November 5, 2018
by Sarah Sumnicht

Lesson plan

Sillier or Silliest? A Suffix Study

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to form comparative and superlative adjectives using the suffixes -er and -est.

(2 minutes)
  • On the board, draw a picture of three people ranging in height from short to tall.
  • Label the three people with the words "tall, taller, tallest."
  • Ask students to identify the suffixes in the words you wrote on the board (-er and -est).
  • Underline the suffixes -er and -est in the words "taller" and "tallest."
  • Remind students that suffixes, like these, are groups of letters that are added to the ends of words to change their meaning.
  • Tell students that today they will learn about the suffixes -er and -est.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that these suffixes, -er and -est, can be used to compare things or show degree. They are often added to adjectives, which are words that describe nouns, like "tall."
  • Tell students that the suffix -er is used when comparing two things, like "Nico is taller than Zoe." Adjectives with the suffix -er are called comparative adjectives.
  • Explain that the suffix -est is used when comparing three or more things (or to show the greatest degree), like "Nico is the tallest student in our class." Adjectives with the suffix -est are called superlative adjectives.
  • Tell students that, sometimes, when these suffixes are added to words, they change the spelling of the base word.
  • Use a document camera to display the worksheet How to Use the Suffixes -er and -est.
  • Read through each rule and example. Have students turn and talk to a partner to come up with the answers for the Try It questions and call on volunteers to provide answers.
  • If needed, provide additional examples for each spelling rule.
  • Add that longer adjectives (with three or more syllables) do not use the suffixes -er or -est. Instead, they are combined with the words "more" or "most." For example, "more interesting" or "most embarrassing."
  • Some other comparative adjectives do not use the suffixes -er or -est because they are irregular, like "bad, worse, worst." These exceptions must be memorized since they do not fit the rules.
(15 minutes)
  • Read a book aloud that contains words with the suffixes -er and -est, like Pig, Pigger, Piggest by Rick Walton (or show a video read-aloud; see related media).
  • Tell students to listen for examples of the two suffixes.
  • After the read-aloud, have students pair up with a classmate and hand out a sheet of paper to each pair.
  • Instruct students to draw three columns on their sheet of paper. They should label the first column "adjective," the second column "comparative," and the third column "superlative."
  • Tell students to work with their partners to list as many examples as they can from the book, using their chart to write each word as a comparative adjective and superlative adjective.
  • Remind students that most adjectives will use the suffixes -er or -est, but they should pay attention to the spelling rules and exceptions.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the worksheet Let's Practice Using Suffixes: -er and -est.
  • Instruct students to complete the worksheet independently.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Offer additional practice with comparative and superlative adjectives with the worksheet What are Comparatives and Superlatives? (see materials).
  • Keep a list of suffixes, like -er and -est, displayed on a word wall. Include definitions and examples for each suffix.


  • Have students think about other ways the suffix -er can be used (i.e., when attached to a noun it designates an occupation or origin, as in tiler or villager; when attached to a verb it creates an "agent noun," as in builder or teacher). Encourage them to keep a list of words they find with the suffix -er.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out a half sheet of paper to each student. (Note: paper should be cut in half "hotdog style" so that students receive long strips of paper. These can be prepared ahead of time.)
  • Instruct them to fold their paper into thirds.
  • Tell students to use one side of their paper to write an example of an adjective, comparative, and superlative that use the suffixes -er and -est (i.e., nice, nicer, nicest) so that each third of the paper contains one word.
  • Have students illustrate each word.
  • Then have students turn their paper over and write an example of an adjective that does not use the suffixes -er and -est (i.e. beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful) so that each third of the paper contains one word.
  • Again, have students illustrate each word.
  • Collect student work as an exit card. (Optional: display student work on a word wall after the lesson.)
(3 minutes)
  • Say a word out loud with the suffix -er or -est, like "greater."
  • Ask students to identify the base word (i.e., "great").
  • Call on a student to add the other suffix to the base word (i.e., "greatest").
  • Repeat the exercise with a word that is incorrect, like "beneficialer."
  • Ask students to give the correct comparative (or superlative) form of the word (i.e., "more beneficial").

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