Degrees of Comparison
Adjectives can take on different forms when they’re being used to compare two or more things. Let’s take a look at this example on the board. We have the word “fast“. That is an adjective in its most basic form.
So, if we were going to compare two things to each other, we would use the adjective “faster”.
So, an example of this adjective right here, “fast“, would be saying:
“Look at that fast person.”
Now, if we were comparing two people, Jim and Steve, we would say:
“Jim is faster than Steve.”
You wouldn’t say, “Jim is fast than Steve.” You would say, “Jim is faster than Steve.” Because you’re comparing two people.
So, we’re going to call this form of the adjective the comparative form. And you can do this with other adjectives besides “fast“. You could use “tall“, and then “taller“. Or “pretty“, and then “prettier“.
So, we call this the comparative form and the comparative form is generally found by adding “er” to the adjective.
So, this is “fast” right here in its basic form, then we add “er” to it to make it “faster“, and it’s in its comparative form to compare two people or two objects. You could say:
“That car is faster than the other one.”
Now, let’s look at the word “fastest“. We changed “fast” into “fastest” by adding “est“. This is the superlative form of “fast“.
The superlative form is used when you’re comparing three or more objects or people. So, you could say:
“Jim is the fastest runner on his track team.”
Because there are many athletes on a track team, and he’s the fastest.
Or, you could say:
“This is the fastest car that this dealership sells.”
It’s used when you’re comparing three or more things. So, remember, that’s called the superlative form.
Now, let’s take a look at this played out in some sentences. So, this first sentence says:
“She is a kind person.”
“Kind” is the adjective here because it’s describing “person“.
Now, if we want to look the comparative form of “kind“, we would add “er” to it to get “kinder“.
So, when we’re comparing her to her sister, we would use “kinder“.
“She is kinder than her sister.”
“She is a kinder person than her sister.”
Then, this last sentence, we would say:
“She is the kindest person in her family.”
Because there are three or more people in her family, and she’s the most kind in all of her family, so we would say “kindest“, because it’s comparing three or more people.
Now, like I said, to get the comparative form, you add “er” to the adjective, and to get the superlative form, you add “est“.
Now, sometimes, adjectives are not always that easy. There are some words which we call irregular pronouns. Take the word “good“, for example. Like:
“He is a good piano player.”
Now, if you say that he is “gooder” than he used to be, in other words, he’s improved, you wouldn’t say he is “gooder” than he used to be. That doesn’t make sense. The next word would be “better“.
“He is better than he used to be.”
“He is a better piano player than John.”
Now, if you wanted to say, “He is the bestest player he’s ever been.” That doesn’t make sense either. You would say:
“He is the best player that he has ever been.”
“He is the best player out of all of his brothers.”
So, you see here that even in this comparative form and superlative form, even though this is kind of irregular, “er” still exists in the comparative form, like it does with the word “faster“. And “est” still exists in the superlative form, like it did in “fastest“.
Now, let’s look at one more kind of funny word.
We have the adjective “happy“. Now, if we want to change this to the comparative form, we can’t leave the “y“. We have to change the “y” to an “i“.
So, if we write like that, it does make sense. “Happier“.
And then the superlative form would be “happiest“. Because if you left this “i” right here as a “y“, that would be grammatically correct. It needs to have an “i” right here instead of a “y“.
So, the important thing to take from this section is that you have an adjective in its regular form, which then can be changed to the comparative form when comparing it between itself and one other thing. Like when you’re comparing two people or two objects. You use the comparative form.
And when you’re comparing three or more people or objects, so if you’re comparing three people to see who is the fastest, then you use the superlative form. Or if you’re comparing 25 people to see who’s the fastest, you still use the superlative form.