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Comparatives and superlatives belong to a special class of adjective used to compare two or more nouns. Whether you need to use a comparative or a superlative depends on the number of nouns that you are comparing.

Comparatives

Comparatives are used to compare two nouns. They usually end in –er or –re. Common comparatives include more, less, better, and worse. Here are two examples of how you might use a comparative:

I like sushi more than my brother likes sushi.

Only two people are identified in this sentence, “I” and “my brother.”

Jane did better on her final exam than she did on her midterm.

Jane received a 75 percent on her midterm exam but an 88 percent on her final exam.

Superlatives

Superlatives help you compare three or more nouns. While comparatives usually end in –er/–re, superlatives normally end in –est. The superlative forms of the comparatives listed above are most, least, best, and worst, respectively:

That was the best concert I’ve been to in years!

The speaker is comparing a particular concert to all of the other concerts he or she has attended in the past several years.

The English Island in Atlanta has the most passionate ESL teachers.

The speaker is implicitly ranking the English Island above all other English schools in the category of ESL teacher passion.

Between and Among

Because it does not follow the “–er/–re vs. –est” pattern, between/among is one of the most commonly misused comparative/superlative pairs. Between is used for two nouns, while among is used for three or more nouns. If you have trouble remembering the difference, think of the following examples:

I was standing between the goalposts when the other team scored the winning goal.

Most sports have only two goalposts.

I was among the crowd when my home team beat its rival against all odds.

A crowd is a large gathering of people.

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