Comparisons

Posted: May 6th, 2014, 5:03 pm   By: brittany.corners

“When you’re used to the raw power of Iggy and the Stooges, everything else sounds kind of precious by comparison.”—Juno explaining why your mixtape is lame


This week, we examine how to create comparative and superlative forms of adjectives. Let’s get started by laying out some syllable-based guidelines.

One-syllable adjectives

Making comparisons out of these is a relatively simple affair: just add -er or -est.

  • Everybody knows anchovies are gross.
  • Little Billy can’t decide if anchovies are grosser than pickled onions.
  • It turns out that vegemite is actually the grossest.

Two-syllable adjectives

Now things get tricky. There is no clear rule for creating comparisons with two-syllable adjectives, but you can stick with the following general guidelines.

For many two-syllable adjectives, just place “more” or “most” in front.

  • The pig enjoyed a pleasant nap.
  • The pig’s nap would have been more pleasant without a baby goat jumping on his kidneys.
  • That was not the most pleasant nap for the pig.

However, if the adjective ends in -y, –er, -le, or –ow, place an -er or -est onto the end.

  • The happy goat had never been happier than in his happiest moment when he gave the pig renal failure.
  • Unfortunately, there are exceptions to these two rules, and sometimes more than one form of a comparative adjective is acceptable. For example, stupid becomes stupider/stupidest or more/most stupid. When in doubt, just grab a dictionary.

    Three-syllable adjectives

    With adjectives comprised of three or more syllables, comparisons become simple once again: Just put “more” or “most” right in front of the adjective.

    • One Direction’s music is abhorrent.
    • Their hairstyles are even more abhorrent.
    • The fact that boy bands will never, ever go away is the most abhorrent.

    Irregular adjectives

    Of course, irregular adjectives throw a wrench into everything. Good doesn’t become gooder or goodest; we use better or best. Luckily for us, the roster of irregular adjectives is relatively short: just words like bad, far, little, many, and well.