Forming the Comparative and Superlative Degrees in Russian

When we compare something, we use special forms of adjectives and averbs. Big becomes bigger or the biggest. Well becomes better or the best. In English it’s quite easy, right? But what about Russian? Well, it depends… It’s a quite broad topic and we need some patience.

In this lesson, we’ll learn to make comparisons in Russian without pain.

Comparative Degree

The comparative degree is one of the simplest structures in Russian. It doesn’t change according to case, gender or number.

Simple Form

Adjectives

Only the qualitative adjective can have the degrees of comparision.

If you see the word with “ее” at the end, chances are it’s a comparative form of an adjective:

быстрый (fast) – быстрее (faster)

холодный (cold) – холоднее (colder)

красивый (beautiful) – красивее (more beautiful)

вкусный (tasty) – вкуснее (tastier)

тёмный (dark) – темнее (darker)

сложный (difficult) – сложнее (more difficult)

интересный (interesting) – интереснее (more interesting)

счастливый (happy) – счастливее (happier)

But there are some exceptions:

хороший (good) – лучше (better)

плохой (bad) – хуже (worse)

маленький (small) – меньше (small)

простой (simple, easy) – проще (simpler, easier)

большой (big) – больше (bigger)

высокий (tall) – выше (taller)

молодой (young) – моложе (younger)

дорогой (expensive) – дороже (more expensive)

дешёвый (cheap) – дешевле (cheaper)

To make comparisions, we use “чем” or the genitive form of a noun.

Example sentences:

Его машина больше, чем моя. – His car is bigger than mine. (чем + nominative)

Она моложе своего мужа. – She’s younger than her husband. (the noun in the genitive case – своего мужа)

Adverbs

Almost the same thing here. Same endings:

быстро (it’s fast/fastly) – быстрее (faster)

трудно (it’s hard) – труднее (harder)

больно (it’s painful) – больнее (more painful)

But:

хорошо (well) – лучше (better)

плохо (bad/badly) – хуже (worse)

мало (little) – меньше (less)

много (much, many) – больше (more)

Complex Form

Complex comparative degree is used if an adjective preceds the noun.

Это более свежая версия. – It’s a more fresh (recent) version.

We just add the word более:

старый (old) – более старый (older)

новый (new) – более новый (newer)

быстрый (fast) – более быстрый (faster)

We don’t use adverbs with более.

более старее 

Instead we can say “гораздо старее” or “намного старее” (much older)

Superlative Degree

The superlative degree in Russian is even more simple.

Just add the word самый (masculine) or its forms – самая (feminine)/ самое (neuter)/ самые (plural) – to the adjective.

самый быстрый – the fastest

самый молодой – the youngest

самый дорогой – the most expensive

самая большая рыба – the biggest fish (рыба is a feminine noun)

Some adjectives have special superlative forms (so, we can use two forms):

хорошийсамый хорошийлучший (the best)

плохойсамый плохойхудший (the worst)

новыйсамый новыйновейший (the newest)

великийсамый великийвеличайший (the greatest)

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