What's the best way to teach superlative adjectives?
We use adjectives in English when we want to describe a person, place, or thing. When we need to compare two nouns, we use comparative adjectives. And when we need to compare more than two nouns, we use superlative adjectives. The rules for using the superlative ending -est vs. the most can sometimes trip students up, but presenting the rules in a chart like the one below can help!
Use superlative adjectives to compare more than two people, places, or things.
- John is the tallest boy in the class.
- Out of all my classmates, Christina is the happiest. She's always smiling!
- I think he is the most famous actor in Hollywood.
- Her last painting is the most beautiful one she's ever done.
Some two-syllable adjectives don't have to follow the rules above. For example, we can say the friendliest OR the most friendly, and the simplest OR the most simple. Other such adjectives include angry, cruel, handsome, gentle, and quiet.
Out of all of the…
In English, we can use out of all of the + plural noun to indicate the group we’re comparing someone or something to. The word out, the second of, and/or the word all are often dropped in casual speech. Sometimes we even leave out the whole expression if it is implied.
For example, all of the following sentences are correct and have the same meaning:
- John is the oldest out of all of the students in the class.
- John is the oldest out of all the students in the class.
- John is the oldest of all of the students in the class.
- John is the oldest of all the students in the class.
- John is the oldest of the students in the class.
- John is the oldest in the class.
What about "the least"?
We can also make comparisons in English where one thing is the least of a group of things. We use the following pattern in this case: the least + Adj.
- Michelle is the least tall of all my classmates. (Note that the least sounds a bit strange with one‑syllable adjectives. It’s better to use a different superlative adjective with the same meaning, such as the shortest in this example.)
- Out of all my classmates, Juan is the least happy. He never smiles.
- The new guy on that TV show must be the least famous actor in Hollywood.
- Her first painting is the least beautiful one she’s ever done.
- Comparative Adjectives
- Comparative Adjectives – Grammar Practice Worksheets Lesson
- Comparative & Superlatives – Grammar Practice Worksheets Lesson
- Comparatives – Who Is Taller? – Basic Grammar Sentences Lesson
- Adjective Sentence Patterns & Suffixes
- Adjective Order & Punctuation
- When to Use Hyphens: Rules for Multiple-Word Adjectives
- How to Teach -ED/-ING Adjectives: 9 Simple Steps
- Look, Appear & Feel + Adjective or Adverb?
- Restrictive & Non-Restrictive Adjective Clauses
- Podcast: Grammar Stories – Adjective Clauses & Phrases