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Grammar

Three Degrees of Adjectives in English

You might know that adjectives are words that modify a noun or a pronoun, therefore adjectives are called modifiers in English. Sometimes modifiers are used to compare two or more people, things, actions, or qualities. This is called three degrees of adjectives, In this article, we will provide you with rules to know to form and use all three degrees of adjectives correctly.

Three Degrees of Adjectives
Three Degrees of Adjectives

Also Read:

Three Degrees of Adjectives

1. The Positive Degree
The positive degree of an adjective makes no comparison.

  • A tall building.
  • She runs fast.
  • This is a beautiful car.

2. The Comparative Degree
The comparative degree compares two people, things, actives, or qualities.

  • A taller building than this one.
  • She runs faster than I do.
  • This car is more beautiful than yours.

3. The Superlative Degree
The superlative degree compares a person, thing, activity, or quality with the group.

  • The tallest building in the town.
  • She is the fastest runner among the students.
  • This is the most beautiful car I have ever seen.

Rules for making comparatives and superlatives

One syllable adjectives.
1. Form the comparative and superlative forms of a one-syllable adjective by adding –er for the comparative form and –est for the superlative.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
talltallertallest
oldolderoldest
shortshortershortest

2. If the one-syllable adjective ends with an –e, just add –r for the comparative form and –st for the superlative form.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
largelargerlargest
wisewiserwisest
widewiderwidest

3. If the one-syllable adjective ends with a single consonant with a vowel before it, double the consonant and add –er for the comparative form and double the consonant and add –est for the superlative form.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
thinthinnerthinnest
bigbiggerbiggest
sadsaddersaddest

Two-syllable adjectives
1. With most two-syllable adjectives, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
peacefulmore peacefulmost peaceful
carelessmore carelessmost careless
famousmore famousmost famous

2. If the two-syllable adjectives ending with –y, change the y to “i” and add –er for the comparative form, and for the superlative form change the “y” to “i” and add –est.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
prettyprettierprettiest
happyhappierhappiest
angryangrierangriest

3. Two-syllable adjectives ending in –er, -le, or –ow take –er for the comparative form and –est to for the superlative form.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
clevercleverercleverest
narrownarrowernarrowest
gentlegentlergentlest

Adjectives with three or more syllables.
For adjectives with three syllables or more, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
beautifulmore beautifulmost beautiful
convenientmore convenientmost convenient
comfortablemore comfortablemost comfortable

Exceptions:
Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
Goodbetterbest
badworseworst
manymoremost
muchmoremost
wellbetterbest
farfartherfarthest/furthest
littlelessleast
   

Note: Two-syllable adjectives that follow two rules. These adjectives can be used with -er and -est and with more and most.

Positive          Comparative   Superlative     
simplesimpler/more simplesimplest/most simple
clevercleverer/more clevercleverest/most clever
gentlegentler/more gentlegentlest/most gentle
quietquieter/more quietquietest/most quiet

Common Mistakes With Comparisons 
1. Avoid making a double comparison.

  • After dinner, the orchestra began playing a series of more livelier melodies. (Incorrect)
  • After dinner, the orchestra began playing a series of more lively melodies.  (Correct)
  • After dinner, the orchestra began playing a series of livelier melodies. (Correct)

2. Some adjectives are “absolute” and cannot be compared.
“ Absolute” Adjectives: first, last, equal and unique are adjective which cannot be compared.

  • This is a unique bike. (Correct)
  • This is a unique than your. (Incorrect)

3. Make sure that the items being compared are truly comparable. If not, reword as necessary.

  • The tropical fish found in the Caribbean are less colorful and varied than the South Pacific.  (Incorrect)
  • The tropical fish found in the Caribbean are less colorful and varied than the fish found in the South Pacific. (Correct)

When you learned about three degrees of adjectives then attempt the exercises of this lesson.

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9 comments

Peter April 4, 2018 at 2:53 am

Why is the “First Degree” of adjectives called “positive”, when they can be very negative? “bad”, “awful” etc. These should just be called descriptive adjectives. It should be Descriptive, Comparative and Superlative!

Reply
Abid ullah December 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm

really?

Reply
KUMAR Pankaj July 4, 2018 at 8:55 am

Too Good

Reply
Abid ullah December 11, 2018 at 6:21 pm

really?

Reply
khalil saher December 16, 2018 at 11:10 pm

wonderful sir nice job

Reply
BISMO December 17, 2018 at 11:04 am

Thank you Khalil Saher for appreciation.

Reply
zahid gul February 4, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Gteat

Reply
Rizwan Shahid February 15, 2019 at 1:08 pm

You have not told about adjectives ending in -ior like superior, inferior, junior, senior; that they do not take ‘than’ but ‘to’ after them.

Reply
BISMO February 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Thanks for the idea Rizwan.

Reply

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