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Beginner’s Guide to Superlatives

on August 21, 2012
Adjectives Bulletin Board

Adjectives Bulletin Board (Photo credit: Evelyn Saenz)

Beginner’s Guide to Superlatives


Transcript: Learn ESL: Beginner’s Guide to Superlatives

Guide to superlatives for ESL students. 

ESL Lesson: Meaning of Superlatives

Before we discuss what a superlative is, it is important to know what an adjective is. Adjectives modify nouns (person, place or thing). A superlative is usually an adjective that compares three or more things. For example, you are at a party with some friends. One friend is 25. The other friend is 30 and you are 35. You can describe yourself as the “oldest.” Old is an adjective, but when comparing more than two things you must modify the adjective to make it a superlative. You are left with this statement, “Wow! I’m the oldest!”

ESL Lesson: Creating Superlatives

Take a simple adjective like “fast.” There is only one syllable to this word so it requires only two modifications. You add “the” before the adjective and “–est” to the end. So you are left with “the fastest.”

Other adjectives with more syllables require that you add the + most + adjective. Because saying “the most intelligentest” is difficult with so many syllables in one word, English speakers say, “the most intelligent.”

ESL Lesson: Placement of Superlatives

Superlatives always go before the noun. For example, “I have the most handsome boyfriend.” Sometimes in informal speech superlatives come after the verb “to be” and the noun is omitted. For example, “This is the best!” The key to using superlatives is having a full grasp on your adjectives. These are the words that allow you to be creative and expressive in your English. Superlatives in daily use sound like this, “This is the biggest house!” “I am the tallest person on my soccer team.” “That was the funniest movie!”

ESL Lesson: “Best” and “Worst”

The most common superlatives are two irregular adjective forms where the simple adjective “good” changes to “best” and the adjective “bad” turns to “worst.” You might hear phrases such as this: “This is the best restaurant!” Or, “I just had the worst cup of coffee!”

Also, remember that when you are comparing two nouns, use a comparative form not a superlative form. Superlatives show that you are not just comparing one thing to another thing. You are comparing one thing to a group of things. There is a difference between, “Spring is better than Winter.” And, “Summer’s the best!”

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5 responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Superlatives

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