Comparisons in Arabic work in much the same way as comparisons in English. Adjectives are essential to comparisons, as are some basic prepositions such as “than”, “as” and “like”. The adjective itself describes the degree of comparison; for example, Ahmed is bigger than Khalifah, or Doha is more expensive than Dubai.
As you can see from our examples, in English you can either change the adjective, i.e. big / bigger, or you must use words like “more” or “less”.
However, in Arabic, all adjectives can be changed to signify a greater degree of whatever it is being described.
Comparatives (e.g. bigger) and superlatives (e.g. biggest) are formed in the same way. They actually follow a certain pattern.
To form the comparative or superlative, add أَ (a) to the beginning, remove the يـ (ii) sound, and adjust the vowels to match the word أَفْعَلْ (af3al).aC1C2aC3 where
each ʻCʼ represents a root consonant of the word.
Thus, in words where
there are no ʻweakʼ consonants in C3 position
kabíirكبير ʻbigʼ ákbar أكبرʻbiggerʼ
jamiilجميل ʻbeautifulʼ ájmalأجمل ʻmore beautifulʼ
zayn ʻgoodʼ ázyan ʻbetterʼ
Let me show you some examples. Note that to form the feminine all you need is to add a ة (ah) to the end of the adjective. The comparative form, however, will remain the same for both feminine and masculine, as you will see.
long / tall (masc.)
long / tall (fem.)
longer / taller