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Using Comparatives and Superlatives

 

Techniques > Use of language > Parts of speech > Using adjectives > Using Comparatives and Superlatives

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Use comparatives (e.g. 'higher') to highlight the differences between things.

Use positive superlatives (e.g. 'highest') to put things on a pedestal, showing they cannot be beaten. Use negative superlatives (e.g. 'worst') for the reverse effect, denouncing something as absolutely undesirable.

You often do not need to include what is compared against, leaving it to common sense or the general imagination.

Example

This is a bigger car. (comparative)

This is the biggest car we have. (superlatives)

That is the worst possible thing you can do. (negative superlative)

Our cars are simply the best. (omitted noun)

Discussion

Adjectives may be used used to compare, using comparative adjectives (often ending in -er) and superlative adjectives (often ending in -est).

Comparatives play to our tendency to make decisions based on comparing the item in question against a benchmark (which may be relatively positive or negative) of some kind.

Note how comparisons may be used without saying what you are comparing against. Advertisers often make use of this, promoting the best, biggest, whitest, shiniest products. It sounds good and it is understood that they are talking about their competitors, but without a direct comparison, they can circumvent any litigative problems.

See also

Decisions

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