An adjective is a word that describes the quality, state or action of a noun.
Comparative and superlative
If we see a house, we want to say if it’s big or small, pretty or ugly, cheap or expensive, etc. We use adjectives to describe the house. And we also want to talk about that house in relation to other houses. There are two ways we can do this:
- comparative: making a simple comparison, judging two items with a certain category like height, sadness, goodness, etc.
- superlative: saying one thing is the most or best.
Things to watch:
- number of syllables (a syllable is a string of sounds that divides the word into one, two, three, or more blocks)
- doubling the letter
- stress (on the second syllable)
- ending (with –le, -er, -ow, -y)
- y becomes i
If the adjective has one syllable, the rules are simple: you add –(e)r for the comparative and –(e)st for the superlative.
Note how the “t” in wet doubles. This happens because "weter" sounds different, not like "wet" at all!
Two or more syllables
For adjectives with two syllables, the picture is more difficult. If the adjective has two syllables AND stress is one the second syllable, the rules are the same as if it had one syllable. If the adjective has two syllables AND ends with –le, -er, -ow, or –y, the rules are the same as if it had one syllable.
Adjectives ending in –y change that letter into “i”, just like "pretty" in the table.
Polite has stress on the second syllable.
All remaining adjectives with two syllables and adjectives with three or more syllables don’t get –(e)r or –(e)st added. Instead, the comparative and superlative are put in front with an extra word: more or most.
|splendid||more splendid||most splendid|
|terrible||more terrible||most terrible|
|beautiful||more beautiful||most beautiful|
Splendid follows this rule, because it has stress on the first syllable, not the second.
Some adjectives don’t follow the rules, but have special forms. There’s no other way to learn them than to memorize them.
Adverbs are similar to adjectives. Adjectives say something about the noun, for example: The house (noun) is big (adjective). Adverbs say something about the verb, for example: Graham helps (verb) his grandmother gladly (adverb).
Adverbs can often be created by adding -ly to an adjective.