Formation of Adjectives
In this article we will study how various types of Adjectives are formed.
There are three types of Adjectives, based on the degree of comparison:
- Positive degree
- Comparative degree
- Superlative degree
Let’s start with the Adjectives of Positive degree.
Formation of Adjectives of Positive degree
Adjectives are formed from:
- Other Adjectives
Adjectives formed from Nouns
Many Adjectives are formed from Nouns.
Adjectives formed from Verbs
Some Adjectives are formed from Verbs.
Adjectives formed from Adjectives
Some Adjectives are formed from other Adjectives.
Formation of Comparative and Superlative Degrees of Adjective
Now, let us understand how Comparative and Superlative Degrees of Adjective are formed.
Adjectives of one syllable
In most Adjectives of one syllable (and some of more than one), we add:
- er in the positive degree to form the Comparative degree and
- est in the positive degree to form the Superlative degree.
But there are various exceptions to this general rule.
When the adjective of positive degree ends in e, only r and st are added.
When the adjective of positive degree ends in ‘y’, preceded by a consonant, the ‘y’ is changed into ‘i’ before adding ‘er’ and ‘est’.
If a vowel is present before ‘y’, only ‘er’ and ‘est’ should be added.
Adjectives of two or more syllables
To form the Comparative and Superlative degrees of adjectives of two or more syllables, in general we put more/less and most/least before the positive form.
Adjectives with two syllables that are only used (or are most commonly used) with more/less and most/least are:
participle adjectives, i.e. two-syllable adjectives ending in ing or ed (e.g. pleased, worried, boring, surprised)
two-syllable adjectives ending in -ful and -less (e.g. careful, useful, careless, hopeless)
many other two-syllable adjectives (e.g. afraid, alike, alert, ashamed, alone, aware; cautious, certain, complex, confident, eager, exact, famous, foolish, formal, frequent, modern, recent)
But as usual, there are exceptions to this too. In fact, most other adjectives with two syllables (than those listed above) can take two forms.
Adjectives without comparative or superlative forms
There are certain adjectives that cannot be compared. So, these adjectives do not have comparative or superlative forms.
For example: square, round, circular, perfect, excellent, eternal, universal, unique, extreme, major, minor, equal, interior, exterior, ulterior, empty, excellent, chief, entire, complete, final, last, triangular, eternal, everlasting, ideal, absolute, impossible and supreme.
These adjectives already have a comparative or superlative meaning. So, they are rarely used with -er/-est or more/less/most/least.
This is a case of most extreme malnutrition. (incorrect)
This is a case of extreme malnutrition. (correct)
She is the most unique character in this movie. (incorrect)
She is a unique character in this movie. (correct)
This headset is more inferior to that. (incorrect)
This headset is inferior to that. (correct)
We know that a thing cannot be more square, more round, more perfect. But there are some exceptions where we do use them.
All ministers are equal but some ministers are more equal than others.
This is the most perfect specimen I have seen.
Adjectives used in only positive and superlative degree
Some adjectives only have positive and superlative degrees. They do not have a comparative degree form.
Let’s see some of these adjectives.
Extra Books and Tools
Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the needs of most of the aptitude exams, but it may also feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer books over websites. So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.
1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.
Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin
2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.
Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar
Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar
Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings
Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar
So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?
We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.
So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.
* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?
* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open app, type and then search. Boring!
The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, oh man! No chance!
That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.
If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