A superlative adjective expresses the extreme or highest degree of a quality. We use a superlative adjective to describe the extreme quality of one thing in a group of things.
In the example below, “biggest” is the superlative form of the adjective “big”:
A B C
A is the biggest.
Formation of Superlative Adjectives
As with comparative adjectives, there are two ways to form a superlative adjective:
- short adjectives: add “-est”
- long adjectives: use “most”
We also usually add ‘the’ at the beginning.
|1-syllable adjectives||old, fast|
|2-syllable adjectives ending in -y||happy, easy|
|Normal rule: add “-est”||old → the oldest|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in -e, just add -st||late → the latest|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in consonant, vowel, consonant, double the last consonant||big → the biggest|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in -y, change the y to i||happy → the happiest|
|2-syllable adjectives not ending in -y||modern, pleasant|
|all adjectives of 3 or more syllables||expensive, intellectual|
|Normal rule: use “most”||modern → the most modern
expensive → the most expensive
With some 2-syllable adjectives, we can use ‘-est’ or ‘most’:
- quiet → the quietest/most quiet
- clever → the cleverest/most clever
- narrow → the narrowest/most narrow
- simple → the simplest/most simple
The following adjectives have irregular forms:
- good → the best
- bad → the worst
- far → the furthest
Use of Superlative Adjectives
We use a superlative adjective to describe one thing in a group of three or more things. Look at these examples:
- Ahmad is 1m75. Nedal is 1m80. Fadi is 1m85. Fadi is the tallest.
- Canada, China and Russia are big countries. But Russia is the biggest.
- Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
If we talk about the three planets Earth, Mars and Jupiter, we can use superlative adjectives as shown in the table below:
|Diameter (km)||12,760||6,790||142,800||Jupiter is the biggest.|
|Distance from Sun (million km)||150||228||778||Jupiter is the most distant from the Sun.|
|Length of day (hours)||24||25||10||Jupiter has the shortest day.|
|Moons||1||2||16||Jupiter has the most moons.|
|22||-23||-150||Jupiter is the coldest.|
When we compare one thing with itself, we do not use “the”:
- Jordan is coldest in winter. (not the coldest)
- My boss is most generous when we get a big order. (not the most generous)