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|
When we compare the way in which two things are carried out in English we often use the comparative form of an adverb. To do this we most commonly precede the adverb with ‘more’.
To form the comparative of most Latin adverbs, we use the accusative singular neuter of the comparative adjective and so the ending is often ‘-ius’.
|Adjective||Comparative adjective||Adverb||Comparative adverb|
When we compare the way in which more than two things are carried out in English we often use the superlative form of an adverb. To do this we precede it with ‘most’.
To form the superlative of most Latin adverbs we replace the ‘-us’ ending of the superlative adjective with ‘-e’, so that the endings are most commonly ‘-issime’, ‘-errime’, ‘-illime’ .
|Superlative adjective||Superlative adverb|
Just as with adjectives, when it comes to translating Latin comparative and superlative adverbs, be aware that they are more flexible than those in English and can be expressed in a variety of different ways.
|facilius||more easily, rather easily, too easily|
|pulchrius||more beautifully, rather beautifully, too beautifully|
|tutius||more safely, rather safely, too safely|
|facillime||most easily, very easily, in an extremely easy way|
|pulcherrime||most beautifully, very beautifully, in an extremely beautiful way|
|tutissime||most safely, very safely, in an extremely safe way|
When ‘quam’ is used with a comparative adjective or adverb, it means ‘than’.
hoc messuagium fuit maius quam illud – English
This messuage was larger than that one
When ‘quam’ is used with a superlative adjective or adverb, it means ‘as …as possible ’.
|quam maximus||as great as possible|
|quam largissimus||as large as possible|
|quam maxime||as greatly as possible|
|quam largissime||as largely as possible|
If an adjective is irregular, then it is often the case that the corresponding adverb will be irregular too. Compare these to the irregular adjectives we have already looked at in this lesson.
Adverbs which are not linked to corresponding adjectives can also be irregular but you are not likely to come across these.
Are you confident with
- the meaning of comparative and superlative adjectives?
- the form of comparative and superlative adjectives?
- the meaning of comparative and superlative adverbs?
- the form of comparative and superlative adverbs?