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    Superlatives and Comparatives in Adverbs and Adjectives in French

    Even though rules within English and French grammar might differ, the essence remains the same. Comparatives as the name suggests is employed for distinguishing between superiority, inferiority or equality between two things mostly.

    Superlatives and Comparatives in Adverbs and Adjectives in French
    By Michelle A
    1 week ago

    French Grammar French Lessons

    Superlatives and Comparatives in Adverbs and Adjectives in French

On the other hand, superlatives, is the art of language where extremes are used for more things.

So, let’s observe a generic example:

Superlative: My Subway sandwich is the longest. (Between me and the rest of the sandwiches present, in a generic sense).

Comparative: My Subway sandwich is longer than yours. (Between you and me.)

~ Hint: Usually, comparatives in English have the word ‘than’ since there’s a comparison.

Just as English practices these two aspects in adverbs and adjectives, French does the same.

Adverbs

What are adverbs? Words that describe a verb.

You can draw a relationship of two actions or simply compare them. We divide the comparison into superior where adverbs show something being more than the other, inferior where through adverbs something is observed less than the other or equal where the two adverbs equate the subjects.

Superlatives Adverbs

  One or Two Syllables: -est is suffix More than two syllables: ‘most’ or ‘least’ prior to the word
Examples Quickest, fastest Most brightly, least high

Comparative Adverbs

  One or Two Syllables: -er is suffix More than two syllables: ‘more’ or ‘less’ prior to the word
Examples Slower, earlier Less gentle, more fluent

 

Let’s first glimpse into superlative adverbs:

  1. Superlative adverbs follow that there doesn’t have to be an agreement between the gender and quantity, so the only usage of article is ‘le.’

        – Javier marche le plus vite (Javier walks the fastest)

  1. We use ‘le plus’ to express the most of the verb.

        – Karen parle le plus doucement (Karen talks the softest)

  1. We use ‘le moins’ to express the least of the verb.

        – Elle a bu le moins (She drank the least)

Now let’s look at comparative adverbs:

  1. In some cases, we have ‘plus…que’ which in literal translation means more…than some verb.

        – Tu parles plus couramment que moi (You talk more fluent than me)

  1. In some cases, we have ‘moins…que’ which when translated comes down to less…than some verb.

        – Nous courons plus lentement qu’avant (We are running slower than before)

           ~ Here que becomes qu’ due to the presence of the first letter as vowel in the word following after.

  1. The rest of the cases use aussi…que to equate or indicate towards as…as.

         – Il peut chanter aussi bien que Greg (He can sing as well as Greg)

There are irregular comparative and superlative adverbs which need to be memorized.
Some examples are –

Peu (little)              

Comparative: moins (less)

Superlative: le moins (the least)

Beaucoup (a lot)   

Comparative: plus (more) 

Superlative: le plus (the most)

Adjectives

It is ideal that before indulging in the French part of this, acquaint yourself well with the English grammar. As a quick review, I’ve made an outline for you.

What are adjectives? Words that describe a noun or a noun phrase.

Superlatives Adjectives

  One or Two Syllables: -est is suffix More than two syllables: ‘most’ or ‘least’ prior to the word
Examples Cleanest, meanest, smoothest Most dangerous, least feminine, most amazing

Comparative Adjectives

  One or Two Syllables: -er is suffix More than two syllables: ‘more’ or ‘less’ prior to the word
Examples Cleaner, Meaner, Smoother more dangerous, more feminine, less amazing

 

In French, there are several rules that need to be followed. Don’t fear, here is an easy guideline that will have you speaking French adjectives fluently.

Let’s first look into superlative adjectives –

  1. The word ‘plus’ is used in substitution of ‘most’. Since French grammar is based on gender and quantity, this is the way of using it.

        Masculine singular – le plus

                   – Le plus joli jardin (the prettiest garden)

                   – Le restaurant le plus grand (the biggest restaurant)

        Feminine singular – la plus

                   – La rue la plus propre (the cleanest street)

        Plural (M+F) – les plus

                   – Les clés les plus brillantes (the shiniest keys)

  1.  The word ‘moins’ is used in substitution of ‘least’ again depending on the gender and quantity.

         Masculine singular – le moins

                   – Le sac le moins cher (the least expensive bag)

         Feminine singular – la moins

                   – La montagne la moins effrayante (the least scary mountain)

Plural (M+F)les moins

                   – Les bagues les moins chères (the rings the least expensive)

Hint: When it comes to determining gender and quantity – le (for masculine), la (for feminine) and les (plural) is used. The adjective is also affected such as in the last examples of les moins, we can see that petite has become petites which is feminine plural.

Now let’s dive into the comparative adjectives:

  1. In cases where a person or thing is being compared with the subject of the sentence then ‘que’ is used.

                    –  Il est plus mignon que moi (He is cuter than me)

                    –  Ils sont plus rapides que nous (They are faster than us)

                    –  Le chien de Vincent est plus intelligent que lui. (Vincent ‘s dog is smarter than him)

  1. Que can be paired with ‘aussi to state a subject being similar with another thing. So, it would be something like ‘subject’ is as ‘adjective’ as ‘another thing’.

                    –  La ville n’est pas aussi belle que la campagne (The city isn’t as beautiful as countryside.

  1. The word ‘plus’ is used for ‘more’.

                    –  Cette cerise est plus sucrée (This cherry is sweeter)

                    –  La danseuse est plus gracieuse (The dancer is more graceful)

  1. The word ‘moins’ is used for ‘less.’

                    –  Le sac est moins bleu (The bag is less blue)

                    –  Cestte chaise est moins boisée (That chair is less woody) 

French is full of exceptions, mirroring the English language. These irregular superlatives and comparatives need to be memorized since they don’t follow the same pattern.

For instance:

Bon (good)  

Comparative: meilleur (better)                    

Superlative (best)

Petit (small)    

Comparative: moindre / plus petit (smaller)   

Superlative: le moindre / le plus petit (the smallest)

French is a language that with practice will make you fall in love with it. Take out all the time you can to remember and make use of the rules and before you know it you’ll even start thinking in French!

So, Bonne chance. 

 

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