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The grammatical category which expresses the degree to which some quality is present. English adjectives and adverbs commonly distinguish three degrees: the positive (the basic form), the comparative (expressing a higher degree than is present in something else) and the superlative (expressing a maximal degree).

The comparative is formed with '-er' or with more. The superlative is formed with '-est' or with most. Short words like tall and short tend to prefer –er and –est; longer ones like beautiful and carefully take more and most.

Examples are:

  • John is tall (positive).
  • Peter is taller (comparative) than John.
  • Mike is the tallest (superlative) man I know.
  • Ann is beautiful (positive).
  • Mary is more beautiful (comparative) than Ann.
  • Alice is the most beautiful (superlative) girl in the class.

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