What are superlatives?
I climbed the tallest mountain.
I have the hottest drink.
This is the most important thing.
We use superlatives when we compare 3 or more things and want to express the highest or lowest degree of an adjective. You can recognize them when we see “-st” at the end of a word or when you see “most” or “least” before an adjective. There are a few rules we have to follow however when constructing this form, so let’s have a look.
How to form a superlative
There are two main ways to form superlatives.
For some small adjectives we can simply add “-est” to the end of the adjective to make our superlative.
Small adjectives (ending with a single consonant)
If the adjective ends with a single consonant (and with a single vowel before it) then we double that letter before adding “-est” to the end. However if there are two vowels before the final consent then the last letter is not doubled (e.g “cheap” -> “cheapest”)
Small adjectives (ending in “e”)
If the adjective already ends in “e” then we just need to add “-st” to the end.
Small adjectives (ending in “y”)
For these adjectives we change the “y” to and “i” before adding “-st” to the end.
For longer adjectives we do something different. we don’t add “-est” to our endings. For these we create a short adjectival phrase by adding either “most” or “least” before our adjective.
least / most important
least / most beautiful
least / most amazing
Just like with comparatives there are some words that don’t fit this pattern and instead have their own forms.
Comparatives vs superlatives
With comparatives and superlatives we are using comparisons in both but comparatives express that something is more than something else but not necessarily the most of something. You can see in this graph how we can use comparatives and superlatives to express different degrees.
Here you can see the superlative form next to it’s comparative and original adjectival forms. Remember our irregular superlatives (from “good”, “bad” etc) and make a note of their comparative counterparts.