Home » Curriculum » Trivium » TRV-221 Latin Grammar I » Latin Grammar I, Lesson 07. Formation of Compratives & Superlatives

Latin Grammar I, Lesson 07. Formation of Compratives & Superlatives

To complete this lesson, complete the following tasks:

  1.  Study the Lesson for mastery.
  2.  Complete all Memory Work.
  3.  Complete the lesson Assessment.

Lesson

In our last lesson, we learned of the three degrees of nouns:  Positive, Comparative and Superlative.  In this lesson, we study how the Comparative and Superlatives are formed in Latin.

Rule

1. Comparatives are formed by adding the ending OR to the case ending in the letter I, and superlatives by adding the letter S and SIMUS, as: justusjusti → justiorjustissimusfortisforti → fortiorfortissimus.

In this general rule, we learn that comparatives are formed by adding the ending OR to the case of the adjective noun that ends in I.  This is easy to remember, since in English we normally add -ER to form comparatives, as hard, harder; tall, taller, etc..

Superlatives are formed by adding the letter S and the ending SIMUS to the case that ends in I.  This is also easy to remember if we think that that Latin ending -SSIMUS is like the English ending -EST.

Exception 1

Having learned the general rule for comparative and superlative nouns above, we now learn of an exception to that rule.  Remember that exceptions to grammar rules in Latin are often necessary because of the way a word sounds when spoken.   These exceptions are simple and reasonable.

2.  Positive adjective nouns whose nominative case ends in -ER form the superlative by adding -RIMUS, as tener → tenerrimussaluber → saluberrimusprosper → prosperrimus.  So veterrimus and maturrimus from the old nouns veter and matur; in later Latin maturissimus.  From dexter and sinister we make the comparatives dexterior and sinisterior, without any superlative, for dextimus and sinistimus are used for dexter and sinisterDeterior and deterrimus from the obsolete deterdeteradeterum.

Again, this is a simple matter of pronunciation.  If we followed the general rule here, we would have tenerissimus, which is fine.  However, we can contract this and make tenerrimus, which sounds better and is easier to pronounce.

Exception 2

3.  The positive adjective nouns facilisdifficilisgracilishumilissimilisdissimilis produce the superlative degree by changing the final syllable IS into LIMUS, as: facillimusdifficilimusgracillimushumillimussimillimusdissimillimus, so imbecillimus.

This exception is just like the first except that we are contracting nouns that end in L rather than R.  Instead of facilissimus, we make facillimus, which is easier to pronounce.

Exception 3

4.  Nouns which have a vowel before the syllable US, rarely make the comparative or superlative, as idoneusnoxiusarduus.  Some have been found, however, among some approved writers.

Exception 4

5.  Comparatives for nouns derived from the verbs faciodicovolo are formed by adding ENTIOR, and superlatives by ENTISSIMUS, as magnificus→ magnificentiormagnificentissimus;  maledicus→ maledicentiormaledicentissimusbenevolus→ benevolentiorbenevolentissimus.

Memory Work

  1. What is the general rule for forming comparatives and superlatives in Latin?
    Comparatives are formed from adjective nouns by adding the ending OR to the case ending in the letter I, and superlatives by adding the letter S and SIMUS, as: justusjusti → justiorjustissimusfortisforti → fortiorfortissimus.
  2. What exception is made for adjective nouns ending in ER?
    Adjective nouns whose nominative case ends in -ER form the superlative by adding -RIMUS
  3. What exception is made for adjective nouns ending in LIS?
    The positive adjective nouns facilisdifficilisgracilishumilissimilisdissimilis produce the superlative degree by changing the final syllable IS into LIMUS.
  4. What exception is made for adjective nouns ending with US after a vowel?
    Nouns which have a vowel before the syllable US, rarely make the comparative or superlative.
  5. What exception is made for adjective nouns derived from the verbs faciodico and volo?
    Comparatives for nouns derived from the verbs faciodicovolo are formed by adding ENTIOR, and superlatives by ENTISSIMUS.

Assessment

Latin Grammar I, Lesson 07 Exam