Superlative adjectives

    Englische Grammatik

    How to use superlative adjectives? Adrian Doff presents and explains this key point of grammar with notes on a short dialogue. Read the dialogue and the explanations and try the exercises below.



    Lucy is reading an article about safe and dangerous cities.
    Lucy: It says here that Tokyo is the safest (1) city in (2) the world.
    Magda: How do they know that?
    Lucy: It has the lowest (3) crime rate.
    Magda: Do they say what the most dangerous (4) city is?
    Lucy: Yes, San Pedro Sula in Honduras. It has the highest murder rate in the world — three a day on average. And apparentlyoffensichtlichapparently, the safest city for women to visit is Reykjavik in Iceland.
    Magda: It may be the safest, but I bet it’s also one of the wettest (5). I went there last year, and it rained the whole time. It was the worst (6) holiday I’ve ever had (7).
    Lucy: Maybe you should go to San Pedro Sula, then. It’s probably more exciting.


    1. Lucy uses the superlative form of the adjective “safe”: the safest. It means “safer than all other cities”.

    2. After superlative adjectives, the preposition in is often used.

    3. This is another example of a superlative adjective. With short adjectives, the superlative form ends in -est (safe → safest; low → lowest).

    4. With longer adjectives (three or more syllables), the superlative is formed by adding the most (dangerous → the most dangerous).

    5. Magda describes Reykjavik as one of the wettest cities. (= There may be other cities that are just as wet.)

    6. The worst is the superlative form of bad. It is irregular (bad – worse – the worst).

    7. To talk about experiences, superlatives are often used with ever + present perfect tense (see “Beyond the basics” below).


    • The superlative of adjectives with one syllable is formed by adding -est: (high → the highest; safe → the safest; wet → the wettest).

    • The superlative of adjectives with three syllables or more is formed by adding the most: (dangerous → the most dangerous; interesting → the most interesting).

    • The superlative of adjectives with two-syllables may end in -est, or the most may be added.

    • With adjectives ending in -y, the -y is always changed to -i and -est is added: (easy → the easiest; friendly → the friendliest).

    • With adjectives ending in -ful, most is always added: (useful → the most useful; helpful → the most helpful).

    • A few adjectives are irregular: (good → the best; bad → the worst; much → the most).


    1. To emphasize an experience, superlative adjectives are often used with ever + present perfect tense:
    • She’s the most interesting person I’ve ever met.
    • It was the most exciting city I’ve ever visited.

    2. To make a superlative adjective even stronger, you can add easily or by far:

    • He’s easily the best student in the class.
    • It was by far the most expensive dish on the menu.


    Now, test your knowledge with the exercises below.


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