French Language Blog

Super Scary…Superlatives (2) Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Grammar, Uncategorized


Last week, I went over French superlatives using the formula le/la/les + plus/moins + adjective/adverb, as well as some irregular superlative forms (le/la meilleur/e).

To use the superlative form of bon in order to say that something is “the best,” you would use le/la meilleur(e). For example: Notre-Dame de Paris est le meilleur livre de Victor Hugo. (The Hunchback of Notre Dame is Victor Hugo’s best book.) However, if you want to say that something is “the worst,”, you would use le/la pire. For example: C’était la pire journée de ma vie! (It was the worst day of my life!). Notice how the masculine and feminine form of the word pire is the same, although you still need to remember to accord the article with the noun.

Using the superlative pire, I want to transition to talking about comparatives. Comparatives are comparisons between two or more nouns, focusing on quality, quantity, or degree. Superlatives are a kind of comparative that signify the greatest degree of something.

If the superlative “the worst” uses the formula le/la pire + noun, the simple comparative uses the following formula: pire + que

The following is a common French expression that uses the formula pire + que: Le remède est pire que le mal. (The remedy is worse than the disease.) Notice how in this comparative form there is no article (le/la) preceding pire. If you said, ce remède est le pire remède disponsible et le moins efficace. (This remedy is the worst available remedy and the least effective.)

The comparative and superlative forms of bien (“good,” as an adverb) work in a similar way. Like bon and meilleur(e), bien becomes mieux in comparative form (it is also an irregular comparative form). 

Thus, le/la mieux + noun is the superlative form and mieux or mieux + que is the simple comparative form.

Here are some examples

Il a joué mieux aujourd’hui qu‘hier. (He played better today than yesterday.)

Elle va mieux aujourd’hui. (She is better today.)

Je joue au tennis le mieux(I play tennis the best.)

Try using the superlative or simple comparative forms of pire or mieux in the comments below!


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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!