Both comparatives and superlatives are types of adjectives used to form a comparison. They are useful tools for establishing how many things you are comparing when it is unclear in the context of the sentence as well. See below for the differences between the two.
If you are comparing two things, comparatives are used. In most cases, they are created by adding “-er” to the end of an adjective (brave, braver). As the comparison tools of two things, these are usually accompanied by “than” or “but” within sentences.
Superlatives are used when you are comparing more than two things. These are usually created by adding “-est” (brave, bravest) to the end of an adjective. The word “the” almost always precedes superlatives because they are describing something unique among the things in the comparison.
There are rules that dictate how these special adjectives are formed and some exceptions to the general rules. Each comparative and superlative is formed based on the number of syllables and the letters used at the end of the adjective off which they are created. Think of syllables as the sections within words as you pronounce them. “Sad” for example has one syllable, but “happy” has two (hap-py).
Example: original adjective ends in “e” – comparatives receive “er,” superlatives receive “est”
Example: original adjective ends with one vowel and one consonant – consonant is doubled before adding “er” or “est”
Example: original adjective ends with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end – uses “er” for comparative and “est” for superlative
Example: ending in “y” – the “y” changes to an “i” before the “er” for comparative or “est” for superlative is added
Example: not ending in “y” – “more” is added before the comparative and “most” before the superlative
All adjectives that have three or more syllables follow the same rule as two-syllable ones that do not end in “y.”
Some adjectives take an irregular form of both comparatives and superlatives, and these do not follow the general rules that apply to most others. The following are irregular adjectives followed by the comparatives and superlatives.
Irregular adjective example: