Have you ever wanted to describe something in a way that would be truly impressive and unique? Superlative adjectives allow us to do just that.
Adjectives are descriptive words used to modify nouns and pronouns. Comparisons using adjectives can help make descriptions more vivid and engaging. When we need to compare things even further, superlative adjectives come into play.
Superlative adjectives add emphasis to an already comparative description. Knowing when and how to use them correctly can make your writing stand out. In this article, we’ll look at the meaning of superlative adjectives, their conjugation, and how to use them for maximum impact.
What are superlative adjectives?
There are three degrees of comparison of adjectives. Superlative adjectives compare three or more groups, things, places, or people. It shows which among the subjects compared is the most or least of a certain quality.
For example, if you compare three skyscrapers in the world: Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, and Lotte World Tower. You could express the superlative comparison as: “Burj Khalifa is the highest skyscraper in the world.”
Here are five sentences using superlative adjectives:
1. The Hells Canyon is the deepest in the United States.
2. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.
3. The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest on Earth.
4. The Great Barrier Reef is the most extensive coral reef system.
5. Antarctica is the coldest continent on our planet.
Positive Adjective vs. Comparative Adjective vs Superlative Adjective
The three degrees of comparison usually get confused by learners. Some use the superlative degree to compare two things. To avoid this mistake, refer to the table below defining the differences among the three degrees of comparison.
|Point of Comparison||Positive||Comparative||Superlative|
|Definition||Uses the suffix “-er,” the determiner “more” and the preposition “than.”||Compares two things or people in terms of a certain quality.||Compares three or more nouns. It shows which among the subjects being compared is the most or least of a certain quality.|
|Formation||Doesn’t have any suffixes. It stands on its own.||– A truckload of steel is the heaviest among the rest.|
– Among Jessy, Kat, and Pola, Pola is the most intelligent. She scored 93/100.
– I feel the worst this Wednesday. I had to go to the clinic.
|Uses the suffix “-est,” and the determiner “most.”|
|Examples||– The small box of nails is heavy.|
– Jessy is intelligent. She scored 89/100 on the exam.
– I felt sick on Monday because of a cold.
|– A cart full of stones is heavier than a small box of nails.|
– Kat is more intelligent than Jessy. She scored 91/100.
– I felt worse on Tuesday than on Monday because of my body pain.
|– A truckload of steel is the heaviest among the rest.|
– Among Jessy, Kat and Pola, Pola is the most intelligent. She scored 93/100.
– I feel the worst this Wednesday. I had to go to the clinic.
Superlative Adjective Rules
As observed in the examples above, superlative adjectives use the suffix “-est” or the word “most” to compare three or more things.
Here are some rules to remember when using superlative adjectives:
1. For one-syllable adjectives, add -est at the end of the word.
2. For two-syllable adjectives ending in -y, replace -y with -iest.
Regular adjectives follow the convention of converting positive adjectives into their superlative form. Study the table below for the rules for forming regular superlative adjectives.
|The suffix “-est” is added to most monosyllabic or one-syllable adjectives.||mean – meanest; high – highest; quick – quickest; clean – cleanest; rich – richest; light – lightest; young – youngest; smart – smartest; loud – loudest; soft – softest|
|If the adjective ends in “y,” convert the final letter into “i” before adding “-est.”||dry – driest; sly – sliest; early – earliest; heavy – heaviest; guilty – guiltiest; angry – angriest; crazy – craziest; dirty – dirtiest; bulky – bulkiest; wealthy – wealthiest|
|If a one-syllable adjective follows the spelling consonant-vowel-consonant, double the last letter before adding “-est.”||big – biggest; hot – hottest; sad saddest; mad – maddest; red – reddest; fit – fittest; thin -thinnest; dim -dimmest; flat – flattest|
|Add “-est” at the end of two-syllable adjectives ending in “er,” “le,” and “ow.”||clever – cleverest; tender – tenderest; bitter – bitterest; gentle – gentlest; idle – idlest; low – lowest; slow – slowest; narrow – narrowest|
|If the adjective ends with “e,” just add “-st.”||cute – cutest; vile – vilest; safe – safest; pale – palest; pure – purest; strange – strangest; rude – rudest; lame – lamest|
|Other adjectives with two or more syllables uses the determiner “most” or “least” before it.||least natural; most annoying; least expensive; least heartbreaking; most careless; most recent; most comprehensive; least beneficial; most accessible; most aloof|
Regular Superlative Adjectives Used in Sentences
1. The Great Wall of China is the longest human-made structure in the world.
2. Leaving Time is the most moving novel I’ve ever read.
3. Benny is the least annoying among all my classmates.
4. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world.
