1.12 Irregular Adjectives

Irregular Adjectives

In English, adjectives have comparative and superlative forms that are used to more exactly describe nouns.

Example

Joey is tall, Pete is taller than Joey, and Malik is the tallest of the three boys.

One common way to form the comparative and superlative forms is to add –er and –est, respectively, as shown in the preceding example. A second common method is to use the words more and most or lessand least, as shown in the following example.

Example

Lucy is eager to start, Callie is more eager, and Shannon is the most eager.

Some adjectives do not follow these two common methods of forming comparatives and superlatives. You will simply have to learn these irregular adjectives by heart. Some of them are listed Table 21.2 “Sample Adjectives That Form Superlatives Using Irregular Patterns”. Notice that some are irregular when used with a certain meaning and not when used with a different meaning. See Chapter 20 “Grammar”, Section 20.6.3 “Using Comparatives and Superlatives” for more examples of irregular adjectives.

Table 21.2 Sample Adjectives That Form Superlatives Using Irregular Patterns

much (noncount nouns)

more

most

many (count nouns)

more

most

little (size)

littler

littlest

little (number)

less

least

old (people and things)

older

oldest

old (family members)

elder

eldest

Some adjectives’ comparatives and superlatives can be formed with either -er and -est or with moreand most (or less and least). In these cases, choose the version that works best within a given sentence. Table 21.3 Sample Adjectives That Can Form Superlatives Using -er and -est or More and Most

clever

cleverer

cleverest

clever

more clever

most clever

gentle

gentler

gentlest

gentle

more gentle

most gentle

friendly

friendlier

friendliest

friendly

more friendly

most friendly

quiet

quieter

quietest

quiet

more quiet

most quiet

simple

simpler

simplest

simple

more simple

most simple

Some adjectives do not have comparative and superlative forms since the simplest form expresses the only possible form.

Sample Adjectives That Do Not Have Comparative and Superlative Forms

  • blind
  • dead
  • fatal
  • final
  • left
  • right
  • unique
  • universal
  • vertical
  • wrong

 

 


Adapted from Appendix A, “Writing for Nonnative English Speakers” in Writer’s Handbook v 1.0  used according to Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Back to: Grammar and Sentence Construction Handbook > Writing for Nonnative English Speakers