Difference Between Comparative and Superlative

Main Difference

The main difference between comparative and superlative forms of adjectives is that comparative degree compares two objects, things or ideas, whereas superlative degree is the comparison between three or more objects, entities, or ideas.

Comparative vs. Superlative

Comparative and superlative are the most common degrees of adjectives in the English language. We use adjectives to tell the quality of something. The degrees of adjective compare or contrast two or more than two things. Comparative and superlative degrees make a comparison of two or more entities.

Comparative degree compares two objects, things or ideas. The superlative degree is the comparison between three or more objects, entities, or ideas. The comparative degree is used in sentences where two things are compared. Superlative degree is used in sentences where more than two things are compared.

In the English language, comparative and superlative degrees are used with adjectives and adverbs. The degree of comparative is directed by the use of ‘than.’ The degree of superlative is directed by the use of the article ‘the.’ Comparative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-er, -ier, or more.’ Superlative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-est,-iest or most.’

The comparative degree tells if something is exceeding above some other thing. Superlative degree declares a specific ranking above all its contemporaries or competent. The comparative degree is used mostly to suggest a thing which preferable among the two. Superlative degree refers to a thing which is un-comparable or which even do not have a match.

In other words, comparative degree aims at making a comparison whereas superlative degree aims at making one thing superior of all. Comparatives compare the differences between any of the two objects they modify (taller, smaller, faster, lower). Superlative is at the upper or lower limit of any quality (largest, smallest, fastest, highest). Comparative is simply used in the sentences where two nouns are compared. Superlative is used in sentences where a specific subject is compared to a group of objects.

Comparison Chart

ComparativeSuperlative
A degree of adjective that compares two objects, entities, things or ideasA degree of adjective that is the comparison between three or more objects, entities, or ideas
Articles Used
ThenThe
Formation
By the addition of ‘er,’ ‘ier’ or ‘more.’‘est,’ ‘iest’ or ‘most.’
Compare
Two thingsThree or more things
Aim
To make a comparison between two thingsTo make one thing superior of all

What is Comparative?

The comparative degree is the most common degree of adjectives in the English language. We use adjectives to tell the quality of something. The degrees of adjective compare or contrast two or more than two things. Comparative degree compares two objects, things or ideas. It is used in sentences where two objects/things are compared.

In the English language, a comparative degree is used with adjectives and adverbs. The degree of comparative is directed by the use of ‘than.’ Comparative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-er, -ier, or more.’ The detailed process of making comparative is different from that of superlative formation.

For making a comparative, the number of syllables is considered. If it is one syllabic word, then ‘er’ will be added in it. If it is a two syllabic word and ends with y, then ‘ier’ is added in it to make its comparative degree. If it is more than two syllabic words then the comparative is formed by adding ‘more’ before the word.

The comparative degree tells if something is exceeding above some other thing. It is used to suggest a thing which is preferable among the two. Comparative degree aims at making a comparison whereas superlative degree aims at making one thing superior of all. Comparatives compare the differences between any of the two objects they modify (taller, smaller, faster, lower).

The comparative degree of an adjective is used with an adjective as well as an adverb. We also use ‘the’ with comparative adjectives to show a thing depending on another such as The longer you wait, the more excitement you feel. (When you wait for a long time, you feel excited when the wait is over.)

Examples of One, Two, and Three Syllabic Comparatives:

  • One syllabic, fat – fatter, big – bigger, cheap – cheaper
  • Two syllabic/Ends with y, busy – busier, happy – happier
  • Three syllabic or more: tangled – more tangled, beautiful – more beautiful

Example with Adjectives and Adverbs

  • He walked a bit faster than I expected.
  • Can you eat faster, please?
  • John is working harder than his co-workers.

Irregular Comparatives

  • Good-Better
  • Bad-Worse
  • Little-Less

What is Superlative?

Superlative is one of the most common degrees of adjectives in the English language. Superlative degree is the comparison between three or more objects, entities, or ideas. It is used in sentences where more than two things are compared. In the English language, the superlative degree is used with adjectives and adverbs.

The degree of superlative is directed by the use of the article ‘the’ e.g. It was the best meal of my life. Superlative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-est,-iest or most.’ There is a detailed formation process of superlative degree of the adjective.

For making a superlative, the number of syllables is considered. If it is one syllabic word, then ‘est’ will be added in it. If it is a two syllabic word and ends with y, then ‘-iest’ is added in it to make its superlative degree. If it is more than two syllabic words then the superlative is formed by adding ‘most’ before the word.

Superlative degree declares a specific ranking above all its contemporaries or competent. The degree of superlative degree refers to a thing which is un-comparable or which even do not have a match — this degree of adjective aims at making one thing superior of all. Superlative is the upper or lower limit of any quality (largest, smallest, fastest, highest).

Superlative is used in sentences where a specific subject is compared to a group of objects. There is another category which is known as irregular superlatives. Irregular superlatives do not follow the normal process of superlative formation.

Examples One, Two and Three Syllabic Superlatives

  • One syllabic, fat – fattest, big – biggest, cheap – cheapest
  • Two syllabic/Ends with y, busy – busiest, happy – happiest
  • Three syllabic or more: tangled – most tangled, beautiful – most beautiful
  • The mobile you are having is the least attractive mobile you ever have.
  • John is tallest among all his siblings.
  • Oxygen is the most required thing for our survival on earth.

Irregular Superlatives

  • Good-Best
  • Bad-Worst
  • Little-Least

Key Differences

  1. Comparative degree compares two objects, things or ideas, whereas superlative degree is the comparison between three or more objects, entities, or ideas.
  2. The comparative degree is used in sentences where two things are compared. On the other hand, a superlative degree is used in sentences where more than two things are compared.
  3. The degree of comparative is directed by the use of ‘than’ on the contrary the degree of superlative is directed by the use of the article ‘the.’
  4. The comparative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-er, -ier, or more.’ Conversely superlative degree of adjective forms by the addition of ‘-est,-iest or most.’
  5. The comparative degree tells if something is exceeding above some other thing while superlative degree declares a specific ranking above all its contemporaries or competent.
  6. The comparative degree is used mostly to suggest a thing which preferable among the two on the other hand superlative degree refers to a thing which is un-comparable or which even do not have a match.
  7. The comparative degree aims at making a comparison contrarily superlative degree aims at making one thing superior of all.
  8. Comparatives compare the differences between any of the two objects they modify (taller, smaller, faster, lower) inversely superlative is describes an object that is at the upper or lower limit of any quality (largest, smallest, fastest, highest).
  9. Comparatives are used in the sentences where two nouns are compared on the contrary superlatives are commonly used in sentences where a specific subject is compared to a group of objects.

Conclusion

Comparatives and superlatives are the two degrees of adjectives that are different from each other in many ways.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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