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Grammar: Comparative and Superlative

Comparative Adjectives

The comparative form of adjectives (fast - faster; large - larger) is formed by adding -ior / -ius to the stem. Remember: to find the stem of a third-declension adjective, you have to use the genitive form. So the comparative of carus is carior. The comparative of audax (audacis) is audacior.

The comparative adjective form is always a third declension adjective. Here is an example of how comparative adjectives decline:

Singular
Plural
masculine/feminine
neuter
carior
carius
carioris
cariori
cariorem
carius
cariore
masculine/feminine
neuter
cariores
cariora
cariorum
carioribus
cariores
cariora
carioribus

Expressing Comparison

In order to express the "than" part of a comparison (Texas is bigger than Oklahoma), you have two options in Latin:

  • ablative. you can use the ablative to express the comparison:
    Alexander omnibus fortior est. Alexander is stronger than everybody.
  • quam. you can use quam plus a noun in the same case as the noun being compared; the use of quam is required when the things being compared are not in the nominative or accusative case.
    Misericordia Jovinianus dignior est quam odio. Jovinianus is more deserving of pity than hatred.

Superlative Adjectives

To form the superlative, add -issimus to the stem. This forms a basic first/second declension adjective. The superlative of carus is carissimus. The superlative of audax is audacissimus.

Adjectives that end in -er form the superlative with -errimus. For example: miserrimus, most wretched.

Some adjectives that end in -ilis form the superative with -illimus. For example: facillimus, most simple.

Adverbs

In many cases, adverbs are neuter singular adjectives. When an adverb takes the form of a neuter singular adjective, this means that the comparative form of the adverb takes the ending -ius.

  • saepius: more often
  • propius: nearer
  • ferventius: more fervently
  • melius: better

Irregular Forms

good bonus melior optimus
bad malus peior pessimus
great magnus maior maximus
small parvus minor minimus
much multus plus plurimus
many multi plures plurimi
worthless nequam nequior nequissimus
worthy frugi frugalior frugalissimus
handy dexter dexterior dextimus

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit http://www.ou.edu/online/ for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003.  laura-gibbs@ou.edu. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM