What is a Superlative Adjective? – Definition, Examples of Superlatives

Superlative adjective definition: Superlative adjectives are adjectives that compare the traits of three or more nouns.

What is a Superlative Adjective?

Superlative adjective meaning: A superlative adjective is an adjective in the extreme comparison. Superlative adjectives allow the writer to take the comparison of nouns to the highest or lowest limits of the quality being compared, e.g., best, worst, etc.

 

Superlative Adjective Examples:

  • Gloria owned the finest restaurant in the city.
    • Finest = superlative adjective
  • Paul was the worst speller in the class.
    • Worst = superlative adjective

Superlatives show whether the noun at hand has the highest or lowest degree of the given quality or trait.

  • Gloria’s restaurant is the finest in town.
  • Paul is the worst speller in the class.

These superlatives illustrate highest and lowest degrees.

How to Form Superlative Adjectives

example of a superlative adjectiveThe superlative form: Depending on the specific adjective you use, there are different ways to form a superlative adjective.

Let’s examine these ways.

With one-syllable words: add –est to the end of the word.

  • Small = smallest
  • Green = greenest

With one-syllable words that end in an “e”: add –st to the end of the word.

  • Large = largest
  • Fine = finest

With two syllable words: add –est to the end of the word.

  • Quiet = quietest
  • Rapid = rapidest

With two syllable words that end in “y”: change the “y” to an “i” and then add –est.

  • Murky = murkiest
  • Goofy = goofiest

With three or more syllable words: add more or least before the adjective.

  • Mysterious = most mysterious
  • Rambunctious = least rambunctious

If the adjective follows the pattern of consonant-vowel-consonant: double the consonant before adding –est to the end of the word.

  • Big = biggest
  • Fat = fattest

What Are Irregular Superlatives?

meaning of superlative adjectiveWhile most superlatives can be formed using the above methods, there are some that have rules all of their own. Just like there are irregular verbs, there are also irregular comparatives.

Examples of Irregular Superlatives:

  • Good > Better > Best
  • Bad > Worse > Worst = most
  • Little > Less > Least
  • Far > Farther > Farthest
  • Many > More > Most

Each of these follow the format adjective > comparative > superlative.

What is the Difference Between Superlative and Comparative Adjectives?

Superlative vs. comparative adjectives: While both are used to compare nouns, superlatives take the comparison to the highest or lowest degree and are used with three or more nouns. Comparative adjectives show the difference between just two nouns.

Example of Superlative vs. Comparative Adjectives:

  • Janet is good at math. > Janet is better than Sarah at math. > Janet is the best at math.

In this example, we have taken the adjective good and increased the intensity to better in the comparative and then ultimately to best in the superlative.

Beware of Double Superlatives

comparative and superlative adjectives definitionBe careful when using superlatives not double them.

  • Jose was the most fastest runner on the track team

To correct this, look back at your adjective: fast. Then, look at the rules for one-syllable words: add –est to the ending.

Now, correct the sentence:

  • Jose was the fastest runner on the track team.

Summary: What are Superlative Adjectives?

Define superlative adjective: To review, superlatives are adjectives used to emphasize a noun that it at the top or bottom limits of that description.

Example:

  • Going on a safari was the most adventurous vacation Claudia experienced over the summer.
    • most adventurous = superlative adjective