Superlative Adjectives – Definition, Rules, Examples, Exceptions, List

Superlative Adjectives – Definition, Rules, Examples, and Exceptions

Just by the name, we can understand that the function of superlative adjectives is to describe something at its highest degree. Usually, we use the superlative degree when we need to compare two or more things having similar attributes. Some of the most common superlative adjectives used in everyday speech are highest, coolest, fastest, etc.

While studying superlative adjectives, we need to understand that the word superlative can also be used without the grammar but a single word. Like, it can be used to define something as being the best or most excellent one in that category. The word superlative can also be used as a noun.

what superlative adjectives definition rules examples list
What superlative adjectives definition rules examples list

How Can We Use Superlative Adjectives?

For example, if we have three boys of different heights and we are measuring them by their height, then the boy who would win the contest would be considered as the tallest boy, and the boy with the least height would be considered the shortest guy.

To form a superlative adjective, you need to use the positive form of an adjective which is also known as the initial form of an adjective. For example, tall, short, long, slow, etc.

Between superlative and positive, there is another degree called the comparative degree. While a superlative degree can be formed by adding “est” after most of the positive form of an adjective, to form the comparative degree, you need to add “er”. Like, stronger, faster, wider, etc.

These adjectives are usually used to compare between two things, people or objects belonging to the same category. By using this, we can establish the fact where one is better than the other.

Now, let us look at some of the general rules of forming superlatives from a positive form of the adjective:

General rules of forming Superlative Adjectives

For One-Syllable Adjectives

In this case, you just need to add “est” to the end of the word. Like, cool will become coolest. But if the adjective ends with syllables like “e”, you just need to add “st” like Fine becomes Finest. Again if the word ends with “y”, you need to add “est” as Dry will become Driest.

Ending With Consonant-Vowel-Consonant:

If the one-syllable adjective is ending with a consonant-vowel-consonant, you need to use the final consonant two times and then add the “est”. For example, Sad becomes Saddest.

Two-Syllable Adjectives Ending With Y:

If the two-syllable adjectives end with “Y”, then you will have to replace that with “I” before adding “est”. For example, Funny becomes Funniest.

For Two-Syllable Adjectives Ending With -er, -le, or -ow: 

In such cases, you need to add “est” at the end to make the adjective. For example, Narrow will become Narrowest.

Other Adjectives Having Two Syllables Or Longer: 

For these words, you need to add words like most or least with the positive form to make it superlative. For example, beautiful becomes most or least beautiful depending on the way you want to say that.

There are a few other things that you need to keep in mind while making superlative degrees. Like, we often have to use the article “the” before we use the superlative degree. Like, I want to have the yummiest hot chocolate in the world.

But if we are using it to compare with something else, then the article is not necessary.

Big cats are fiercest when they run after their prey.

The article “the” can also be omitted when a possessive adjective or possessive noun is used.

For example,

This was the longest song of Pink Floyd.

Correct Use of Superlative Adjectives And Its Rules

To become grammatically correct, you need to know when to use the superlative degree.

  • You can use the superlative degree when you are comparing more than two things or people but never when you are comparing exactly two people or two things.

E.g., Lions are the strongest of animals. – Superlative

E.g., Lions are stronger than turtles. – Comparative

Here, the first example is superlative because I was comparing the strength of the lion to every other animal on this planet. But when I was comparing his strength just with the turtles, I must use the comparative degree since the comparison is just between these two.

  • During the application of superlative degrees, you will have to stick to one particular variety. It means that you cannot use the “est” forms and the “most or least” forms together. It is sometimes used to emphasize or bring about a rhetorical effect, but it is always advisable to stick to one variation at a time.

E.g., Biriyani is the tastiest food in here.

E.g., Biriyani is the most delicious food here.

E.g., Independence is the most preferable outcome for any citizen of a free country.

E.g., I am looking for the quietest place around here.

E.g., I am looking for the most tranquil place around here.

  • We need to use the article “the” or some possessive noun before the superlative degree. Otherwise, the sentence will be deemed incorrect.

E.g., He is standing near the tallest building. – Wrong

E.g., He is standing near the tallest building. Correct.

E.g., Mathematics is the most difficult subject for a lot of students.

E.g., Mathematics is the most difficult subject for a lot of students.

E.g., According to me, a Ferrari is the fastest car in the world.

E.g., According to me, a Ferrari is the fastest car in the world.


So there you have it, all the facts and rules you need to know before using superlative adjectives. Another thing to keep in mind is that the words “most” and “least” are not just used for superlative adjectives. They are used for other reasons as well. Hence, you need to be very precise with the context to use them appropriately.

If the context is not there, just by seeing these two words, you cannot conclude that the sentence has a superlative degree in it. Like, if you are seeing a sentence like:

The police are puzzled by this most confusing case. 

Here, the word most is used as an adverb to modify the adjective confusing.

Refer to our few most interesting articles,

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