Degree of comparison
From Hull AWE
- the positive, for example big
- the comparative (bigger)
- the superlative (biggest).
A grammatical accuracy much respected by academics is to use the comparative form when comparing two; and, for more than two, the superlative. Practical examples:
- 'She is bigger than her brother' (the comparative, to compare two children), but 'She is the biggest in the family' (the superlative. This is correct as long as there are more than two.)
- 'Both candidates are able, but X works harder' (comparative); but 'He is the hardest working in the class' and 'I like apples better than pears, but I like oranges best of all'.