When we compare two things in English we often use the comparative form of an adjective. To do this we add '-er' to the end of the adjective or precede it with 'more'
To form the comparative of most Latin adjectives we use the ending '-ior' for the masculine and feminine forms and the ending '-ius' for the neuter form.
The comparative for pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum 'beautiful' is pulchrior (masculine), pulchrior (feminine) and pulchrius (neuter) 'more beautiful'.
Apart from the nominative singular ending of '-ior' or '-ius', these forms decline like third declension nouns.
When we compare more than two things in English we often use the superlative form of an adjective. To do this we add '-est' to the end of the adjective or precede it with 'most'.
|beautiful||the most beautiful|
To form the superlative of most Latin adjectives we use the ending '-imus' for the masculine form, '-ima' for the feminine form, and '-imum' for the neuter form. The formation of the central stem of the superlative depends on the type of adjective.
The superlative for pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum 'beautiful' is pulcherrimus (masculine), pulcherrima (feminine), pulcherrimum (neuter) 'the most beautiful'. These forms decline like ‘bonus, -a, -um’.
When it comes to translating Latin comparatives and superlatives, be aware that their meanings are more flexible than those in English and can be expressed in a variety of different ways.
|longus, longa, longum||long|
|miser, misera, miserum||wretched|
|durus, dura, durum||hard|
|longior, longior, longius||longer (rather long, too long, quite long)|
|miserior, miserior, miserius||more wretched (rather wretched, too wretched, quite wretched)|
|durior, durior, durius||harder (rather hard, too hard, quite hard)|
|longissimus, longissima, longissimum||the longest (very long)|
|miserrimus, miserrima, miserrimum||the most wretched (very wretched)|
|durissimus, durissima, durissimum||the hardest (very hard)|
Some adjectives are irregular in the way they form their comparative and superlative forms, for example:
|bonus-a-um||melior-ior-ius||optimus-ima-imum||good, better, the best|
|magnus-a-um||maior-ior-ius||maximus-ima-imum||great, greater, the greatest|
|malus-a-um||peior-ior-ius||pessimus-ima-imum||bad, worse, the worst|
|parvus-a-um||minor-us||minimus-ima-imum||small, smaller, the smallest|
|multus-a-um||plus||plurimus-ima-imum||much, more, the most|
The comparative forms of most adjectives that end in a vowel plus ‘-us’, such as ‘idoneus, a, -um’ ‘suitable’, are made by adding the word ‘magis’ to the adjective in question to form the comparative and the word ‘maxime’ to form the superlative.
|idoneus suitable||magis idoneus more suitable||maxime idoneus most suitable|