How To Form Italian Comparatives And Superlatives

Comparisons happen in different ways in different languages. In English, for example, we just add -er and -est endings onto the end of and adjective to form comparatives and superlatives.

In Italian, they are also easy to form, though it is not done with endings. Instead, it is done with the comparison words più and meno.

More or less

Using comparison words instead of endings is just as easy, but there is one catch: you have to decide in advance if your comparison is, obviously, more, or less. For example, you don't say faster and slower in Italian; instead, you say more fast and less fast.

So, in order to say something is faster in Italian, you say it is more fast. For example, mio fratello sta camminando più rapidamente. Likewise, to say that something is slower in Italian, you say it is less fast, like so: mia sorella sta camminando meno rapidamente.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Preferisco i peperoni più grande.
  • Il suo ombrello è più bagnato del mio.
  • Il pelo del mio cane è meno lunghi di quello del tuo.

Big, bigger, biggest

Forming the superlative in Italian can be done in one of two ways. Sometimes, simply adding the definite article specifies the superlative. For example, a larger tomato would be un pomodoro più grande, but the largest tomato would be il pomodoro più grande.

In most situations, this is clear enough. However, the ubiquitous use of articles in Italian leaves some room for uncertainty here, and sometimes one really wants that exaggerated comparison of the superlative. In this case, you can say the most of all. For example, mia mama ha una mela, e mi papa ha una mela più grande, ma io ho la mela più grande di tutte!.

Here are a few more examples:

  • La mia mela è la più rossa.
  • Il libro che lui porta è il più pesante.
  • Ho la macchina più bella di tutti!
  • Ti piace lavorare meno di me, ma a lei piace lavorare meno di tutti!

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  • Nice article, and good revision for me. Tomato should be 'pomodoro' though.What about the greatest way of forming superlatives of them all, adding '~issimo' etc to the end of words?Bravissimo!

  • Thanks. I just received that spelling correction by Twitter, as well. The problem with all this polyglot stuff is when a word is pronounced the same in two languages but spelled differently! hahaha. (Russian: помидор)And.... Crap! -issimo would have fit nicely into this post. Can't believe I didn't think of that!

  • Ah, I can see how that could be confusing! Interesting though, I assume Russian took that word from the Italian.I checked out Russian for a couple of months last year (so only got through the very basics of course), and I remember noticing a few words that I thought could have come from Italian, like библиотека (biblioteca).I do enjoy this language cross-pollination, I have to say.

  • It's all nicely explained, good job! We don't say 'capelli' for a dog, though. We say 'pelo' : 'il pelo del mio cane è più lungo di quello del tuo'.
    (' a lei piace lavorare meno di tutti', il 'si' non serve.)

  • Thank you! I appreciate the corrections, and I've updated the text.

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