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Lesson 8: Comparison of adjectives and adverbs - part 1 | 1 2

Adjectives

Comparative

When we compare two things in English we often use the comparative form of an adjectiveView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window. To do this we add '-er' to the end of the adjective or precede it with 'more'

For example:

Adjective Comparative
beautiful more beautiful
pretty prettier

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.

For example:

The comparative for pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum 'beautiful' is pulchrior (masculine), pulchrior (feminine) and pulchrius (neuter) 'more beautiful'.

Handy hint

Apart from the nominative singular ending of '-ior' or '-ius', these forms decline like third declension nounsView this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window.

Superlative

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'.

Adjective Superlative
beautiful the most beautiful
pretty prettiest

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 stemView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window of the superlative depends on the type of adjective.

For example:

The superlative for pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum 'beautiful' is pulcherrimus (masculine), pulcherrima (feminine), pulcherrimum (neuter) 'the most beautiful'. These forms decline like ‘bonus, -a, -um’View this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window.

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.

For example:

Adjective Meaning
longus, longa, longum long
miser, misera, miserum wretched
durus, dura, durum hard
Comparative Meaning
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)
Superlative Meaning
longissimus, longissima, longissimum the longest (very long)
miserrimus, miserrima, miserrimum the most wretched (very wretched)
durissimus, durissima, durissimum the hardest (very hard)

Irregular adjectives

Some adjectives are irregularView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window in the way they form their comparative and superlative forms, for example:

Adjective Comparative Superlative Meaning
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 plusView this term in the Grammar table - this link opens in a new window plurimus-ima-imum much, more, the most

Handy hint

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.

For example:

Adjective Comparative Superlative
idoneus   suitable magis idoneus   more suitable maxime idoneus   most suitable

Checklist

Are you confident with:

  • The meaning of comparative and superlative adjectives?
  • The form of comparative and superlative adjectives?
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