Easy Learning French

Comparatives and superlatives of adjectives - Easy Learning Grammar French

1 Making comparisons using comparative adjectives

What is a comparative adjective?
A comparative adjective in English is one with -er on the end of it or more or less in front of it, that is used to compare people or things, for example, slower, less important, more beautiful.
  • In French, to say that something is easier, more expensive and so on, you use plus (meaning more) before the adjective.
Cette question est plus facile.This question is easier.
Cette veste est plus chère.This jacket is more expensive.
  • To say something is less expensive, less complicated and so on, you use moins (meaning less) before the adjective.
Cette veste est moins chère.This jacket is less expensive.
un projet moins compliquéa less complicated plan
  • To introduce the person or thing you are making the comparison with, use que (meaning than).
Elle est plus petite que moi.She’s smaller than me.
Cette question est plus facile que la première.This question is easier than the first one.
  • To say that something or someone is as … as something or someone else, use aussi … que.
Il est aussi inquiet que moi.He’s as worried as me.
Cette ville n’est pas aussi grande que Bordeaux.This town isn’t as big as Bordeaux.

2 Making comparisons using superlative adjectives

What is a superlative adjective?
A superlative adjective in English is one with -est on the end of it or most or least in front of it, that is used to compare people or things, for example, thinnest, most beautiful, least interesting.
  • In French, to say that something or someone is easiest, prettiest, most expensive and so on, you use:
  • le plus with masculine singular adjectives
  • la plus with feminine singular adjectives
  • les plus with plural adjectives (for both masculine and feminine)
le guide le plus utilethe most useful guidebook
la question la plus facilethe easiest question
les plus grands hôtelsthe biggest hotels
les plus petites voituresthe smallest cars
  • To say that something or someone is the least easy, the least pretty, the least expensive and so on, you use:
  • le moins with masculine singular adjectives
  • la moins with feminine singular adjectives
  • les moins with plural adjectives (for both masculine and feminine).
le guide le moins utilethe least useful guidebook
Cette question est la moins facile.This question is the least easy (or the hardest).
les mois les moins agréablesthe least pleasant months
les moins belles photosthe least attractive photos
TipWhen the adjective comes AFTER the noun, you repeat the definite article (le, la or les).
les mois les moins agréablesthe least pleasant months
When the adjective comes BEFORE the noun, you do not repeat the definite article.
les moins belles photosthe least attractive photos
  • In phrases like the biggest hotel in London and the oldest person in the village, you use de to translate in.
le plus grand hôtel de Londresthe biggest hotel in London
la personne la plus âgée du villagethe oldest person in the village

3 Irregular comparative and superlative adjectives

  • Just as English has some irregular comparative and superlative forms – better instead of ‘more good’, and worst instead of ‘most bad’ – French also has a few irregular forms.
AdjectiveMeaningComparativeMeaningSuperlativeMeaning
bongoodmeilleurbetterle meilleurthe best
mauvaisbadpire plus mauvaisworsele pire le plus mauvaisthe worst
petitsmallmoindre plus petitsmaller, lesserle moindre le plus petitthe smallest, the least, the slightest
J’ai une meilleure idée.I’ve got a better idea.
Il ne fait pas le moindre effort.He doesn’t make the slightest effort.
TipChoose the right form of the adjective to match the noun or pronoun, depending on whether it is masculine or feminine, singular or plural. Don’t forget to change le to la or les too in superlatives.
Grammar Extra!bien and its comparative and superlative forms mieux and le mieux can be both adjectives and adverbs.
Il est bien, ce restaurant. (=adjective)This restaurant is good.
Elle va mieux aujourd’hui. (=adverb)She’s better today.
  • For more information on Adverbs, see Adverbs.
Key points
  • To compare people or things in French you use plus + adjective, moins + adjective or aussi … que.
  • than in comparatives corresponds to que.
  • French superlatives are formed with le/la/les plus + adjective and le/la/les moins + adjective.
  • in after superlatives corresponds to de.
  • bon, mauvais and petit have irregular comparatives and superlatives: bon/meilleur/le meilleur, mauvais/pire/le pire, petit/moindre/le moindre.

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