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6 rules for using superlative adjectives


6 rules for using superlative adjectives. We use superlative adjectives when we are comparing one thing to 2 or more things.

Examples of superlative adjectives:

  • Of all animals, the cheetah is the fastest runner. (comparing cheetahs to every other animal)
  • Some people think that English is the most difficult language in the world. (comparing English to all other languages)
  • In my house, I have to get up the earliest because my job starts at 5 a.m. (comparing the time I get up to the time everyone else gets up).

Syllables and superlative adjectives

To understand the rules for using superlative adjectives, you will need to know the meaning of a syllable.

A syllable is a single sound. For example, ‘goodbye’ has two syllables – ‘good’ and ‘bye’.

Here are some more examples:

1 syllable words: hot, cold, dry
2 syllable words: happy, tired
3 syllable words: excited, exhausted

When making superlative adjectives, there are 6 rules you need to remember:

Superlative adjectives rule 1 of 6: With adjectives with one syllable, simply add the …..+est. For example:

  • tall > the tallest
  • fast > the fastest
  • high > the highest

Superlative adjectives rule 2 of 6: if the adjective ends in +y, remove the +y and add the …+iest. For example:

  • happy > the happiest
  • angry > the angriest
  • busy > the busiest

Superlative adjectives rule 3 of 6:  Adjectives that already end in +e only have the …+st added. For example:

  • nice > the nicest
  • safe > the safest
  • late > the latest

Superlative adjectives rule 4 of 6:

We add the most… to words with 3 syllables or more. For example:

  • intelligent > the most intelligent
  • beautiful > the most beautiful
  • interesting > the most interesting

Superlative adjectives rule 5 of 6: With adjectives with two syllables, there are TWO possible options.

  • Some 2-syllable adjectives have the est (especially adjectives that end in -y, -le, and -er)
    • happy > the happiest
    • bright > the brightest
  • Some 2-syllable adjectives have the most…

    • honest > the most honest
    • modern > the most modern
  • Other 2 syllable adjectives can use either of these options
    • clever > the cleverest OR the most clever
    • gentle > the gentlest OR the most gentle

Superlative adjectives rule 6 of 6: Adjectives that end with a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant need the consonant doubled. For example:

  • big > the biggest (not the bigest)
  • hot > the hottest (not the hotest)
  • fat > the fattest (not the fatest)

Now test your skills with a quick test. Click the link in the table below.


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