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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

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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.

One-Syllable Adjectives 
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
tall taller tallest
old older oldest
short shorter shortest

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

One-Syllable Adjectives With an -e
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
large larger largest
wise wiser wisest
wide wider widest

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.

One-Syllable Adjectives With Single Consonant and a Vowel Before it 
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
thin thinner thinnest
big bigger biggest
sad sadder saddest

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

Two-Syllable Adjectives 
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
peaceful more peaceful most peaceful
careless more careless most careless
famous more famous most 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.

Two-Syllable Adjectives Ends with -y
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
pretty prettier prettiest
happy happier happiest
angry angrier angriest

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

Two-Syllable Adjectives Ending in -er, le or ow 
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
clever cleverer cleverest
narrow narrower narrowest
gentle gentler gentlest

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

Three-Syllable Adjectives 
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
beautiful more beautiful most beautiful
convenient more convenient most convenient
comfortable more comfortable most comfortable

Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.

Irregular Comparative and Superlative Forms
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
Good better best
bad worse worst
many more most
much more most
well better best
far farther farthest/furthest
little less least

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

Two-Syllable Adjectives  Follow Two Rules
Positive           Comparative    Superlative     
simple simpler/more simple simplest/most simple
clever cleverer/more clever cleverest/most clever
gentle gentler/more gentle gentlest/most gentle
quiet quieter/more quiet quietest/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.

Related Articles:

Now you are an expert in using adjectives and creating interesting comparisons. Write your feedback down about three degrees of adjectives. Otherwise, if you don’t have any time for English essay writing, don’t lose your chance to try SmartWritingService, an essay writing service you can fully rely upon.

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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!

Abid ullah December 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm


KUMAR Pankaj July 4, 2018 at 8:55 am

Too Good

Abid ullah December 11, 2018 at 6:21 pm


khalil saher December 16, 2018 at 11:10 pm

wonderful sir nice job

BISMO December 17, 2018 at 11:04 am

Thank you Khalil Saher for appreciation.

zahid gul February 4, 2019 at 9:01 pm


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.

BISMO February 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Thanks for the idea Rizwan.


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