Comparatives and Superlatives

compare
 
Comparative and superlative adjectives in Polish have a few things in common with those in English. Firstly, they are relatively easy to form with a suffix (or prefix); secondly, there are a few irregular cases (just like good, better and best) and lastly, there are some comparatives and superlatives which can’t be formed with a suffix or prefix, but require an extra word (like more beautiful and most beautiful).
 

Comparatives Formed with Suffixes

 
Comparatives are usually formed simply by adding szy / sza / sze to the stem of the word for masculine, feminine and neuter respectively. Hence,

ciekawy, ciekawa, ciekawe (interesting) becomes ciekawszy, ciekawsza, ciekawsze (more interesting).
gruby, gruba, grube (thick/fat) becomes grubszy, grubsza, grubsze (thicker/fatter).

…but if the stem ends in k, ok, or ek, these endings are dropped before adding szy / sza / sze. For example:

ciężki, ciężka, ciężkie (heavy) becomes cięższy, cięższa, cięższe (heavier).
głęboki, głęboka, głębokie (deep) becomes głębszy, głębsza, głębsze (deeper).

…and if the stem ends in n or , then instead add iejszy / iejsza / iejsze. E.g.:

pikantny, pikantna, pikantne (spicy) becomes pikantniejszy, pikantniejsza, pikantniejsze (spicier).
potężny, potężna, potężne (powerful) becomes potężniejszy, potężniejsza, potężniejsze (more powerful).
 

Stem Changes

 
Sometimes, the stem of the word changes before adding the suffixes above. Some of the most common, shown in the masculine form only, are as follows:

gorący (hot) -> gorętszy (hotter)
drogi (expensive) -> droższy (more expensive)
tani (cheap) -> tańszy (cheaper)
wczesny (early) -> wcześniejszy (earlier)
dojrzały (ripe) -> dojrzalszy (riper)
miły (nice) -> milszy (nicer)
wesoły (cheerful) -> weselszy (more cheerful)
niski (short) -> niższy (shorter)
 

Irregular Comparatives

 
There are a few comparatives that don’t follow the rules above at all and, unfortunately, they are important enough to warrant learning them:

dobry (good) -> lepszy (better)
zły (bad) -> gorszy (worse)
duży (big) -> większy (bigger)
mały (small) -> mniejszy (smaller)

 

Comparatives Formed with Bardziej and Mniej

 
Some adjectives can’t be turned into comparatives using the suffixes described above, and require the use of bardziej (more).
 

 
Generally speaking, longer words and words borrowed from English tend to fit in this category, but be aware that some shorter words do too, so you’ll need to learn these as you come across them:

nowoczesny, nowoczesna, nowoczesne (modern) -> bardziej nowoczesny/nowoczesna/nowoczesne (more modern).
 

Superlatives

 
barrels
 
Superlatives are thankfully easier to form. Where the comparative is formed using a suffix, simply add the prefix naj to the start of the comparative. Where bardziej is used, swap this for najbardziej instead. For example:
 

Adjective (m) Comparative Superlative
kwaśny (sour) kwaśniejszy (more sour) najkwaśniejszy (most sour)
szybki (fast) szybszy (faster) najszybszy (fastest)
efektywny (effective) bardziej efektywny (more effective) najbardziej efektywny (most effective)

 

Less and Least

 
To express less and least, just as in English, you can do away with suffixes and prefixes and just use mniej or najmniej before the adjective.

Listen to mniej in the expression mniej więcej (more or less):
 

 

Forming Sentences

 
To compare two things, you have a choice of niż + nominative or od + genitive. The two are equivalent, except that the first is easier if you haven’t yet got to grips with the genitive! For example:

Londyn jest większy niż Warszawa (London is bigger than Warsaw)
London jest większy od Warszawy (London is bigger than Warsaw)

To express more and more, use coraz with the comparative:

Chleb jest coraz droższy (bread is more and more expensive).

You can use im and tym to form sentences like the bigger the better (im większy tym lepszy).

And finally use tak and jak to say two things are equivalent – no comparative needed:

Mój nowy samochód jest tak drogi jak twój (my new car is as expensive as yours).
 

Quiz

 

 




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One thought on “Comparatives and Superlatives

  1. Thank you so much for your site! I come here to keep in touch with this awesome language, which I’ve been learning two months ago for three weeks in one of language schools in Poland (www.polishcourses.com). It was superintensive course, so I need to be in touch with it now so that I won’t forget it.

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