When we talk and write, we often need to compare people and things. And in order to identify someone or something that is unique compared to others of its group, we use superlatives. But how do we create superlatives? Read on to find out.
If you compare two people or things, you use comparatives. For example:
My university course is harder than yours.
When you compare one thing to many others in order to express an extreme, we use superlatives. For example,
My university course is the hardest.
How to create superlatives
Like comparatives, there are three ways to make superlative adjectives:
- Long adjectives (with two or more syllables) – add the most in front of the adjective. For example,
She is the most interesting lecturer at the college.
It’s the most difficult university to get into.
These are the most useful books you need to prepare for the exam.
- Short adjectives (with one syllable) – add –est to the adjective and precede it with the. For example,
This is the biggest campus in the city.
What was the toughest exam you’ve ever done?
He got the highest grades in my class last year.
When the two last letters of an adjective are a vowel and consonant, we double the last consonant. For example,
hot – hottest
thin – thinnest
- Adjectives that have two syllables ending in -y – we change the -y to an -i and add -est, and again precede the superlative with the. For example,
Going to university was the happiest period of my life.
The first year was the easiest part of college. Then it got harder.
Using ‘the least’
When you want to refer to a thing or person that is inferior in a quality to the rest of a group, we use ‘the least’ in front of all adjectives. For example,
The least productive way of preparing for an exam is to study the day before.
This is the least popular course. In fact there are only 20 students.
What’s the least difficult subject at your school?
As with comparatives, there are some superlatives that are irregular and don’t follow the rules above.
- Good – the best
That’s the best grade I’ve ever got!
- Bad – the worst
The worst part of studying is doing exams..
- Far – the furthest
Where’s the furthest dormitory for students?
- Fun – the most fun
Doing group projects is the most fun part of my course.
Using ‘one of…’
It’s common to use superlatives in combination with ‘one of’ to indicate that something is included in a group of superlatives. For example,
He was one of the most important scientists in history.
This is one of the longest books I’ve ever studied.
Economics is one of the most popular subjects.
Using superlatives in English is an important skill and can help you significantly in your descriptions. Practice now by doing this quiz.