Grammatica

Superlative adjectives

Part 1: The forms of superlative adjectives

Most graded adjectives have a superlative form. It is used to indicate that someone or something has more of a quality than anyone or anything else.In most cases, the superlative is formed either by adding -est to the end of the adjective, or by using most before the adjective. Usually, when the adjective has one syllable, the superlative is formed using -est, as in smallest. When the adjective has two syllables but ends in -y, the superlative is also formed using -est, as in happiest. With most other adjectives of two syllables, the superlative is formed using most. With adjectives of three syllables or more, the superlative is formed using most, as in most important.The adjectives good and bad have irregular superlative forms: best and worst. Old has an irregular superlative, eldest, as well as a regular one. The adjectives northern, southern, eastern, and western have superlatives formed with -most, as in northernmost, southernmost and so on. A few adjectives have only a superlative form in one or more senses: furthest, latest, least, and nearest.Some adjectives have two forms of superlative, one using -est and one using most. The most frequent of these are:
  • angry
  • busy
  • clever
  • common
  • cruel
  • gentle
  • handsome
  • hungry
  • likely
  • mature
  • narrow
  • obscure
  • pleasant
  • polite
  • remote
  • shallow
  • simple
  • stupid
  • subtle
  • All adjectives that have a superlative form, however it is made, have a second superlative form that consists of least and the adjective, as in least grand, least important, and least simple. This form is used in comparisons to indicate that someone or something has less of a quality than anyone or anything else.
    Note that the combination of most and an adjective does not have a superlative meaning. In the examples below, most is a grading adverb meaning 'extremely'.
    I was most grateful for your assistance.
    My walks are a most important part of my life and my walking stick is a necessity.

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