Copyright

Superlative Form: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what the superlative form is, and how to use the superlative form to make your writing more interesting. Take a look at some examples, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition

Every day, you use words to describe how one or more specific people, places or things stands out from a larger group. For example, you might say 'James is the smartest boy in the class' to describe how James, a person, is different from the larger group of people in the class. You might also say 'Rebecca is the tallest girl on the soccer team' to describe how Rebecca differs from the other girls on the team.

You can also use these phrases to describe one or more places or things. You might say 'San Francisco is the coldest city in California' or 'that tree is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen.' You can also describe an action performed to its highest degree within a group of actions just like it by saying things like, 'Barry slept the longest' or 'Laura ran the fastest.' You likely use the superlative form every day.

The superlative form is used to describe one or more people, places or things within a larger group of people, places, or things, or to state that an action is performed to the highest degree within a group of actions just like it.

Examples

Adjectives in the superlative form are used to describe one or more people, places or things within a larger group of people, places, or things.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Katie is the prettiest girl in the neighborhood,' the superlative form of the adjective 'pretty' (prettiest) is used to describe one person, 'Katie,' within the larger group of 'girls in the neighborhood.' Likewise, in the sentence, 'Katie and Megan are the fastest girls on the track team,' the superlative is used to describe two people, 'Katie and Megan,' within the larger group of 'girls on the track team.'

Adverbs in the superlative form are used to state that an action is performed to the highest degree within a group of actions just like it.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Karen screamed the loudest of all the girls,' the superlative form is used to state that the action of screaming was performed (by Karen) to the highest degree of loudness within a group of actions just like it (the screaming of all the girls).

For adjectives with one or two syllables and one-syllable adverbs, the superlative is formed by adding the ending 'est' to the word.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Dustin is the tallest, and can reach the highest' because the adjective 'tall' is one syllable, and the adverb 'high' is one syllable, the superlative is formed by adding 'est' to form 'tallest' and 'highest.'

For adjectives and adverbs ending in 'y' change the 'y' to 'i' and then add 'est.'

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Mike and Karen left early, but Corinne left the earliest' because the adverb, 'early' ends in 'y' we change the 'y' to an 'i' and then add 'est' to form 'earliest.' Likewise, in the sentence, 'Marie is the silliest of all my cousins,' because the adjective 'silly' ends in 'y' we change the 'y' to an 'i' and add 'est' to form 'silliest.'

For adjectives with more than two syllables and adverbs ending in 'ly', the superlative is formed by placing the words 'most' or 'least' before the word.

  • For example, in the sentence, 'Jasper is the least intelligent boy in the class, but he smiles the most beautifully,' because the adjective 'intelligent' has more than two syllables, and the adverb 'beautifully' has more than two syllables, the superlative is formed by placing the word 'least' before the adjective 'intelligent,' and 'most' before the adverb 'beautifully.'

There are some important exceptions to these rules. Some adjectives and adverbs form the superlative with entirely different words. These are called the irregular superlative forms, and consist of the following: 'good/best, bad/worst, much/most, little/least' and 'far/farthest/furthest.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support