Superlative Adjectives

“Mom’s apple pie is the best dessert at the party.”

The word best in the above sentence is an adjective that describes the word dessert. I could have said that mom’s apple pie is a good dessert or that her pie is better than Aunt Susie’s. Instead, by using the special type of adjective best I was able to let the readers know that mom’s apple pie surpassed all desserts in the group. This special type of adjective is called a superlative adjective.

What Are Superlative Adjectives?

A superlative adjective is used to compare three or more objects, people, or places. Using the superlative form takes a comparison to the highest degree possible. As shown in the beginning sentence example, the adjective best is a superlative adjective that compares three or more desserts. You can’t get better than best!

The rules for creating superlative adjectives are similar to those used when making comparative adjectives. Here they are:

For a one-syllable word simply add the suffix –est to the word. Often times it is necessary to double the final consonant.

Long-longest

Big – Biggest

If the one syllable word ends with an “e” you only need to add an -st. An example is:

Fine-finest

If a two-syllable word ends with a “y” then change the “y” to “I” and add -est.

Pretty – prettiest

Words that contain two or three syllables are preceded by the words most or least. An example would be most handsome or least perfect.

Examples of Superlative Adjectives

Perhaps the best way to get a clear idea of superlative adjectives is to show examples of regular adjectives and their comparative and superlative forms. Here is a list of several common adjectives and their degrees of comparison.

Regular Comparative Superlative
sweet sweeter sweetest
angry angrier angriest
bright brighter brightest
calm calmer calmest
cold colder coldest
cool cooler coolest
curly curlier curliest
early earlier earliest
rich richer richest
lovely lovelier loveliest
smart smarter smartest
simple simpler simplest
famous more famous most famous
immense more immense most immense
long longer longest
perfect more perfect most perfect
quick quicker quickest
thin thinner thinnest

Sentence examples containing superlative adjectives:

Michael is the oldest boy at the party.

That is the flimsiest excuse I’ve ever heard.

Katie wore the prettiest dress she owned.

Snow white was the fairest maiden of them all.

These are the thinnest pancakes I’ve ever made.

Aunt Jane was the least upset when the spilled coffee stained her tablecloth.

Rebecca was the most talented singer in the competition.

John is the smartest boy in his class.

Who is the richest man in America?

Luke threw the longest touchdown pass in high school history.

February was the coldest month of the year.

Highway 96 is the simplest route to take.

Some say Elizabeth Taylor was the most famous film star of all time.

This iced tea is the sweetest I’ve ever tasted.

Irregular Forms

There are some adjectives that have irregular forms meaning that the superlative can’t be formed by adding the suffix -est or by using the words most or least. Here are some examples:

Good–the best

Little–the least

Add–the worst

Far– the furthest

Understanding the proper use of superlative adjectives isn’t difficult once you understand the rules. Remember superlatives are used to compare three or more objects, people, or places and adding the suffix -est creates them. If the regular adjective is two or three syllables then precede it with the words most or least. You’ll have to memorize a few irregular forms but if you keep these simple rules in mind you can add a new dimension to your writing with superlative adjectives.