Russian Language Blog

How to Compare Things in Russian Posted by on Dec 30, 2010 in language, Russian for beginners

Do you know a Russian saying «зимой снега не допросишься»? It’s used when describing «скупой» [stingy], «жадный» [greedy] person from whom one literally can’t beg even snow in the winter. Well, we’ve had so much snow over the last weekend that I think even the worst tightwads are ready to part with some of the stuff now.

But all this snow kept us busy – we «расчищали дорожки» [were clearing the walkways], «лепили снеговика» [were making a snowman], «катались на санках» [went sledding], «играли в снежки» [had snowball fights] and «сушили одежду» [were drying our clothes] in between these activities.

With a dryer humming in the background, we sat around the kitchen table, ate «печенье» [cookies], drank «горячий чай» [hot tea] and «какао» [hot cocoa] and talked about the weather.

The consensus was that this winter was not just «холоднее, чем прошлая» [colder than the last one], but also «более снежная» [with more snow]. We also agreed that as long as we didn’t have to drive anywhere on snowy days, such turn of events was «веселее» [merrier] than a warm winter. «Самый младший» [the youngest] family member even opined that this was «самый лучший день» [the best day] in his whole entire life, all four years of it.

That last remark, combined with some New Year resolutions I’ve been putting together for myself, got me thinking about «степени сравнения прилагательных» [degrees of comparison of adjectives] in Russian language.

Now, the positive degree is a pretty straightforward one since it’s just the basic form of the adjective (or adverb) – «снежный» [snowy], «холодный» [cold], «весёлый» [cheerful].

«Сравнительная и превосходная степени гораздо интереснее.» [The comparative and superlative degrees are a lot more interesting.] To begin with, there are two distinct ways of forming these and you can, for the most part, pick and choose. By the way, it will also work for «наречия» [adverbs].

One «способ» [method] is to use suffixes and, in some cases, prefixes to come up with comparative and superlative adjectives. These suffixes include «-ее- (-ей-)-», «-е-», «-ше-» for comparative adjectives and «-ейш- (-айш-)» for superlative ones:

  • Positive – «Зима в этом году холодная.» [Winter is cold this year.]
  • Comparative – «В этом году зима холоднее, чем в прошлом» [This year’s winter is colder than last years’ one.]
  • Superlative – «Зима в этом году – холоднейшая за всю историю нашего города.» [This year’s winter is the coldest in the history of our town.]


  • Positive – «Новый Год – мой любимый праздник» [New Year is my favorite holiday]
  • Comparative – «Любимее Нового Года у меня праздника нет» [I have no holiday more favorite than New Year]
  • Superlative – «Новый Год – мой любимейший праздник» [New Year is my most favorite holiday]


You can also form a superlative using comparative adjective + the word “всех” [all]. 

I love building new words with suffixes, but it doesn’t always work:

«Хороший» [good] – «лучше» [better; adverb] – «лучший» [the best]

«Плохой» [bad] – «хуже» [worse; adverb] – «худший» [the worst]

Plus there are quite a few adjectives that simply refuse to be augmented this way (if you get bored with this list, skip it to find a simple solution):

  • Adjectives with the suffix «-ск-» or «-зк-»  – «дружеский» [friendly], «вражеский» [hostile], «скользкий» [slippery];
  • Some adjectives with the suffix «-н-»«ручной» [handmade, also domesticated], «лишний» [excessive], «больной» [ill];
  • Adjectives with the suffix «-ов-» or «-ев-»«деловой» [business-like], «рядовой» [regular], «массовый» [large scale];
  • Many verbal adjectives with the suffix «-л-», such as «гнилой» [rotten], «усталый» [tired], «хриплый» [hoarse];
  • And a few other strays, including «гордый» [proud] and «робкий» [timid].

With so many exceptions, it might be «проще» [easier] to find another way. Fortunately, there is just such an option that allows you to skip my list of exceptions. (You can use this saved time to finally finish your list of New Year resolutions.)

This other method is called analytical method and consists of getting a bit «более многословный» [more verbose]. See, I just did it – «более» [more] is the extra word you’d add to the adjective’s positive form to form the comparative degree. Its opposite is «менее» [less].

  • «Более интересного объяснения я еще не читала» [I’m yet to read a more interesting explanation]
  • «В ярком свете фонаря она показалась менее привлекательной» [In the bright light of a street lamp she appeared less attractive]

For superlative degree, add «наиболее» [the most], «наименее» [the least] or «самый» [the very].

  • «Наиболее вкусным получился борщ по Наташиному рецепту» [The tastiest borsch was from Natasha’s recipe]
  • «Грамматика всегда была для меня наименее интересным предметом» [For me grammar was always the least interesting subject]
  • «Прошел конкурс на самую красиво украшенную ёлку» [A contest was held for the best-decorated Christmas tree.]

And now it’s time for some «домашнее задание» [homework]  – use your newfound knowledge to come up with adjectives that adequately describe our blog. (Bonus points are given for superlatives.)

Tags: , ,
Keep learning Russian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. Roberta Taussig:

    Please add some explanation of what cases come after the various degrees. It looks like the one-word forms are straightforward, but from your examples, it looks like “более + adj.” is followed by genitive, while “наиболее + adj.” is followed by instrumental.

  2. yelena:

    Roberta, the case of the adjective has to be consistent with the case of the noun it describes. So you can say:

    Более/наиболее интересное объяснение
    Более/наиболее интересного объяснения
    Более/наиболее интересному объяснению
    Более/наиболее интересное объяснение
    Более/наиболее интересным объяснением
    О более/наиболее интересном объяснении

    I hope this helps.

  3. JohnS:

    Roberta, the confusion might be because in the example given the case of the noun following Более (genetive) is governed by the negation of the verb ‘не читала’, and not by the modifier ‘Более’. Sorry for the awkward interpretation explanation. I might be wrong, I’ll confess.

  4. Johanna:

    Russian Students:
    I have asked for a pronounciation for the sentences from Yelena’s examples HERE.
    This can be used for Anki flashcards, for example.

    Usually someone friendly like “redmax” stops by to upload a recording within a couple of days. (But if any Russian native speaker with a good microphone, reads this, I would be super grateful for your help with a recording 🙂 Right now, Redmax is the only Russian user, I think and it sometimes takes over a week until he has time to do it.

  5. yelena:

    Johanna, this is really cool! I do have a microphone, but cannot for the life of mine figure out the software to record MP3 files. I’ll try again ’cause it’d definitely be very useful.

  6. Johanna:

    Hi Yelena! Happy New Year!

    My friend Jurij from the “MasterRussian” forum recorded the examples on Rhinospike after I mentioned it.

    Here is another service that someone recommended, that is a bit easier to use:

    For anyone who wants to record mp3 files:

    Install “Audacity” or “Goldwave”.
    When you record with those, you have to set Windows’ recording default to “microphone” and also make sure that that is what the software is recording from.

    For further info there are tutorials for them, for example on youtube.

    I use Goldwave for recordings and Audacity for editing but they both have the same capabilities.

    • yelena:

      @Johanna Спасибо, Johanna! I’ll give it a try (I do have Audacity installed, just never tried it).

  7. bruno vieira:

    good pictures! You know the beach Sirituba, is in the Amazon, Brazil.
    Congratulations on your blog!