BBC Home
Explore the BBC


Teachers: Literacy: Word

Last Updated: Friday December 03 2004 13:57 GMT

Comparatives and superlatives


Image: Gregory S. Paul
Fossil hunters have found bones from the biggest dinosaur ever to be discovered in the UK.

Students identify comparatives and superlatives and learn their function.

Learning aims

  • Learn spelling patterns for comparatives and superlatives.
  • Rewrite adjectives to form comparatives and superlatives.

    Ice breaker

    Image: Gregory S. Paul
    Read out this story to the class.

    Ask students:

  • What is special about this dinosaur skeleton? It is the biggest found in the UK.
  • What is a sauropod? A long-necked type of dinosaur which lived up to 130 million years ago.
  • What is special about sauropods? They are the biggest and heaviest group of dinosaurs in existence.
  • What is special about argentinasaurus? It is the world's biggest and heaviest dinosaur.

    Ask students to draw up a table which is three columns across and four rows down:
    Column headings: sauropod, argentinasaurus
    Row headings: where found, length, weight

    Students complete the table.

    Using the information gathered they complete these sentences:

  • The argentinasaurus found in South America is ______ and ______ than the sauropod found in the Isle of Wight.
  • The sauropod found in the Isle of Wight is ______ and _______ than the South American argentinasaurus.
  • The sauropod found in the Isle of Wight is the ______ in the UK.
  • The argentinasaurus found in South America is the _______ in the world.


  • longer and heavier
  • shorter and lighter
  • biggest
  • biggest

    Warm up

    Explain to students that longer and heavier are comparatives which mean more than.
    E.g. more long = longer and more light = lighter.

    Point out that to form the comparative you add er to the adjective.
    E.g. long + er = longer.

    If adding er looks or sounds odd, use more to form the comparative.
    E.g. intelligent + er = intelligenter. This sounds odd, so use more intelligent.

    Explain to students that biggest is a superlative which means the most.
    E.g. the most big = biggest.

    Superlatives usually use the because there is only ever one superlative.

    Point out that to form the superlative you add est to the adjective.
    E.g. big = est = biggest.

    If adding est looks or sounds odd, use the most to form the superlative.
    E.g. beautiful + est = beautifulest. This sounds odd so use the most beautiful.

    Explain to students that when you add er or est, sometimes you have to change the spelling of the adjective.
    E.g. big + extra g + est - to keep the g sound of big.
    E.g. heavy - y + i + er - in the same way you would drop the y and add i to turn fly into flies.

    Dodos and pigeons
    Print out copies of this worksheet for each student.

    Ask students to circle the single comparative and four superlatives in the worksheet and decide what is being compared in each case.


  • They were bigger than turkeys. Dodos are being compared to turkeys.


  • The dodo, the most famous, flightless bird. The dodo is being compared with and all other flightless birds.
  • The dodo... is the closest relation to the pigeon. The dodo is being compared to all other relatives of the pigeon.
  • Scientists took the smallest bits of DNA. These bits are being compared to all the other DNA parts.
  • They discovered it was most similar to the Nicobar pigeon. The Nicobar pigeon is being compared to all the other species.

    Main activity

    Print out a copy of this worksheet for each student.

    The class rewrite the adjectives to form comparatives and superlatives.

    Answers for the worksheet:
    1. fuller
    2. more intelligent
    3. greyer
    4. more trustworthy
    5. more common
    6. sadder
    7. hotter
    8. the luckiest
    9. the toughest
    10. the most beautiful
    11. easiest
    12. greenest
    13. tiniest
    14. busiest
    15. youngest

    Extension activity

    The class search through their reading books for examples of comparatives and superlatives and note down the things that are being compared.

    Students find the comparatives and superlatives in the story Eminem beats the rest to top US R&B awards.


    Recap on the function of comparatives and superlatives:

    Comparatives are used to compare one thing with another.

    Superlatives compare one thing with the rest of their kind, to say they are the most ______.
    E.g. Superman is the mightiest man in the universe.

    For hundreds more news-based lesson plans, click on Teachers on the left hand side of this page.

  • Related Lessons

    BBC Homepage >> | CBBC Homepage >>

    Meet the Team | Help | Contact Us | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy