“Big,” “bigger,” and “biggest” are some of English’s most common words for comparison. But is “biggest” the correct word to use?
It is correct to use the word “biggest” to refer to something as the largest scale, intensity, or size when comparing it to others. The word “big” is an adjective that you’ll mainly use to show that something is significant in size, and “biggest” is the superlative form of “big.” A superlative adjective shows the highest degree of comparison.
Understanding superlatives and the meaning of essential words such as “big” is critical in English. Keep reading if you’d like to learn more or just need a quick refresher.
What Is the Meaning of “Big”?
The word “big” is an adjective that describes the size of something. Adjectives are words that modify a noun or pronoun (source). Adjectives typically add to a sentence and make the meaning clearer.
You use adjectives to describe what you’re speaking about. You can use them to show:
- Appearance (ugly, handsome, etc.)
- Personality (funny, annoying, etc.)
- Size (short, large, etc.)
- More abstract descriptive words (important, free, etc.)
The adjective “big” is especially useful because it can have multiple meanings (source). The word “big” can show:
- Age (informally)
- And exaggeration (informally as well).
What “Big” Means in Formal Writing
Let’s begin with using “big” to indicate size or amount. Essentially, in most sentences, you’ll use “big” to refer to the size of something, specifically, how large it is:
- Sheila had a big house.
The example is easy — it tells the reader that Sheila literally has a sizable house. However, sometimes you can describe abstract concepts as big — think of someone having big dreams or a big ego.
The second way you can use “big” is to show something important or popular. Take, for example, the below sentence:
- Adele is one of the biggest singers in the world right now.
In this sentence, “big” stands in place of “most popular.” We know that Adele as a singer is both well-known and influential.
What “Big” Means in Informal Writing
You can also use “big” informally. Just keep in mind that you’re discouraged from using “big” in these ways if you’re writing in an academic context. In these cases, “big” can refer to age or as a way to exaggerate something:
- I had never met a bigger joker in my life.
In this sentence, the word “big” creates an exaggeration. The person that the speaker met is not just any joker. They’re an extreme joker, unlike anyone the speaker has met before.
Is It Correct to Say “More Big”?
In short, no. “More big” stands in place of the comparative adjective form of big. Because “big” only contains a single syllable, its comparative form ends with -ger: “bigger.”
So instead of using “more big,” you should use the correct comparative form, “bigger.”
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Biggest?”
“Biggest” is the superlative form of “big,” so it is grammatically correct to say, “biggest.” The word has multiple functions as a superlative adjective. You would use it to describe something which is either the largest or to the biggest extent, or the most important.
- I am your biggest fan!
The above example is grammatically correct because it contains all of the essential parts of a sentence. The speaker uses “biggest” to compare themselves to all other fans.
You can break down the adjective “big” into three basic degrees of comparison.
|Word||Type of Adjective||Purpose|
|Big||Positive||Used only to describe, not to compare.|
|Bigger||Comparative||Used to compare two things.|
|Biggest||Superlative||Used to compare three or more things and describe the one with the highest quality or quantity.|
What Does Biggest Mean?
You should understand from the previous section that you would mainly use the adjective “big” to describe something significant, mainly in stature. So you would use “biggest” to describe something you consider the largest.
Again, superlatives are words that you can use to compare three or more things and say that something is “the most” of a specific quality or quantity.
- Noon was the biggest cat I’d ever seen.
- She owned the biggest pool in the neighborhood.
The cat, Noon, and the pool are the largest “things” in these two examples.
There are some instances where you can use “biggest” to describe an entity or quality that isn’t physical, such as in the below sentences:
James has the biggest heart I have ever known.
Health advocates have found the weight loss in The Biggest Loser to be unsustainable.
While both sentences follow the typical adjective plus noun format, the nouns they include are not physical objects.
In the first sentence, you see the “biggest heart.” And, while that could be literal if a doctor were speaking, it is more likely that the speaker is using it figuratively.
In English, a “big heart” is a noun phrase. A person with a big heart is generous and kind. So someone with the “biggest” heart exemplifies these qualities.
The second sentence shows the literal and figurative meaning of “biggest.” The Biggest Loser is a reality TV series where obese contestants lose weight in a competition. You can analyze the title of the show in two ways:
“Biggest” refers to the contestant’s weight, or it can refer to the extent of something. So, the “biggest loser” is a person who loses the most weight or is a loser to the largest extent.
When Can You Use “Biggest?”
You can use “biggest” to describe an object (abstract or physical) as large or important. Just keep in mind the grammar rules you need to follow while writing because “biggest” can fit at various points in a sentence.
How Do You Use “Biggest”?
“Biggest” is a superlative adjective, which means it modifies a noun or pronoun. Most commonly, you’ll see it precede a noun:
- She is the biggest Jonas Brothers fan.
- Kim lived in the biggest house on the block.
Keep in mind that sometimes there’ll be two adjectives, so “biggest” may not come directly before the noun:
- Version 4.5 was the biggest and best update so far.
However, at times, the noun can also come before the superlative:
- The chocolate was the biggest I had ever seen.
- Black Friday sales are the biggest!
The chocolate is physically the biggest, while the “Black Friday Sales” are the biggest because (we assume) they offer the best deals on the largest amount of products.
