Better Comparitives and the Best Superlatives

Comparitives and Superlatives are the posh grammar terms for the words we use to describe the level to which somthing has a quality. So a Comparitive as the word suggests "compares" one thing with another; if one item is tall, then another may be taller in comparison. The word taller is a comparitive. A superlative is in referance to the most extreme posibility of the quality in question. Hence the tallest item is the superlative of several tall ones.

In Greek these relative descriptions can be very easily formed using the word πιο/ΠΙΟ which means more. So a taller glass, can be thought of as a more tall glass i.e. ενα πιο ψήλο ποτήρι/ΕΝΑ ΠΙΟ ΨΗΛΟ ΠΟΤΗΡΙ . This sounds strange in English but in Greek this construction can be use for all adjectives. There is also a way of Greek version of the single word comparative, which is normally formed by taking the neuter verion of the adjective (so ψήλος/ΨΗΛΟΣ rather than ψήλο/ΨΗΛΟ or ψήλη/ΨΗΛΗ) and adding a τερος/ΤΕΡΟΣ ending (or τερο/ΤΕΡΟ or τερη/ΤΕΡΗ for neuter and feminine words respectively). The vowel to stress changes in most case too, so ψήλος/ΨΗΛΟΣ for tall becomes ψηλότερος/ΨΗΛΟΤΕΡΟΣ for taller. This does not work for all adjectives[1] for example τεμπέλης/ΤΕΜΠΕΛΗΣ (which means lazy) cannot take the form τεμπελήτερος/ΤΕΜΠΕΛΗΤΕΡΟΣ as there is no such word in Greek, you have to use πιο τεμπέλης/ΠΙΟ ΤΕΜΠΕΛΗΣ. This is similar to english if you think about the word important, somthing may be more important, but cannot be "importanter". You might get away with being understood, but you would sound a complete idiot.

Forming the superlatives is similar to the comparitives in that there two ways to form the superlative which could be thought of as being the most tall or as tallest. The first of these is the use πιο/ΠΙΟ again but to add the definite article in front so to follow the progression from tall to taller and finally the tallest, in Greek this would be:

If in Greek a one word comparitive can be used then it is also possible to use the one word form of the superlative, which is formed by adding -τατος/ΤΑΤΟΣ to the end of the adjective in the same way as τερος/ΤΕΡΟΣ was used in the comparative. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, with the superlative this one word version is not an alternative to using πιο/ΠΙΟ, but has a slightly different meaning[2]. To use πιο/ΠΙΟ with the definite article is used to indicate somthing is the ultimate in a group of other, for example the tallest glass of the ones on the shelf, but the single word superlative is used to indicate an excessive or impressive atribute. In english you might phrase it that a glass might be a most tall glass to say that it is taller than you would expect a glass to be, but you are not necessarily comparing it to any others. This, in Greek, would be ενα ψηλότατος ποτήρι/ΕΝΑ ΨΗΛΟΤΑΤΟΣ ΠΟΤΗΡΙ.

Following are examples of some adjectives that can take one word comparatives and superlatives. They are all shown in their neuter form and note that many of these are irregular where ending vowels change when either τερο/ΤΕΡΟ or τατο/ΤΑΤΟ is added. For an example look at μεγάλο/ΜΕΓΑΛΟ where the final o/Ο is changed to ή/Η for the comparative and the superlative is completely irregular.

English adjective
Greek Adjective
Small μικρό ΜΙΚΡΟ μικρότερο ΜΙΚΡΟΤΕΡΟ μικρότατο ΜΙΚΡΟΤΑΤΟ
Big μεγάλο ΜΕΓΑΛΟ μεγαλύτερο ΜΕΓΑΛΥΤΕΡΟ μέγιστο ΜΕΓΙΣΤΟ
Good καλό ΚΑΛΟ καλήτερο ΚΑΛΗΤΕΡΟ κάλιστο ΚΑΛΙΣΤΟ
Cheap φθηνό ΦΘΗΝΟ φθηνότερο ΦΘΗΝΟΤΕΡΟ φθηνότατο ΦΘΗΝΟΤΑΤΟ
Expensive ακριβό ΑΚΡΙΒΟ ακριβότερο ΑΚΡΙΒΟΤΕΡΟ ακριβότατο ΑΚΡΙΒΟΤΑΤΟ
Tasty νόστιμο ΝΟΣΤΙΜΟ νοστιμότερο ΝΟΣΤΙΜΟΤΕΡΟ νοστιμότατο ΝΟΣΤΙΜΟΤΑΤΟ
Nice/Beautifull ωραίο ΩΡΑΙΟ ωραιότερο ΩΡΑΙΟΤΕΡΟ ωραιότατο ΩΡΑΙΟΤΑΤΟ
Sweet γλυκό ΓΛΥΚΟ γλυκύτερο ΓΛΥΚΥΤΕΡΟ γλυκύτατο ΓΛΥΚΥΤΑΤΟ
Salty αλμυρό ΑΛΜΥΡΟ αλμυρότερο ΑΛΜΥΡΟΤΕΡΟ αλμυρότατο ΑΛΜΥΡΟΤΑΤΟ


λίγα ΛΙΓΑ λιγότερα ΛΙΓΟΤΕΡΑ ελάχιστα ΕΛΑΧΙΣΤΑ
little/less/least λίγο ΛΙΓΟ λιγότερο ΛΙΓΟΤΕΡΟ ελάχιστο ΕΛΑΧΙΣΤΟ


[1] There are grammar rules for which adjectives can take a one word comparitive and the following is taken from "Greek: An Essential Grammar of the Modern Language":

One-word comparitives do not exist for the following: particle forms in -μενός; adjectives in -ής, -ιά, -ί or -ων, -ουσα, -ον; adjectives with neuter in -ικο; indeclinable adjectives.

However, as yet I've no idea what most of that means...

[2] The use with πιο/ΠΙΟ and the definite article is referred to as the "relative superlative" and the one word version is called the "absolute superlative"