Comparison of Adjectives

There are a variety of ways to hide the stem of a adjective in its nominative form.

  • baburrus, -a, -um (stem barburo-) silly
  • levis, -e (stem levi-) fickle
  • fēlīx (stem fēlīc-) blessed
  • hebes (stem hebet-) dull

However, the majority of adjectives of all stem formations become comparatives and superlatives in the same way: with the addition of -ior (m/f) / ius (n) for comparatives, and the addition of -issimus, -a, -um for superlatives.

  • baburrus, -a, -um / baburrior, -ius / barburrissimus, -a, -um
  • levis, -e / levior, -ius / levissimus, -a, -um
  • fēlīx / fēlīcior, -ius / fēlīcissimus, -a, -um
  • hebes / hebetior, -ius / hebetissimus, -a, -um

There are a few things to note here. If an adjective is compared regularly,

  • It’s case ending will always have two options (m/f or n) for the comparative and three options (m or f or n) for the superlative, regardless of how many it had for the positive.
  • Stress accents will always appear on the penultimate vowel (for comparatives) or the ultimate vowel (for superlatives) of the stem.

babúrrior, baburríssimus / lévior, levísssimus / fēlícior, fēlīcíssimus / hebétior, hebetíssimus

Of course, it can always shift further forward, but never further back. The comparatives declines like so:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.42.56 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The superlatives decline like a regular first/second declension adjectives, regardless of how their positives decline:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.49.18 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The Essential AG: 120, 123-4


8 comments on “Comparison of Adjectives

  1. Miss Blennerhassit says:

    I came to this site to try and figure out a way to make a short sentence in Latin. It’s a quote from Hamlet: “The readiness is all”. I don’t trust Google translate, but have been playing around with it trying to come up with the best way to say this quote. “Prothymia omnia est” is the best I can do on my own (I have never studied Latin but I studied Spanish for ten years and Italian for two)… but “prothymia” seems to indicate willingness rather than preparedness. I don’t think Hamlet’s “readiness” meant willingness or alacrity, but rather a grim hunkering down against an oncoming foe. If you can offer any help with this, I’d appreciate it.

  2. tomsky01 says:

    You know, something I’m confused about – nēquissimus is the superlative of nēquam (right?), which latter is undeclined. According to whitaker’s words, this former superlative form is also undeclined? But the wiktionary declension table you posted would suggest otherwise. (the same for the comparative nēquior.)

  3. rsmease says:

    I checked a few other resources and things were equally ambiguous. Check out L&S and A&G: the former lists neither the comparative nor the superlative, while the later introduces them in 129, and specifically states that nēquam is not declined, but then does not say the same for the comparative and superlative forms. The only way to figure this out is to map sources to find out which is the primary source, and where the confusion arose. I don’t know which of these would be the first authority on the matter. Thoughts?

    • tomsky01 says:

      I decided just to search for an instance of “nequissimorum”, and I found an example in what looks like an authoritative (though medievil, ie 12th century) Latin text:

      Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I

      On page 448:

      “…nequissimorum sibi spirituum familiaritas et cooperatio…”

      So an example of “evil spirits” using the genitive plural, confirms it is declined, at least from this source. Well, I might have a look at some of my Latin reading material to see if I can find a confirmation from a classical text, as things change.

  4. Ben Kovitz says:

    “Ficky” quid est?

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