So, you can use the adjective “biggest” at various points in your sentence.
Using “Biggest” in a Full Sentence
“Biggest” cannot stand independently as a complete sentence. Remember, it is a superlative adjective and needs a noun or a noun phrase to modify.
You may also notice some patterns. For example, you would precede the word “biggest” with “the” most of the time:
- That was the biggest lie I’d ever heard.
- Suddenly, he had the biggest grin on his face.
“The” is a definitive article. When we use “the,” we establish there is only one of something. Sometimes, there are other words — specifically pronouns or names — that precede biggest:
- My biggest fear is heights.
- Charlie’s biggest priority was finishing her essay on time.
In What Context Can You Use Biggest?
You can use “biggest” in many contexts. As we’ve mentioned previously, the context is generally correct as long as you are using it to compare one thing to two or more other things or ideas to show that it is the most or highest degree.
There are some contexts where using it might not technically be incorrect, but it would be discouraged.
When Not to Use Biggest
Using “biggest” to exaggerate in a formal/educational document often isn’t ideal. “Biggest” is quite a basic word, and using it to show hyperbole makes your work come across as not serious or objective.
Try to avoid sentences like the ones below when writing:
- Thomas Edison had the biggest impact on our present-day lives.
- Albert Einstein was the biggest physicist the world had ever known.
While such sentences aren’t technically wrong, they aren’t formal.
Also, note that determining the most influential person is typically subjective. So while we might not always agree on who’s the most significant, we can tell who’s had an impact based on their work and how others perceive it.
Therefore, rather than describing someone as the biggest, you should find substitutes, such as these below:
- Thomas Edison’s inventions continue to impact the world, even today.
- Albert Einstein remains an influential figure in the study of physics.
You can use “biggest” in academic contexts non-hyperbolically, such as if you’re referring to the largest size or amount of something.
- The biggest group consisted of 27 participants.
- The Burj Khalifa is the biggest Skyscraper in the world.
What Can You Use Instead of “Biggest”?
“Biggest” has a lot of synonyms. For example, if you’re using “biggest” to refer to the size of something, some useful synonyms are “largest,” “hugest,” or “most immense.”
However, other words aren’t exactly the same connotatively, so there may be better substitutes at times. Consider the example we used previously:
- The Burj Khalifa is the biggest Skyscraper in the world.
You can substitute “the biggest” with “the tallest.” You can also substitute “biggest” with “widest” if you’re referring to something big horizontally.
When you’re using “biggest” to refer to influence, potential substitutes are “most influential,” most significant,” or “most popular.”
Is It Correct to Say “Most Biggest”?
As you’ve seen previously, we often attach “most” to adjectives to form superlatives. For example, the superlative form of “stunning” is “most stunning.” However, we know “biggest” is already a superlative adjective, so we are creating redundancy by adding “most” ahead of it.
This is because “biggest” means “most big” already. If you say “most biggest,” you are saying “most most big,” which is neither technically nor grammatically correct.
Is It Correct To Say “Far More Bigger”?
It is not correct to say “far more bigger” for the same reason that it’s not correct to say “most biggest” — it is redundant.
“Bigger” already tells us something is larger than something else, and “more” functions the same way. So its meaning becomes “far more more big,” which is also incorrect.
You can use “far more” in other sentences, but only if it precedes the positive form of an adjective. In this case, the word “more” makes it the comparative form of the adjective.
- He was far more kind than I deserved.
However, you can also use “far bigger” to exaggerate or stress the size of something. This is because by getting rid of “more,” you get rid of the redundancy. For example:
- The kingdom was far bigger than Fiona remembered it.
If you want to understand more about degrees of comparison, make sure to check out the article “Clearer or More Clearer: Understanding the Proper Usage of Degrees of Comparison.”
The Superlative Form of Single-Syllable Adjectives
In general, to make the superlative form of a simple adjective (with one syllable), you take the base form and add -est.
- Small → Smallest
- Fast → Fastest
However, you’ll see that doesn’t always work. Take, for example, the word “big.” If we only add “-est” to “big,” it becomes “bigest.” And as you can tell, that doesn’t look right — we’re missing a second “g.”
This is due to the nature of consonant and vowel sounds. Vowels are the sounds “a, e, i, o, and u,” while consonants are all other sounds.
You will only double the final letter if the noun ends with a consonant plus vowel plus consonant. So in the case of “big,” you’ll notice the pattern below:
When making “big” a superlative, you need to double the final letter before adding -est. So the superlative of “big” is actually “biggest.”
If a noun ends in a vowel (or “y” or “w”), you won’t repeat the letter or will replace it with an “i.” Here are two examples:
- Slow → Slowest
- Hazy → Haziest
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Finally, if a noun ends in a vowel-consonant-consonant or vowel-vowel-consonant format, it will still end with the conventional -est in its superlative form.
Comparisons can be complicated, especially when you’re dealing with three or more things. That’s precisely why we need the superlative form. And one of the most useful and common superlatives is the word “biggest.”
“Biggest” is the correct way to refer to the largest of three or more things. So whether you’re talking about height, width, breadth, length, or volume, it’s always a good idea to keep “biggest” in mind.