Grammar Tips: Superlative Adjectives
  • 4-minute read
  • 25th April 2023

Grammar Tips: Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives (not to be confused with comparative adjectives) are the best adjectives in English! In this article, we’ll break down what superlative adjectives are and how to use them, looking at some examples along the way.

Intro to Superlative Adjectives (For Beginners and Novices)

Superlative adjectives are used when something or someone standouts in some way. For example, “She’s the brightest student in the school,” or “He’s the slowest runner on the team.”

How To Make an Adjective Into a Superlative Adjective

A superlative is based on how many syllables are in an adjective. For example, “clean” is one syllable, so to make it a superlative adjective, we add -est to the end of the word, “cleanest.”

One-Syllable Words








When a word has two syllables, we add “most” before the adjective to make it a superlative. The exception is when the adjective is two syllables and ends in -y. In these cases, we drop the -y and add -iest to make it a superlative adjective. Have a look at the table below for some examples.

Two-Syllable Words

most modern

most famous

most careful


most prepared

Two-Syllable Words Ending in -y






Finally, for words with three or more syllables, you add “most” before the adjective, as with these examples.

Three or More Syllables in a Word

most beautiful

most important

most generous

most wonderful


most auspicious

Of course, this wouldn’t be English grammar without some exceptions! Here’s a list of irregular adjectives that don’t follow the above superlative adjective rules – they just need to be memorized.

Irregular Adjectives and Their Superlatives





old (the age of someone)



“The” + Superlative Adjective + Noun

There are a few ways to use superlatives in a sentence. The first is when the superlative adjective comes before a noun. In these cases, we add “the” before it. Here are some examples:

He’s the fastest runner.

I went to the best cafe this weekend.

I had the worst day today.

This is the biggest bowl I have.

Possessive Pronoun + Superlative Adjective + Noun

Another common use of superlative adjectives is with a possessive pronoun, such as my, his, hers, theirs, our, etc. In this case, we don’t use “the” before the superlative adjective. Let’s look at the following examples:

This is my best work so far.

He had his worst performance this weekend.

Her prettiest cake is on display in the window.

So far, we’ve covered the basics of superlative adjectives so you can feel confident using them in your speech or writing. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at some more advanced uses of superlative adjectives in English.

A Closer Look at Superlatives (For Experts)

Superlative Adjectives Without a Noun

When a superlative adjective isn’t followed by a noun (usually placed at the end of a sentence), “the” is optional. Take a look at the example sentences below.

She’s most beautiful.
She’s the most beautiful.

However, if the superlative adjective comes directly before a noun (like in the examples below), we must use “the” before it.

She’s most beautiful woman.
She’s the most beautiful woman.

Superlative Adverbs

While superlative adjectives are used to compare nouns, superlative adverbs are used to compare verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Keep in mind that one word can function as both a superlative adverb and a superlative adjective. The difference is in how the word is used in a sentence.

For example, in “Of all the runners, John ran fastest,” “fastest” is a superlative adverb. However, if we say, “John is the fastest runner,” “fastest” is a superlative adjective.

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How To Use Superlative Adverbs in a Sentence

Superlative adverbs are used just like superlative adjectives in a sentence. The only thing to look out for is adverbs that end in -ly, in which case we use “most” or “least” before them.

Of all the dancers, Rachel performed the most gracefully.

Using “the” before a superlative adverb is optional:

John was (the) least prepared for the exam of all the students.

My daughter reads (the) fastest.

I like strawberries (the) best.

Superlative Adjectives and Comparing Situations

So far, we’ve looked at how to use superlative adjectives and adverbs when comparing multiple things or people. However, we can also use them to compare different situations. When using superlatives to compare situations, we usually don’t use “the” beforehand. Let’s consider some example sentences.

Owls are most active at night.

(Owls are more active at night compared to the morning or afternoon.)

Owls are the most active at night.

(Owls are more active at night compared to other animals, such as cows.)

Washington state is the most depressing.

(Washington state is more depressing than any other state.)

Washington state is most depressing during rainy months.

(Washington state is more depressing during rainy months compared to other months/seasons.)

Iced coffee is the best.

(Iced coffee is better than another drink).

Iced coffee is best drunk on a hot summer’s day.

(Iced coffee is better to drink on a hot summer’s day compared to another day, such as a cold winter’s day.)


Now that you’ve read this article, you’re most prepared to use superlatives in your day-to-day writing and speaking! While there are many rules and exceptions to using superlatives in English, with time and practice (and maybe a few mistakes along the way!), you will feel confident using them.

Interested in English grammar? Check out our Grammar Tips page to read more.

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