Advanced Italian: How To Use Superlatives

We've already looked at how to form comparisons in Italian, as well as a few irregular comparative forms. Today I want to suggest one more way to convey the thought, and add a few notes on usage.

Augmentative suffixes

The Italian language allows us imply an additional degree of a particular adjective or adverb — a certain _extra-_ness, if you will — by using an augmentative suffix.

A while back, we looked at augmentatives briefly, but let's recap:

-onelibro (book)
casa (house)
librone (heavy book)
casone (big house)
-issimolargo (wide)
bene (well)
larghissimo (extra-wide)
benissimo (very well)
lentamente (slowly)lentissimamente (super-slowly)

Examples:

Che bellissima macchina!

Guarda! Ho trovato una grandissima mela!

Loro vendono economicissimi biglietti per l'opera.

For adverbs, the -issimo gets slipped into the word, before the -mente ending:

Lei parla rapidissimamente!

La squadra ha vinto facilissimamente la partita.

Interesting uses of the superlative

There are several interesting ways in which superlatives can be used. Combinations of adjectives can be used for emphasis, similarly to the English construction:

Lui è il migliore di migliore!

In Italian, this feels less limited to me, as I can use it for descriptions I wouldn't use in English.

Il mio insegnante è il più vecchio di vecchio.

You can use meno to describe something not quite superlative.

La nostra camera in hotel era meno il superiore.

Sometimes adjectives and adverb can be expressed in a superlative manner by repeating.

La sua moglie è minore minore della mia.

Parla piano piano.

Do you know any other interesting ways of using superlatives in Italian? Or maybe there are some fascinating quirks about superlatives in another language you are studying? Leave some comments and share!


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