his friend.||Leo is worse than Ralph because he executed the prank.||Quentin is the worst of them all for recording it and posting the video online.|
|I feel good today.||I feel better today.||I feel the best today.|
|Shaina looks well today.||Shaina looks better when she smiles.||Shaina looks the best when she’s happy.|
|Ana owns twelve books. She has many books.||Tristan has twenty books. He owns more books than Ana.||Valerie owns a library of books. She has the most books among the three.|
|Your house is far.||The mall is farther from here than your house.||The amusement park is the farthest. It’s two hours away.|
|Jerry can’t extend his generosity that far.||Jerry further extended his generosity by giving Tom a one-week allowance.||After that, the furthest Jerry can help Tom is by giving him pieces of advice.|
|Tote bags are in this season.||The Earth’s inner core mostly contains iron.||The royal residence is in the innermost part of the complex.|
|He was out to buy fruits.||Someone destroyed the outer layer of the box.||The corona is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere|
Adjectives with Different Meanings
Another challenge irregular adjectives pose is some irregular adjectives have different meanings. There are four sets of irregular adjectives in question regarding this.
1. Farther vs Further
“Farther” and “further” pertains to the distance of something. Hence, some learners use them interchangeably. However, those words differ in meaning. “Farther” is used for physical distance and “further” is appropriate for figurative distance.
(1) If you take the left turn, you will be farther away from your destination.
(2) I fell further away from him after knowing he lied to me.
The first sentence speaks of the distance from one place to another. Thus, “farther” is used. In the second sentence, the statement speaks of emotional distance that cannot be measured. Hence, “further” is appropriate for this reason.
2. Bad – Worse – Worst
The positive adjective “bad” could mean three things. It describes an action that is not agreeable (e.g., stealing is bad). Moreover, it could mean feeling unwell, as in “I feel bad because of a fever.” Lastly, it describes something of poor quality. For example, “He made a bad design for my living room.” As such, it follows that its comparative and superlative degrees could mean any of the three above.
3. Good vs Well
The word “good” generally functions as an adjective. However, “well” functions as both an adjective and an adverb. This is where the confusion stems. To know whether you are using “well” as an adjective, it’s important to examine the verb that precedes it.
(1) “Well” as an adjective: He feels well today after his surgery. → He is well today after his surgery.
(2) “Well” as an adverb: He performed well in his exams.
The verb (feels) in the first sentence functions as a stative verb. It shows the state of being of a subject. That’s why when it was replaced by the be-verb “is,” the meaning of the sentence didn’t change. Therefore, “well” is an adjective in the first sentence.
In contrast, the verb (performed) in the second sentence is a dynamic verb. As such, it shows an action or process instead of a state of being. “Well” modifies how the subject performed. Hence, it’s an adverb in this example.
4. In as an Adjective
“In” is one of the English words that take different functions. As an adjective, it means something or someone that is trendy, popular, or famous.
- Cropped cardigans are in this time. I need to buy one.
- Taylor’s new album is in with Gen Z and millennials.
- Mom’s jeans are in and trendy today.
Unlike “bad,” the comparative and superlative forms of “in” does not carry a positive meaning. “Inner” and “innermost” refers to surfaces or position of something. Those words don’t refer to trends.
Irregular Comparison of Adjectives Exercises with Answers
Choose which among the irregular adjectives in the box below would complete the sentences.
less, least, worse, worst, better, best, more, most, farther, furthest
- Alice is ____________ than I am at playing piano.
- Going to the mall is the _____________ thing on my mind right now.
- Tiramisu is my ______________ craved dessert.
- You spend _________________ in the grocery when you make a list and stick to it.
- Cheating is the _______________ thing you can do to your partner.
- Rian can walk two kilometers ________________ than Zack.
- He had _______________ money today than he had last month.
- Ceviche is my __________________ favorite food.
- I don’t know which is __________: forgetting an important day or remembering only at the last minute.
- Johannes is the _______________ at singing in our friend group.
- Alice is better than I am at playing piano.
- Going to the mall is the furthest thing on my mind right now.
- Tiramisu is my most craved dessert.
- You spend less in the grocery when you make a list and stick to it.
- Cheating is the worst thing you can do to your partner.
- Rian can walk two kilometers farther than Zack.
- He had more money today than he had last month.
- Ceviche is my least favorite food.
- I don’t know which is worse: forgetting an important day or remembering only at the last minute.
- Johannes is the best at singing in our friend group.
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
Common Mistakes Made by English Learners
|Common Mistake||Why it Happens||Correction and Best Practices||Examples|
|Using the superlative degree to compare two things||Remember this analogy to easily remember the difference between the degrees of adjectives:|
Positive: one noun
Comparative: two nouns
Superlative: three or more nouns
|Remember this analogy to easily remember the difference of the degrees of adjectives:|
Positive: one noun
Comparative: two nouns
Superlative: three or more nouns
|Incorrect: Your shirt is the best than mine.|
Correct: Your shirt is better than mine.
Use the comparative degree since there are two things being compared.
Incorrect: Your shirt is better among the rest.
Correct: Your shirt is the best among the rest.
Since the subject’s shirt is being compared to a population, it is proper to use a superlative adjective.
|Converting irregular adjectives using the regular adjective rules||Following the English grammar rules, combining “most” or “least” and an already conjugated superlative adjective is wrong.|
Some learners use do this when speaking informal English.
|Only use the determiner “most” when the adjective is not irregular and follows the other convention of converting regular adjectives.||Incorrect: He is the most humblest person I know.|
Correct: He is the humblest person I know.
Incorrect: She is the most prettiest girl in the world.
Correct: She is the prettiest girl in the world.
Irregular Comparison of Adjectives Frequently Asked Questions
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