Grammar Toolbox: Adjectives and adverbs

See the mini-grammar for a more thorough explanation.

An adjective:

  • describes a noun (substantiv), for example: A pretty girl
  • occurs after the verb “to be”, for example: The girl is pretty

Rule of thumb: If you can put the word in front of the word thing with the article a(n) at the beginning (an exciting thing, a tall thing), then you are dealing with an adjective.



describe how, when or where something was done.

  • The team played well. (How did the team play?)
  • She sang beautifully. (How did she sing?)
  • He wants his dinner now. (When does he want his dinner?)
  • The accident happened here. (Where did the accident happen?)

Rule of thumb: Use the how, when or where question to find out if a word is an adverb.


Adverbs are often made from adjectives. In most cases, all you have to do is add -ly to the adjective (beautiful – beautifully).
If the adjective ends in y however, this is changed to i before -ly is added, for example angrily. Adjectives that end in -ic add -ally as in scientifically (except for publicly). Check your dictionaries if you are unsure.



We use adjectives to compare things. Most adjectives follow this pattern:

  • I have a big dog.
  • Jim has a bigger dog. (We use -er when we compare two things.)
  • Nora’s dog is the biggest in our village. (We use -est when we compare more than two things.)


If an adjective has two syllables (stavelser/stavingar), we often use this pattern:

  • I have a foolish brother.
  • Jim’s brother is more foolish than mine. (We use more to compare two things.)
  • Nora has the most foolish brother in our village. (We use most to compare more than two things.)


Adjectives that have more than two syllables always follow the more/most pattern.
Example: beautiful - more beautiful - most beautiful


We use less/least instead of more/most when we compare things negatively:

  • I have a foolish brother.
  • Jim’s brother is less foolish than mine.
  • Norah’s brother is the least foolish brother in our village.


Watch out! Some adjectives do not follow the patterns above. This means you have to make an extra effort to learn them. Here are some of the adjectives that often cause problems:
good  - better - (the) best
bad - worse - (the) worst
far - further/farther - (the) furthest/farthest
many/muc - more -(the) most
little - less - (the) least

Adverbs can be conjugated (bøyd/bøygde) in much the same manner as adjectives.
We add -er and -est to adverbs with one syllable:

fast - faster   - (the) fastest
hard - harder - (the) hardest


We add more/less and most/least to adverbs that end in -ly:

quickly - more/less quickly - most/least quickly
carefully - more/less carefully - most/least carefully

Some adverbs do not follow these patterns. You have to learn them by heart. Use a dictionary if necessary. Here are two examples:

badly - worse - worst
much - more - most