Are positive, comparative and superlative adjectives considered as modes?

Can I call each of them as mode? For example: positive mode, comparative mode, and superlative mode?

  • Usually they are called degrees. Apr 21, 2018 at 21:04
  • I would say adjectives have three forms: the (plain) adjective, a comparative form and a superlative form.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2018 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


No. The word you want is grade, or alternatively form.


The comparative and superlative g͟r͟a͟d͟e͟s͟ of adjectives and adverbs. (source)
...many adjectives one or two syllables in length inflect for g͟r͟a͟d͟e͟ (e.g. plain old vs comparative older vs superlative oldest ). (CGEL, p. 27)

On the other hand, ComGEL uses form:

[Adjectives] can take comparative and superlative f͟o͟r͟m͟s͟. (p. 403)

Grammatical mood (or mode), which is what your Wikipedia link is about, has nothing to do with adjectives; it is entirely about verbs.

  • I basically agree with you but have a question: You say no, the word you want is grade. When I say things like that, I get into trouble. Do you? [I am upvoting by the way]. I think forms works too.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2018 at 21:46
  • 1
    @Lambie Well, not so far... only a matter of time, though, I'm sure. I agree that 'forms' works too, as 'form' is a broad concept that applies to all kinds of inflection,e.g. of verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs. 'Grade', however, is specifically about adjectives and adverbs. (Thanks for upvoting!) Apr 21, 2018 at 22:05
  • @Lambie I've added form as an option since that is what ComGEL uses. Thanks for pointing it out! Apr 21, 2018 at 22:56
  • 1
    No worries and thanks. I am getting paranoid about making any comments at all....:)
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2018 at 22:58
  • In another book called "Cambridge Grammar of English" (p.439) by Ronald Carter and Mccarthy, it refers to positive form as the base form. Apr 22, 2018 at 2:26

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