Forming Comparatives and Superlatives from Adverbs (Grammar Lesson)
The Quick AnswerThe rules for forming comparatives (e.g., better, more quickly, less efficiently) and superlatives (e.g., best, most quickly, least efficiently) from adverbs are explained below. As they are quite complicated, some people form double comparatives (e.g., more better, more quicklier) or double superlatives (e.g., bestest, most quickliest). These double forms are serious grammar errors.
Forming Comparatives and Superlatives from AdverbsThe rules for forming comparatives and superlatives from adverbs are varied.
Comparatives of AdverbsHere are some examples of comparatives of adverbs:
- The goat can see better than you think. (better — comparative of well)
- Try to paint the edges more carefully; it will save time later. (more carefully — comparative of carefully)
- He tries harder than most, but he has no aptitude for languages. (harder — comparative of hard)
- The engine operates less efficiently with alcohol. (less efficiently — comparative of efficiently)
Superlatives of AdverbsHere are some examples of superlatives of adverbs:
- I have found that the office runs best with the radio on and the heating down. (best — superlative of well)
- The gift is most gratefully received. (most gratefully: superlative of gratefully)
- It was obvious that they were not used to high heels, but Karen moved least gracefully of all. (least gracefully — superlative of gracefully)
- She answered most abruptly . (most abruptly: superlative of abruptly)
Forming Comparatives and Superlatives from AdverbsThe table below shows the rules for forming comparatives and superlatives from adverbs:
|Type of Adverb||Example of Type of Adverb||How to Form the Comparative||How to Form the Superlative|
|More Than One Syllable||carefully||add less or more
|add most or least
What is a Comparative?An expression like more slowly (formed from the adverb slowly) is known as a comparative. It is used to show who (or what) has performed an action in a specific manner to the greater or lesser degree. (i.e., It is used to compare two performances.)
- Use Paul's version; he writes more diplomatically than Erika. (In this example, more diplomatically compares Paul's performance with Erika's. The verb is to write.)
- Claire dances less elegantly. (In this example, less elegantly is the comparative. It compares Claire's performance with somebody else's.)
What is a Superlative?An expression like most carefully (formed from the adverb carefully) is known as a superlative. It is used to show who (or what) has performed an action in a specific manner to the greatest or least degree.
- The chairman spoke most convincingly of all. (most convincingly — superlative of convincingly)
- Pete acted least sociably. (least sociably — superlative of sociably)
Only Do It OnceWhen forming a comparative or superlative, be careful not to use a double comparative or a double superlative.
- Of all the fish in Europe, pike attack the most fastest. (This is a double superlative. The word fastest is the superlative of fast. It is a mistake to use the word most as well.)