Comparatives and superlatives

Here’s an overview of Russian nouns:

On separate pages you’ll find:

Comparatives

There are a few ways to use adjectives to compare subjects in Russian.

Method 1: Comparative compound form

Like in English, you simply can say a subject is more or less some normal adjective form than something else. This method is not too common in Russian, though, and you’d do well not to rely on it, however easy it is to use.

  • более = more
  • менее = less
  • чем = than

For example:

  • Татьяна более красивая женщина, чем Ольга. = Tatiana is a more beautiful woman that is Olga.
  • Владимир менее красивый мужчина, чем Евгений. = Vladimir is a less handsome man than is Eugene.

You will need to use this comparative compound form when the adjective must be declined

Method 2: Comparative adjectives

The comparative adjectival form is the most common way to compare things in Russian. To build the comparative form, simply drop the gender ending from the normal adjective form and add “ее” or “е” to the stem. This comparative adjective form is indeclinable and can also be used as a comparative adverb.

  • Париж красивее, чем Нью-Йорк. = Paris is more beautiful than New York.

(i) If the adjective stem ends in н, л, р, п, б, м, в – you add “ее:”

  • быстрый = быстрее
  • красивый = красивее
  • трудный = труднее

(ii) If the adjective stem ends in г, к, х, or д, т, ст, – the stem consonant will undergo an alternation and you add just one “е:”

For stems ending in -г, -к, -х, the final consonant is replaced by -ж, -ч, -ш, respectively.

  • дорогой = дороже
  • громкий = громче
  • тихий = тише
  • лёгкий = легче

Stems ending in ст are replaced by -щ.

  • простой = проще
  • толстый = толще

Method 3: Comparatives without чем

The third way to describe comparisons in Russian is the same as the first two methods, except that you omit the word, “чем,” and put the second noun in the genitive case. Please note that the word order of the nouns in such sentences is important.

  • Париж красивее Нью-Йорка. = Paris is more beautiful than New York.
  • Татьяна красивее Ольги. = Tatiana is a more beautiful than Olga.

Irregular comparative adjectives

близкий = ближе
большой = больше
высокий = выше
глубокий = глубже
далёкий = дальше
дешёвый = дешевле
долгий = дольше
короткий = короче
лёгкий = легче
молодой = моложе (or младше)
поздний = позже (or позднее)
ранний = раньше
редкий = реже
сладкий = слаще
старый = старше (or старее)
широкий = шире
хороший = лучше
плохой = хуже
маленький = меньше

    Superlatives

    Superlative adjectives indicate that something is the most or best at something. There are three ways to form the superlative in Russian.

    Method 1: Compound superlative

    To form the compound superlative, all you need to do is add the words “most” or “least” in front of the normal adjective form. “самый” is the most common word for this.

    • самый = most
    • наиблее = most
    • наимнее = least

    For example:

    • Он самый умный студент в классе. = He is the smartest student in the class.
    • Она самый высокий человек в комнате. = She is the tallest person in the room.

    Method 2: Simple superlative

    The simple superlative form is a modification of the normal adjective and is often used in official Russian or colloquially to express a personal opinion.

    To form the simple superlative, for most adjectives add the suffix “ейш” to the stem.

    • умный → умнейший
    • новый → новейший

    Adjectives ending in the consonants г, к, and x change to the consonants, ж, ч, and ш, respectively, and the suffix “айш” is added instead.

    • строгий → строжайший
    • высокий → высочайший
    • тихий → тишайший

    Irregular simple superlatives

    • плохой → худший
      маленький → меньший
      короткий → кратчайший
      хороший → лучший
      тяжкий → тягчайший
      дорогой → дражайший

    Method 3: Superlatives with всех

    You can also form the superlative by using the comparative adjective form and adding всех / всего (of all, of anything).

    • Он старше всех. = He is the oldest of all.
    • Это дороже всего. = This is more valuable than anything else.

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