5. Peter is fifteen-year-old, Mike is ten, and Ken is six. Mike is the oldest of them all.
6. In 2022, Louis Vuitton was the most valuable luxury brand.
7. This year’s winter was the coldest in a decade.
8. If you’re looking for a great place to eat, try the most famous restaurant in town.
9. Quokka is the cutest animal in the world.
10. I was the angriest I had ever been when I heard the news about my friend.
11. This shop sells the flattest shoes I have ever seen.
12. November and December are the driest months of the year in Indonesia.
13. If you compare the internet speed of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, and Taiwan, Iceland has the fastest connection.
14. This insurance is the least beneficial for you.
15. Sherlock is the most intelligent detective I have ever seen in a movie.
In contrast with regular adjectives, irregular adjectives do not follow the convention of converting positive adjectives into their superlative form. Instead, they have their own unique comparative forms.
Here are common adjectives with irregular form superlative degree conversion:
|bad / sick / evil||worse||worst|
|far||farther (physical distance)||farthest (physical distance)|
|far||further (figurative distance)||furthest (figurative distance)|
Irregular Superlative Adjectives Used in Sentences
1. Persimmon is my least favorite fruit.
2. I think this restaurant has the worst service in town.
3. The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.
4. The Northern Lights are the most spectacular natural phenomenon I have ever seen.
5. She realized that 5 km was the farthest she could run.
6. Addressing the agricultural crisis is the furthest thing from the president’s mind.
7. As an introvert, it’s rare for him to share his innermost thoughts.
8. The core is the innermost layer of the earth. Meanwhile, the crust is its outermost layer.
Superlative Adjectives Exercises with Answers
Convert the adjectives inside the parentheses in their superlative form to complete the sentences below.
1. Talc is the (soft) mineral in the world.
2. My (bad) nightmare is to forget an important meeting.
3. This dress is the (fashionable) piece I own.
4. Layla felt the (happy) when she got accepted to her dream school.
5. Today, sorting my books is the (less) of my priority.
6. The Atacama is the (dry) desert on Earth.
7. Mr. Wales requested his financial advisor to give him the (comprehensive) insurance.
8. Gian is my (loud) friend. He speaks gleefully every time we’re talking.
9. The teacher (far) explained the most complex concept in the lesson.
10. Her heart felt the (heavy) when she heard the news about her grandmother.
1. Talc is the softest mineral in the world.
2. My worst nightmare is to forget an important meeting.
3. This dress is the most fashionable piece I own.
4. Layla felt the happiest when she got accepted to her dream school.
5. Today, sorting my books is the least of my priority.
6. The Atacama is the driest desert on Earth.
7. Mr. Wales requested his financial advisor to give him the most comprehensive insurance.
8. Gian is my loudest friend. He speaks gleefully every time we’re talking.
9. The teacher further explained the most complex concept in the lesson.
10. Her heart felt the heaviest when she heard the news about her grandmother.
Superlative Adjectives List
|most profitable||worthiest||longest||most believable||spiciest|
|bluest||most adorable||cruelest||boldest||most impatient|
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
Adjectives are just one chunk under the English parts of speech. Exploring adjectives, especially superlative adjectives, can help you understand how to use them in sentences and conversations.
Since it doesn’t follow the same rules as regular adjectives, irregular adjectives pose a challenge for English language learners. Hence, memorizing irregular adjectives and their superlative forms helps you avoid using them incorrectly.
Learners acquire knowledge best when their learning process involves application and evaluation. Therefore, it is essential to include exercises and activities in your learning process. This will help you to understand the concept better and also remember it for a longer time. Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand Irregular Comparison of Adjectives and Comparative Adjectives.
Common Mistakes Made by English Learners
|Common Mistake||Why it Happens||Correction and Best Practices||Examples|
|Using the superlative degree to compare two things||Learners sometimes compares two things using the superlative degree instead of the comparative.|
This stems from not knowing how many nouns are being considered in making a comparison.
|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 dirtiest than mine.|
Correct: Your shirt is dirtier than mine.
Use the comparative degree since there are two things being compared.
Incorrect: Your shirt is dirtier among the rest.
Correct: Your shirt is the dirtiest among everyone’s shirts in this room.
Since the subject’s shirt is being compared to a population, it is proper to use a superlative adjective.
|Non-standard formation of comparative adjectives||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.
Comparative Adjective Frequently Asked Questions
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