Forming the superlative of adjectives in complex cases

Look at these superlative sentences:

Jean est le garçon le plus mignon de l'école.
John is the cutest boy in the school

Jean est le plus mignon garçon de l'école.
John is the cutest boy in the school.

Le Texas est l'état le plus riche des États-Unis.
Texas is the richest state in America

Le Texas est le plus riche état des États-Unis.
Texas is the richest state in America.



While the simplest superlative forms are quite similar to the English equivalent, but in more complex examples, the word order and prepositions may be different to what you expect:

E.g. Marie est la fille la plus intelligente de la classe (Marie is the smartest girl in the class)

Two things to pay attention to in complex examples like this are:

1. la fille usually appears before la plus whereas in English it's the reverse order. Also see that 'la' appears twice.
2. de la/du/des/ de l' ('of the') always follows the superlative, even when in English we might say 'in'.

Note: you can also say:

Marie est la plus intelligente fille de la classe (Marie is the smartest girl in the class)

 

See also the related Le, la, les plus and le, la, les moins = the most and the least (superlatives of adjectives)

 

Here are other Superlative structures:
Le plus and le moins = the most and the least (superlative of adverbs)
Meilleur, mieux, pire / plus mauvais, plus mal = better, best, worse and worst (irregular comparatives and superlatives)

And Comparative structures:
Plus... plus..., moins... moins... = the more...the more..., the less...the less... (comparisons with phrases)
Better and better, worse and worse = de mieux en mieux, de pire en pire (comparisons)
De plus en plus and de moins en moins = more and more and less and less (comparisons with adjectives, adverbs, verbs)
De plus en plus de and de moins en moins de = more and more and less and less (comparisons of nouns)
Making comparisons with adjectives: plus... que, aussi... que, moins... que
Making comparisons with adverbs: plus... que, aussi... que, moins... que
Making comparisons with verbs: plus que, autant que, moins que
Making comparisons with nouns: plus de... que, moins de... que, autant de... que

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le Texas est l'état le plus riche des États-Unis.
Texas is the richest state in America


Jean est le garçon le plus mignon de l'école.
John is the cutest boy in the school


Jean est le plus mignon garçon de l'école.
John is the cutest boy in the school.


Le Texas est le plus riche état des États-Unis.
Texas is the richest state in America.


Q&A Forum 4 questions, 7 answers

BrianA2Kwiziq community member

Video - broken link

Hi, just to let you know so you can, correct or remove it, the link to the video isn’t working. 

Asked 2 months ago
ShuiKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Brian

The video link has been deleted as the source is no longer available on the internet.

Thanks for letting us know!

Cordialement

Shui

CécileKwiziq team member

Reported Brian, thanks!

Video - broken link

Hi, just to let you know so you can, correct or remove it, the link to the video isn’t working. 

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BrianA2Kwiziq community member

Etats or États

In the four Texas examples above we have “Etats-Unis”. Should these all be “États-Unis”?

Asked 2 months ago
MarieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Brian,

Even though there is a debate around whether the accents should be used on capital letters in French, they are compulsory according to the Académie Française. Thanks for flagging this up, I have just changed these two examples.

Etats or États

In the four Texas examples above we have “Etats-Unis”. Should these all be “États-Unis”?

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WalterC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Nothing to do with French, but ...

By GDP La Californie as of 2018 is 50% richer than Le Texas.  (Probably why so many French people live in L.A.!)

By median income Le Texas doesn't even make the Top 10.  The top 3 are 1. Le New Hampshire  2. Le Minnesota 3. Le Hawaii.

Just thought you would like to know ...  :- )

Walter B.

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Thank you Walter, that’s very interesting ....

Nothing to do with French, but ...

By GDP La Californie as of 2018 is 50% richer than Le Texas.  (Probably why so many French people live in L.A.!)

By median income Le Texas doesn't even make the Top 10.  The top 3 are 1. Le New Hampshire  2. Le Minnesota 3. Le Hawaii.

Just thought you would like to know ...  :- )

Walter B.

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KennethC1Kwiziq community member

BANGS adjectives?

This lesson is kind of confusing me. At school I learned that the superlative must come after the noun unless the adjective would come before the noun, and in that case the placement would be a choice. The French About page on superlatives also states this rule. So wouldn't "Marie est la plus intelligente fille de la classe" be incorrect?
Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Kenneth,

Both examples are given in the lesson :

Marie est la plus intelligente fille de la classe 

and 

Marie est la fille la plus intelligente de la classe

for

Marie is the smartest girl in the class

AaronC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
The video on this lesson page says the same thing, and I've also seen the advice that the placement of the superlative follows the normal placement of the adjective, whether before or after the noun, so I'm also left wondering.
AaronC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Sorry, I must have missed Cécile's comment.

BANGS adjectives?

This lesson is kind of confusing me. At school I learned that the superlative must come after the noun unless the adjective would come before the noun, and in that case the placement would be a choice. The French About page on superlatives also states this rule. So wouldn't "Marie est la plus intelligente fille de la classe" be incorrect?

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