Unit 13: Flat pack skyscrapers
Comparatives and superlatives
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- 1 Pop-ups
- 2 Hidden talents
- 3 Can't buy me love
- 4 Travellers' tales
- 5 The colleague from hell
- 6 Jurassic mystery: unpacking the past
- 7 Career changes
- 8 Art
- 9 Project management
- 10 The dog ate my homework!
- 11 The diary of a double agent
- 12 Fashion forward
- 13 Flat pack skyscrapers
- 14 Extreme sports
- 15 Food fads
- 16 Me, my selfie and I
- 17 Endangered animals
- 18 A nip and a tuck: cosmetic surgery
- 19 I'm really sorry...
- 20 Telling stories
- 21 Fakes and phrasals
- 22 Looking to the future
- 23 Becoming familiar with things
- 24 From rags to riches
- 25 Against the odds
- 26 Our future on Mars?
- 27 Where is it illegal to get a fish drunk?
- 28 Dodgy dating
- 29 Annoying advice
- 30 I'll have been studying English for thirty weeks
Are your shoes more comfortable than mine? Who's got the biggest feet? In this session we take a look at comparatives and superlatives and find out what a famous golfer contributed to the language of comparison.
Comparatives and superlatives
Catherine had a terrible journey to work this morning. But it’s a useful way to help us understand comparatives and superlatives. Find out why in this episode of 6 Minute Grammar.
Listen to the audio
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Finn.
And me, Catherine. Hello.
Today we're talking about comparatives and superlatives. So, let's start with comparatives. We use them to compare one thing or person with another. Catherine, how was your journey to work this morning?
Ok. Well, my journey to work wasn't great, actually. I woke up later than usual, so I took the bus because it's quicker than walking. And it's easier than cycling, too. But the traffic was much busier than normal and we went slower and slower and people became more and more impatient. And the slower the bus went, the more impatient the people became.
You poor thing. But, lots of comparatives there in your story - we had later and quicker: Catherine woke up later than usual, and she said the bus is quicker than walking.
I did. And to make the comparative form of short adjectives or adverbs, we just add the letters -e-r. So, quick, quicker. But if the word already ends in -e, we just add the letter -r. Late, later.
Remember that we often use the word than in comparative sentences, but sometimes we can leave it out, for example in the question Which is quicker – the bus or the train?
I also said that the bus is easier than cycling and the traffic was much busier than normal. For adjectives and adverbs that end in the letter -y and the sound ee, make comparatives by losing the letter -y and adding the letters -i-e-r. So the comparative of easy is easier.
And busy becomes busier. In fact, Catherine said the traffic was much busier. Now, we can use much or a lot before an adjective or adverb to emphasise the difference. Much busier; a lot easier.
To make comparative forms of most adjectives and adverbs with two or more syllables, we use more.
For example, impatient has three syllables: im-pa-tient, so the comparative of impatient is more impatient.
That’s right and to emphasise how something changes, we can repeat comparatives, or the word more with and in the middle, like this:
The bus went slower and slower and people became more and more impatient.
Don't remind me. Here’s another way to use comparatives. Listen to this sentence: the slower the bus went, the more impatient the people became.
I'm not surprised. Here Catherine used two different comparatives - slower and more impatient - with the, to say how one thing changes when something else changes. The slower the bus went, the more impatient the people became. Really not a good morning, was it, Catherine?
Not at all. And it got worse when the bus broke down!
Oh really? Oh no, but perfect for us because worse is the comparative adjective of bad. It is irregular. The comparative adverb is badly. Catherine’s morning went badly.
Very badly. And the comparative of both good and well is also irregular: it's better.
6 Minute Grammar from the BBC.
And we're talking about comparatives and superlatives.
Let's look at superlative adjectives and adverbs. They help us compare one person or thing with several others. So Catherine, what is the quickest way for you to get to work?
Well, usually the bus is the quickest, but not today. But walking is the most reliable way and it’s also the easiest.
OK, we make superlatives in a similar way to comparatives…
… but the ending for short words is -e-s-t.
So quick becomes the quickest…
… and we use most for words with two or more syllables.
So the superlative of reliable is the most reliable.
That's right. For two-syllable words ending in the letter -y, change the y to i and add -e-s-t, so easy becomes the easiest.
Don't forget to put the before a superlative adjective or adverb, so it's: walking is the best way to get to work…
… though we can use possessive adjectives instead of the word the, like this:
My best friend is getting married today.
And did you spot the irregular superlative - best? This is the superlative form of good and well.
… and the irregular superlative of bad is worst.
Now for the quiz. Which is correct? a) Your internet connection is faster than mine or b) Your internet connection is fastest than mine.
Good. And the last one, a) I hope I have a better journey home tonight or b) I hope I have a best journey home tonight.
Well, it’s a). And we do hope you have a much better journey home tonight, Catherine.
There's lots more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for more 6 Minute Grammar.
End of Session 2
That's the end of this session. We hope you enjoyed learning about comparative and superlative forms. You can practise these forms in Session 3 when we learn about a Chinese tower built higher and faster than most!
One syllable adjectives and adverbs add -er for comparative and -est for superlative.
cheap - cheaper - cheapest
great - greater - greatest
fast - faster - fastest
If the adjective or adverb ends in -e, then just add -r (comparative) or -st (superlative).
nice - nicer - nicest
safe - safer - safest
rude - ruder - rudest
If the adjective ends in a vowel + consonant, double the last letter before adding -er/-est unless it ends in-w.
big - bigger - biggest
hot - hotter - hottest
new - newer - newest
For adjectives/adverbs with three or more syllables, use more in the comparative and most in the superlative.
expensive - more expensive - most expensive
fluently - more fluently - most fluently
For many adjectives/adverbs with two syllables the comparative and superlative can be formed either by adding -er/-est or by using more/most.
quiet - quieter/more quiet - quietest/most quiet
common - commoner/more common - commonest/most common
For two syllable adjectives/adverbs that end in -y: change the y to i before adding -er/-est.
happy - happier - happiest
busy - busier - busiest
early - earlier - earliest