“Little” – Comparative and Superlative Forms Explained

The comparative and superlative forms for adjectives have a few grammar rules we need to pay attention to. Most of those rules come from the number of syllables the adjective has. This article will explore the two forms of “little” and how to use them.

What Is The Comparative Form Of “Little”?

“Littler” and “more little” are both correct comparative forms for the adjective “little.” We can use both to compare one thing as more “little” than another. Since “little” is a two-syllable adjective, we can choose whether we prefer “more” or the “-er” suffix in the word.

little comparative

Comparative rules can be pretty confusing with two-syllable adjectives. That’s because they vary based on the word we use.

Generally, most two-syllable adjectives allow us to choose our favorite form, and we can stick with that form in our writing. For example:

  • I am the littler of the two.
  • She is more little than I am.

Both of the sentences above are correct. One uses the standard “-er” ending for the comparative form, while the other uses “more” to compare something before the adjective.

The beauty of two-syllable words is the choice we get with them. However, this choice also leads to confusion. It’s best to try and remember that if a word has two syllables (lit-tle), then we can play around with the comparative form.

What Is The Superlative Form Of “Little”?

“Littlest” is the correct superlative form of “little.” Unlike the comparative form, the superlative form is strict. We usually include the “-est” ending with the superlative form for two-syllable adjectives. “Most little” is correct, but it’s not nearly as common to see.

The superlative form works to show that someone or something is the most “little” thing in a group. There has to be more than one other thing to compare to when using the superlative form.

However, things get a little more complicated with “little” when you look at its superlative form.

Most shorter words allow for an “-est” ending, which is great when trying to establish that something is comparatively the “most” little of a group of things. However, some people like to think that “most little” also works since “more little” does.

The truth is, they’re not wrong. “Most little” is correct. Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with it. However, it’s better to use “littlest” because it’s the most conceptually appropriate form that most native speakers default to in their own writing.

  • Correct: That is the littlest object I’ve ever seen.
  • Incorrect: He has the most little guitar in the world!

What Are The Different Forms Of “Little”?

It would help for you to understand the different forms of “little” a little closer. There are only three forms we need to worry about here.

Adjective Little
Comparative Littler / More little
Superlative Littlest

“Littler” and “more little” are both correct as the comparative forms, allowing us to choose. However, we must only stick to the one superlative form (littlest) if we want to be correct.

How Prevalent Is The Use Of “More Little” And “Littler”?

Now that we’ve covered everything you need to understand about the comparative form, it’s time to look into the popularity of the different choices. Since there are two choices, it would help to know which is more likely.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “more little” is the most common choice, but not by much. “More little” is more common because it sounds a little more appropriate, while “littler” almost seems to lose the “-er” ending when you say it aloud.

littler,more little

Most people prefer “more little” because it’s more obvious when they write the comparative form:

  • That is more little than I would have imagined it.

Sometimes, “littler” is overlooked as a typo or an error because only an “R” is added to the end of the world. Also, when you try to pronounce it, you might notice that it’s not the easiest word that rolls of the tongue.

  • This bag is littler than my last one.

Still, both are common. We just prefer “more little” in most cases.

How Prevalent Is The Use Of “Most Little” And “Littlest”?

The graph for the superlative form is vastly different. After all, there is only one common choice that most people stick with.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “littlest” is by far the most common superlative form for “little.” We use it because it follows the rules where two-syllable words have an “-est” ending added to them.

This is the preferred version:

  • He is the littlest man I’ve ever met!

While “most little” is correct, it does not do the superlative form justice. We do not want to use it in most cases because the additional word can be a bit too much in most sentences.

  • You are the most little person I’ve seen in a long time.

The extra word “most” can sometimes put people off reading the sentence. That’s why “littlest” is more common.

Examples Of How To Use The Comparative Form Of “Little” In A Sentence

  1. I am littler than my brother, even though I’m older than him.
  2. You are more little than me, but that’s okay.
  3. This bag is littler than my last one, and I’d like to return it.
  4. My phone is more little than yours!
  5. You have grown littler since we last met! I’m sure of it.
  6. I am more little than they say I am, but I don’t like to admit to that.
  7. You are littler than her, so you should swap positions in this lineup.

Examples Of How To Use The Superlative Form Of “Little” In A Sentence

  1. I am the littlest person in my class.
  2. She is the littlest girl I’ve ever seen.
  3. You are the littlest person here.
  4. This is the littlest I’ve ever cared about a subject.
  5. This is the littlest I’ve seen you speak.
  6. You are the littlest idiot on this planet.
  7. I have the littlest ego, I swear.

Is “Littler” Grammatically Correct?

“Littler” is grammatically correct. It is one of the two choices we have for the comparative adjective form of “little.” While it’s not the most popular choice (“more little” is), we can still use it to compare one thing as more “little” than another.

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