Superlative Adjective Forms

A Superlative form is the highest degree of an adjective (think of the word super). In English, superlatives are words like fastest, smartest, greatest, etc. There are several ways of expressing superlatives in Tagalog. This section will discuss some of the most common forms.

1. Reduplication

    The superlative is expressed by repeating the adjective. The two adjectives are connected by the linker NA (na/-ng/-g). In a simple sentence, this adjective form comes before an ANG-phrase/pronoun, or in other words, this adjective describes a noun that is in focus. Here are some examples:

Magandang-maganda ang pelikula. The movie was very good.
Mabait na mabait ang nanay niya. Her mom is very nice.
Murang-mura ang kamatis ngayon. Tomatoes are very cheap these days.

Noun Modifier

magandang-magandang pelikula a very good movie
mabait na mabait na tao a very nice person
murang-murang gulay very cheap vegetables


2. ANG + Adjective root (+ optional reduplication of the root)
   The superlative is expressed by placing ANG before the adjective root. The root word may be repeated for emphasis. In a simple sentence, the adjective form comes before a NG-phrase/pronoun (the word being described is not in focus). Here are some examples:

Ang ganda ng pelikula.
Ang ganda-ganda ng pelikula.
The movie was very good.
Ang bait niya.
Ang bait-bait niya.
She is very nice.
Ang mura nito.
Ang mura-mura nito.
These are very cheap.
Noun Modifier
ang gandang pelikula
ang ganda-gandang pelikula
a very good movie
ang bait na kapitbahay
ang bait-bait na kapitbahay
a very nice neighbor
ang murang gulay
ang mura-murang gulay
very cheap vegetables

Let's take a look at the first sentence:

Ang ganda ng pelikula.

In this case the beauty (ganda) is so great that it is considered to be more important than the movie. Hence ganda is in focus and not the movie. Instead of saying something like "It was a beautiful movie" (maganda ang pelikula), saying "Ang ganda ng pelikula!" means something like: "Ah, the beauty of that movie!"

 

3. The affix NAPAKA-
    The superlative is expressed by attaching the prefix napaka- to the root word. In a simple sentence, this adjective form comes before a NG-phrase/pronoun (the thing being described is not in focus). Here, like ANG superlatives, the adjective is seen to be so great that it eclipses the thing/person being described (e.g., the beauty is more important than the film). Hence, the thing described is not in focus. Here are some examples:

  Napakaganda ng pelikula.   The movie was very good.
  Napakabait ni Mrs. Santos.   Mrs.Santos is very nice.
  Napakamura ng kamatis ngayon.   Tomatoes are very cheap these days.
Noun Modifier
napakagandang pelikula a very good movie
napakabait na kaibigan a very good friend
napakamurang gulay very cheap vegetables



4. The affix PAGKA- + Adjective root (+ optional reduplication of the root)  
    The superlative is expressed by attaching the prefix PAGKA- to the adjective root. The root word may be repeated for emphasis. In a simple sentence, this adjective form comes before a NG-phrase/pronoun. Like NAPAKA, the adjective is more important than the thing being described. Hence, the thing described is not in focus. Here are some examples:

Pagkaganda ng pelikula.
Pagkaganda-ganda ng pelikula.
The movie was very good.
Pagkabait ni Mrs. Santos.
Pagkabait-bait ni Mrs. Santos.
Mrs. Santos is very nice.
Pagkamura ng gulay.
Pagkamura-mura ng gulay.
The vegetables are very cheap.
Noun Modifier
pagkagandang pelikula
pagkaganda-gandang pelikula
a very good movie
pagkabait na katrabaho
pagkabait-bait na katrabaho
a very nice colleague
pagkamurang gulay
pagkamura-murang gulay
very cheap vegetables


5. Other Expressions
    There are other phrases that are used to express superlatives. Some of the more common ones are presented here.

Superlative structure Examples
Ubod ng + adjective root Ubod ng talino ang bata.
(The kid is very smart.)
ubod ng talinong bata
(a very smart kid)
Saksakan ng + adjective root Saksakan ng tamis ang mangga.
(The mango is very sweet.)
saksakan ng tamis na mangga
(a very sweet mango)
Puno ng + adjective root Puno ng saya ang salu-salo.
(The party was so much fun.)
puno ng sayang salu-salo
(a very enjoyable party)