Superlatif

French Superlative

Le Superlatif refers to comparisons between two or more items when one comes above all the others, such as the most/the least.

The forms of superlatives vary depending on whether you're comparing adjectives, verbs, adverbs or nouns. There are also differences in form betwee English and French.

 

1) Superlative of adverbs

To compare adverbs (e.g. slowly, fast, nicely) in French, you use the following structures:

English French

the most <adverb>
the<adverb>-est

le plus <adverbe>
the least <adverb> le moins <adverbe>

For example:

Il parle le plus vite. - He speaks the fastest.

Sandra s'habille le moins élégamment du groupe. - Sandra dresses the least elegantly in the group.

Note: to introduce a contextual group (e.g. in my class, in the world, etc.), use de + group 

E.g.  Le plus beau du monde entier  - The most handsome in the whole world.

  

2) Superlative of adjectives

To compare adjectives (e.g. pretty, interesting, lazy) in French, you use the following structures:

English French

the most <adjective>
the <adjective>-est

le/la/les plus <adjectif>
the least <adjective> le/la/les moins <adjectif>

ATTENTION: The adjective and the definite article (le/la/les) have to agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to.

For example:

La princesse était la plus belle de toutes.
 - The princess was the most beautiful of all.

Le chat est le plus agile animal.
Le chat est l'animal le plus agile.
 - The cat is the most agile animal.

Ce sont les plus grands garçons de ma classe.
Ce sont les garçons les plus grands de ma classe. - They are the tallest boys in my class.

Note that you can place the superlative either before or after the noun. In the latter case, you must repeat the definite article.

 

3) Superlative of verbs

To compare actions (e.g., run, talk, go) in French, you use the following structures:

English French

<verb> the most

<verbe> le plus
<verb> the least <verbe> le moins

For example: 

C'est Thomas qui mange le plus dans ma famille. - Thomas is the one who eats the most in my family.

Tu es la personne que je déteste le moins. - You're the person I hate the least.

 

4) Superlative of nouns

To compare nouns (e.g. pen, cat, courage) in French, you use the following structures:

English French

the most <thing/s>

le plus de <chose/s>
the least <thing/s> le moins de <chose/s>

For example: 

Je suis celui qui a le plus de jouets de tous mes amis. - I'm the one who has the most toys in all my friends.

Thomas a bu le moins de vin. - Thomas drank the least wine.

 

5) Irregular superlatives

Some adjectives and adverbs have irregular superlative forms to express 'the most'. However, they remain regular when expressing 'the least':

original form superlative form English
bien (adverb) le mieux well -> the best
bon(ne) (adjective) le/la/les meilleur(e)(s) good -> the best
mal (adverb) le pire
badly -> the worst
mauvais(e) (adjective) le/la/les pire(s)
bad -> the worst

Notes 

   * Because meilleur is an adjective, it needs to agree with the noun it refers to.

   * In English you use the best for both the adverb 'well' and the adjective 'good'; however, in French you have two distinct forms: le mieux and le/la/les meilleur(e)(s)

   * To express the worst in French, you can use either the regular superlatives le/la/les plus mauvais(e)(s) or le plus mal, or the irregular forms le/la/les pire(s) or le pire.

For example:

C'est lui qui danse le plus mal. - He's the one who dances the worst.

Aurélie est la meilleure en maths. - Aurélie is the best at maths.

Tu sens mauvais mais c'est elle qui sent le plus mauvais. - You smell bad but she's the one who smells the worst.
Tu sens mauvais mais c'est elle qui sent le pire

BUT    

Il est celui qui compte le moins bien. - He's the one who counts the least well.

Aurélie est la moins bonne en maths. - Aurélie is the least good at maths.

 

 

Note that in all cases, you will use de + group to introduce a contextual group (e.g. in my class, in the world, etc.)

E.g.  Le plus beau du monde entier  - The most handsome in the whole world.

 

 

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