1. What are superlatives?
Superlatives are used to talk about ‘the most (adjective)‘ in a group.
This means the biggest, shortest, smallest, etc..
2. How to make superlatives?
Superlatives start with adjectives.
There are two main ways to make superlatives:
- x (be) the (adjective + est)
- x (be) the (most + adjective)
Which structure to choose depends on how long the adjective is.
3. One syllable adjectives
For adjectives that are one syllable, use ‘the …est’.
Sometimes small changes must be made to suit the adjective ending.
|Adjective ending||Example adjective||Superlative ending||Example superlative||Example sentence|
|–||short||the …est||the shortest||My sister is the shortest person in my family.|
|e||large||the …est||the largest||Nico got the largest piece of cake.|
|single vowel + single consonant||fat||single vowel + double consonant||the fattest||I am the fattest person in my office.|
4. Examples for one syllable adjectives
|Adjective||the adj. …est||Example sentence|
|tall||the tallest||Gary is the tallest student in the class.|
|fast||the fastest||Lily is the fastest swimmer I have ever seen.|
|sweet||the sweetest||You make the sweetest dessert.|
|large||the largest||The blue whale is the largest animal in the world.|
|nice||the nicest||Your wife is the nicest person I know.|
|fat||the fattest||Tim is the fattest person in the office.|
|hot||the hottest||We went to the beach on the hottest day of the year.|
Good and bad
The superlative for ‘good’ is ‘the best’.
The superlative for ‘bad’ is ‘the worst’.
|good||the best||Maggie is the best worker in the company.|
|bad||the worst||Graeme is the worst football player I have ever seen.|
5. Two syllable adjectives
For adjectives that are two syllables, both ‘the …est’ and ‘the most …’ are used.
Which one is used is based on rules:
|Adjective ending||Example adjective||Superlative||Example superlative||Example sentence|
|–||simple||the …est||the simplest||I got the simplest question on the exam wrong.|
|y||dirty||the …iest||the dirtiest||Julia’s hands are always the dirtiest in the class.|
|…ing||boring||the most …||the most boring||Hillary finds physics the most boring subject at school.|
|…en||wooden||the most …||the most wooden||His acting is the most wooden I have ever seen.|
|…ed||tired||the most …||the most tired||This is the most tired we have seen the boss.|
|…ous||famous||the most …||the most famous||Lily is the most famous person in my family: she was once on a soap opera.|
|…ious||pious||the most …||the most pious||You are the most pious, yet most hypocritical person, I know.|
|…ful||cheerful||the most …||the most cheerful||My dog is the most cheerful animal in the world.|
6. Examples for two syllable adjectives
|stupid||the stupidest||He is the stupidest boyfriend she has ever had.|
|shallow||the shallowest||The ocean is shallowest near the shore.|
|spicy||the spiciest||Dave’s chilli is the spiciest in the world.|
|pretty||the prettiest||Nicola is the prettiest girl in the class.|
|lovely||the loveliest||This is the loveliest part of the country.|
|wooden||the most wooden||Pippa is the most wooden actor in Hollywood.|
|tired||the most tired||I feel the most tired on Wednesday.|
|wicked||the most wicked||The man in that house is the most wicked on the street.|
|pompous||the most pompous||You are the most pompous person I know.|
|playful||the most playful||Dogs are the most playful pet.|
7. Three or more syllable adjectives
Superlatives for adjectives with three or more syllables use ‘the most …’.
8. Examples for three syllable adjectives
|interesting||the most interesting||This is the most interesting book that the author has ever written.|
|delicious||the most delicious||Your father cooks the most delicious pasta.|
|dangerous||the most dangerous||Hope Street is the most dangerous street in the city.|
|colourful||the most colourful||Wow. That is the most colourful jacket I have ever seen.|
9. Dropping ‘the’
If using a possessive pronoun, ‘the’ can be dropped:
|Possessive pronoun||Superlative||Example sentence|
|My||worst||My worst nightmare is being alone.|
|His||greatest||His greatest achievement was winning the high school tennis tournament when he was 13.|
|The company’s||most productive||The company’s most productive employee is Wallace.|
In many cases, the possessive pronoun can also be dropped.
|my test scores||my best||My chemistry score was best.|
|the times Juan moves||his quickest||Juan is quickest in the morning.|
|all the places Harris visits in his daily routine||his most comfortable||Harris is most comfortable watching TV on the sofa.|
10. Ordinals and superlatives
Ordinals are numbers such as 1st (first), 2nd (second), 3rd (third), 4th (fourth).
They can be used in superlative sentences.
|Penny is the second tallest student in her class.||That house is the second most expensive house on the street.|
|The Ford was the third fastest car in the race.||My family are the fourth richest in the UK.|
11. Negative superlatives
Superlatives can be negatives.
To make a negative superlative, use ‘the least …”.
|He is the least handsome of the three.||That was the least enjoyable holiday I have ever had.|
|She is the least quiet student in the class.||People often say pigs are the least intelligent animal, but really they are one of the most intelligent.|
1. Answer these questions:
(i) Who is the tallest person in your family?
(ii) Who is/was the best teacher at your school?
(iii) What was the best holiday you have ever had? And what was the worst?
2. Use ordinals and superlatives to describe people you know (for example, who is the shortest person you know, and who is the second shortest)
3. Use a negative superlative to describe something bad (for example: ‘he is the least thin person in the class’)