Comparative and Superlative Games - ESL Grammar Ideas

Comparative and Superlative adjectives are a very important part of learning English. This is especially true for beginners, as knowledge of these grammar forms is really a prerequisite of advancing to intermediate.

While grammar lessons and exercises are beneficial, we all know it is important to get the students communicating and using the structures in realistic situations.

For me, the first way I do this is have them discuss the differences between their countries. This includes their home country and the country they are now studying in, but it also includes comparing their countries with those of their partners. As we know, students love to talk about their home countries, and this is a perfect time to do that.

I simply write a number of adjectives on the board that are used to describe places: hot, cold, big, small, clean, dirty, safe, busy, etc. I then have them work in partners to make sentences with the comparative adjectives.
Ex: My city is colder than this city.

Comparative/Superlative Trivia

Another activity I like, is to create a superlative/comparative trivia. Although the students do not use the structure in speaking as much, it is a great chance for them to see the comparatives/superlatives in context. Some example questions I normally use are,
  • What is the biggest country in the world?
  • What city is colder, Toronto or Vancouver?
  • Who is older, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie?

As you can imagine, the questions can be created to suit any purpose you like as well as any difficulty.

Bring Me Something....

For younger students, I like to play a game where they search the class to find an item I have requested. The students are in groups, and I stand in front of the class. As an example, I ask for something smaller than a pencil. The first group to bring me an item that fits the request gets a point. Other examples include,
  • Something bigger than the textbook
  • Something older than the desk
  • Something newer than a new notebook
  • Someone better looking than the teacher (That always gets some laughs)

Does anyone else have any ideas for comparative or superlative games?

As a general note, I find in speaking students need the most help with using "than" with comparatives, deciding between "more" and "er", and choosing the superlative vs. the comparative. I am always conscious of these issues, and try to make corrections whenever possible.

Here are some tests that can be copied and printed:

Comparative Adjectives Test

Comparative Adjectives Test

Superlative Adjectives Test

Comparatives vs. Superlatives Test

Comparatives vs. Superlatives Test

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