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How To Form And Use French Superlatives

French superlatives

Superlatives in French are so easy! 🙂

What's a superlative?

Well, a superlative basically states absolute superiority or inferiority.

For example:

  • Happy -> Happiest
  • Loud -> Loudest
  • Small -> Smallest
  • Difficult -> Least difficult
  • Dangerous -> Most dangerous

Similar to English, French adds words to the beginning to indicate that it's superlative.

You combine the appropriate definite article with:

  • plus + an adjective/adverb to express greatest superiority (e.g. le plus loin (the farthest))

  • moins + an adjective/adverb to express greatest inferiority (e.g. la moins haute (the least high)).

FrenchEnglish
Superlative (greatest inferiority)le/la/les moins adjective  (que)the least … (than)
le moins de noun  (de)the least … (of)
le moins adverbthe least …
Superlative (greatest superiority)le/la/les plus adjective  (que)the most … (than)
le plus de noun  (de)the most …
le plus adverbthe most …

Definite articles for French superlatives

— le if the noun the adjective refers to is singular and masculine

Le plus grand arbre (sing., masc.de la forêt / The greatest tree in the forest

— la if the noun the adjective refers to is singular and feminine

La pire aventure (sing., fem.de sa vie / The worse adventure of his life

— le with an adverb

Le plus facilement possible / In the easiest way possible

— les if the noun the adjective refers to is plural (either masculine or feminine)

Les plus grandes soldes (plur., fem.de l’année / The biggest sales of the year

For adjectives and adverbs, you must use the comparative form expressing superiority to build the superlative.  For all but the six exceptions listed below (3 adjectives & 3 adverbs), this comparative form is the same as the adjective (e.g. excitant => le plus excitant / exciting => the most exciting) or adverb (e.g. souvent => le moins souvent / often => the least often) itself.

Examples:

Ils viennent d’ouvrir le plus grand magasin de Paris (They just opened the greatest store in Paris)

Elle veut la solution la plus rapide (She wants the quickest solution)

Tu voulais le prix le plus bas (You wanted the lowest price)

Irregular adjective superlatives

The superlatives of the irregular adjectives/adverbs are as follows:

bon => good

le/la/les meilleur(e)(s) (NOT le plus bon) =>  best (superlative)

mauvais => bad

le/la/les plus mauvais(e)(s) (le/la/les pire(s)) => worst (superlative)

petit => small

le/la/les plus petit(e)(s) (le/la/les moindre(s))=> smallest (superlative)

Irregular adverb superlatives:

bien => well

le mieux (NOT le plus bien)  => best (superlative)

peu => little

le/la/les moins (NOT le plus peu)   => least (superlative)

beaucoup => very, much

le/la/les plus (NOT le plus beaucoup)  => most (superlative)

Examples:

Faites le mieux que vous pouvez! (Do the best you can!)

De nous tous, c’est elle qui aime le chien le moins (Of us all, it’s her who loves the dog the least)

In case you missed it: How To Form French Comparatives


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