Forming the superlative of French adjectives in complex cases

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

How to form more complex superlatives in French

Look at this example:

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 that you can also say (thought it's usually considered less elegant):

Marie est la plus intelligente fille de la classe.
Marie is the smartest girl in the class.
Note also that where in English we use the preposition in after the superlative (in the class, in France, in the world), in French we use de (de la classe, de France, du monde).

Here are more examples of these superlative sentences:

La Californie est l'état le plus riche des États-Unis.California is the richest state in America.

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

Marseille est la deuxième plus grande ville de France.Marseille is the second biggest city in France.

Qui sont les trois artistes les plus célèbres du Québec ?Who are the three most famous artists in Quebec?

See also the related Le/la/les plus and Le/la/les moins = The most and the least (Superlative with Adjectives in French)

 

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Examples and resources

Jean est le garçon le plus mignon de l'école.John is the cutest boy in the school
La Californie est le plus riche état des États-Unis.California is the richest state in America.
La Californie est l'état le plus riche des États-Unis.California is the richest state in America.
Marseille est la deuxième plus grande ville de France.Marseille is the second biggest city in France.
Qui sont les trois artistes les plus célèbres du Québec ?Who are the three most famous artists in Quebec?
Jean est le plus mignon garçon de l'école.John is the cutest boy in the school.
Thinking...