6. Comparative and Superlative Degrees

Only qualitative adjectives can have a superlative or comparative form. If an English adjective can be used comparatively or superlatively, the equivalent Belarusian adjective most likely can as well. By the same token, if the English adjective cannot be used comparatively or superlatively, the Belarusian adjective probably cannot also.

6.1 Short comparative adjective formation

The short comparative form of an adjective is identical to the comparative adverb. The comparative adverb is formed by removing the final –ы or –і and replacing it with an accented –ей. See **29.4 for more on the comparative adverb.



*важны‘important’важнейmore important*

*вольны‘free’вальнейmore free*

*вясёлы‘fun’весялейmore fun*

*дакладны‘precise’дакладнейmore precise*


If the last consonant of the adjective is invariably non-palatized, the final –ы is replaced with –эй.


прыгожы‘beautiful’прыгажэйmore beautiful

хітры‘cunning’хітрэйmore cunning

For adjectives ending in –ты or –ды, the ending is removed and replaced with one of the accented endings –цей or –дзей** respectively.


*густыthick, viscousгусцейthicker, more viscous*

жоўты‘yellow’жаўцейmore yellow



*тоўстыthick, fatтаўсцейthicker, fatter*

цвёрдыhard, firmцвярдзейharder, firmer


**There are a number of irregular comparative adjectives.











*дарагіexpensiveдаражэйmore expensive*






6.2 Short comparative adverb usage

Because short comparative adjectives are adverbs, they do not decline and can only be used predicatively.

Я маладзей за яго.I am younger than him.

Кожнаму хацелася стаць бліжэйEach wanted to get closer to the water.

да вады.

6.3 Irregular short comparative adjectives

a small number of adjectives have unique short comparative adjective forms, separate from their short comparative adverb form. These adjectives all end in –**шы, decline like other adjectives, and are not limited to predicate usage.





Some examples of usage of short comparative adjectives are given.

Сам быў не ў лепшым стане.I myself was not in any better shape.

Там былі яблыкі болшыя,The apples were bigger over there

чым тут.than here.

*The adjective малады, ‘young’, has the normal short comparative form маладзей, but it also has an additional short comparative form малодшы, which has the specialized meaning of junior. The adjective стары does not have a normal short comparative form, but there is the specialized word старшы, which means ‘older’, or ‘senior’. Both малодшы and ста*ршы are used like any normal adjective.

Малодшы лейтэнант камандаваўThe junior lieutenant commanded

мінамётнай ротай.the mortar company.

апроч мяне была ў маці яшчэMy mother had another daughter besides

дачка, мая сястра старшая.me, my older sister.

6.4 Long comparative adjectives

adjectives that do not have a short comparative form can be used comparatively by placing either больш, ‘more’, or менш, ‘less’, before the word.

Я больш палітычны, чым выI am more tactful than both of

разам узятыя.you combined.

*Беражок ля *ямы стаў большThe rim around the hole became

зручны.more convenient.

6.5 Superlatives ending in –ейшы or –эйшы**

any adjective which has a short comparative form can form a superlative by appending the ending –шы to that short comparative form. adjectives without a short comparative form that ends in –ей or –**эй do not have a unique superlative form.



даражэйmore expensiveдаражэйшыmost expensive




The adjective стары, ‘old’, has no short comparative form, but does have the superlative старэйшы, ‘oldest’.

6.6 Superlatives using the adverb самы

The superlative form of any qualitative adjective can be formed by placing the adjective самы, ‘most’, before the adjective and by then declining самы to agree with the adjective. This is the form used for adjectives that do not have a superlative form ending in –ейшы or –эйшы, like the adjectives discussed in Section 6.3.

Яны стаялі перад самым крутымThey stood in front of the steepest hill.


а ўвогуле розумне самаеGenerally, the mind is not the most

галоўнае ў чалавеку.important thing to a person.

6.8 Superlatives with the prefix най**-

This prefix can be appended to ordinary superlatives, the comparative adjectives mentioned in Section 6.3, or to adjectives that normally has no special superlative form. The prefix най- slightly changes the meaning of the word. a normal superlative indicates that the characteristic of the noun is the extreme when compared to others. When the prefix най- is appended, the meaning indicates that the characteristic of the adjective is extreme, regardless of whether it is compared to others or not.

*Гэтанайбольшы знак дляThis is a really big sign for the town that*

*гарадка, што заўтра вайна.war is tomorrow.*

*Гэтую даведку, бы найдаражэйшыShe buried this affidavit in the papers, as*

дакумент, яна загарнула ўif it were a most valuable document.


*Я калісьці буду найпершы.Someday I will be the very first.*

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