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Comparisons and superlative terms in Burmese

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the

အလှဆုံး | a-hla1 zone3 — prettiest

of them all? A judge's job is never easy. You cannot give a perfect score every time a contestant comes up on stage and starts gyrating in different fashion. You need to look for something special — a wanting smile, enchanting eye contact, a natural poise that captures your imagination, flowing movements in rhythm with every beat of the music, and a perfect choice of wardrobe that complements the figure well, and yet not too revealing.

Who is prettiest?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the အလှဆုံး | a-hla1-zone3 (prettiest) of them all? A judge's job is never easy. You cannot give a perfect score every time a contestant comes up on stage and starts gyrating in different fashion. You need to look for something special — a wanting smile, enchanting eye contact, a natural poise that captures your imagination, flowing movements in rhythm with every beat of the music, and a perfect choice of wardrobe that complements the figure well, and yet not too revealing. ဟဲလေး [51 seconds]

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Helay | ဟဲလေး | heare3 lay3

Never compare yourself with the others, says the wise. Normally, the word "conceit" in English and မာန | ma2-na1 in Burmese is associated with someone who considers oneself to be superior than the others.

Interestingly, "Mana" in Pali language is the conceit "I" that not only compares oneself to be superior than the others. When one considers oneself equal to or inferior than the others, that is also conceit. All three types of comparisons are rooted in the false concept of "I" ego entity that keeps us binding in the cycle of suffering known as သံသရာ | thun2-dtha1-ya2 (Samsara in Pali), according to the ancient wisdom.

However, for practical purposes, we cannot get away with words of comparisons. This is good. That is better. This one is the best. She is taller than I. He is the tallest and the biggest, and so on.

This is better, taller, bigger, worse, smaller, shorter

The burmese adjective word

ပို | po2

which roughly means "more", is used to describe that something or someone is better, taller, bigger, and so on. However, it should be noted that "more" in degree can go in either positive or negative direction. For example, "more short" means shorter. "More bad" means worse.

Try to see the pattern in sentence construction. The format is...

ဒါပို xxxx တယ်

da2 po2 xxxx deare2

where you substitute xxxx with the adjective of your choice.


da2 po2 koun3 deare2

This is better. (this + more + good + affirmative)


da2 po2 hso3 deare2

This is worse. (this + more + bad + affirmative)


da2 po2 shay2 deare2

This is longer. (this + more + long + affirmative)


da2 po2 toh2 deare2

This is shorter. (this + more + short + affirmative)


da2 po2 kji3 deare2

This is bigger. (this + more + big + affirmative)


da2 po2 ngeare2 deare2

This is smaller. (this + more + small + affirmative)

Which one is better?

You should also learn to put comparisons in the form of questions. They follow the same pattern, so I will just give one example.

ဘယ်ဟာ | beare2 ha2 — which

ပို | po2 — more

ကောင်း | koun3 — good

သလဲ | dtha1-leare3 — ?

ဘယ်ဟာ ပိုကောင်းသလဲ

beare2 ha2 po2 koun3 dtha1-leare3

Which (one) is better?

that which is

ဒါ | da2 (pronoun) means "this".

တာ | da2 (particle) is reference to the object "which is" or "that which is".

The example below shows how တာ | da2 modifies the adjective

ပိုကြီး | po2 kji3bigger

into a noun phrase

ပိုကြီးတာ | po2 kji3 da2that which is bigger.

ပို | po2 — more

ကြီး | kji3 — big

တာ | da2 — that which is

လိုချင် | lo2 chin2 — want

တယ် | deare2 — affirmative

ပိုကြီးတာ လိုချင်တယ်

po2 kji3 da2 lo2 chin2 deare2

I want the bigger one.

ပိုကြီးတာ ပိုကောင်းတယ်

po2 kji3 da2 po2 koun3 deare2

The bigger, the better. (more + big + "which is" + more + good + affirmative)

Bigger than this

In the above examples, I am pointing to something and say this is bigger, and so on. What if I want to say something is bigger than this that I am pointing at? In that case, you need to use

ဒီထက် | de2 htetmore than this

instead of ဒါ | da2 (this).


de2 htet po2 kji3 deare2

It's bigger than this. ("more than this" + more + big + affirmative)


de2 htet po2 koun3 deare2

It's better than this. ("more than this" + more + good + affirmative)


de2 htet po2 hso3 deare2

It's worse than this. ("more than this" + more + bad + affirmative)

Colder and hotter (warmer) than this

How's the weather in Toronto (compared to Yangon)?


de2 htet po2 ay3 deare2

It's colder than this. ("more than this" + more + cool + affirmative)

You can replace pronoun ဒီ | de2 (this) in the above sentence with the proper noun Yangon like this:

ရန်ကုန်ထက် ပိုအေးတယ်

Yangon htet po2 ay3 deare2

It's colder than Yangon. (Yangon + more than or above + more + cool + affirmative)

We will now build up a longer sentence.

တိုရန်တို | Toronto

က | ga1 — is (PPM that makes "Toronto" subject)

ရန်ကုန် | Yangon

ထက် | htet — more than or above

ပို | po2 — more

အေး | ay3 — cool

တယ် | deare2— affirmative

တိုရန်တို က ရန်ကုန် ထက် ပိုအေးတယ်

Toronto ga1 Yangon htet po2 ay3 deare2

Toronto is colder than Yangon.

ရန်ကုန်က တိုရန်တို ထက် ပိုပူတယ်

Yangon ga1 Toronto htet po2 pu2 deare2

Yangon is warmer than Toronto.

Toronto is Colder than Yangon

Much colder than this

Actually, the weather in Toronto is much, much colder than Yangon. If you compare Yangon to Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin), a tourist attraction in Myanmar, it is quite appropriate to say

ဒီထက်ပိုအေးတယ် | de2 htet po2 ay3 deare2.

But, if you compare Yangon to Toronto, it's better to stress that Toronto is "much" colder. The Burmese word for indefinite pronoun "much" in such a situation is

အများကြီး | a-mya3-ji3.

It literally means "so many" or "great quantity".

ဒီထက် | de2 htet — more than this

အများကြီး | a-mya3-ji3 — great quantity (equivalent to much more)

ပို | po2 — to exceed

အေး | ay3 — cool

တယ် | deare2 — affirmative.

ဒီထက် အများကြီး ပိုအေးတယ်

de2 htet a-mya3-ji3 po2 ay3 deare2

It's much colder than this!

တိုရန်တို က ရန်ကုန် ထက် အများကြီး ပိုအေးတယ်

Toronto ga1 Yangon htet a-mya3-ji3 po2 ay3 deare2

Toronto is much colder than Yangon.

So, you can say

အေးတယ် | ay3 deare2

if the object or the environment has a low temperature. Likewise,

ပူတယ် | pu2 deare2

means the object or the weather has a high temperature.

Burmese language has a different word if your body feels cold due to the weather. If you're shivering in sub-zero temperature, you say

ချမ်းတယ် | chan3 deare2.

Perhaps, the more useful word that you can say is

အိုက်တယ် | ike deare2

if you are sweating under the sweltering heat in the hottest month around April in Myanmar.

Words such as "feel cold", "feel warm", "feel happy", and "feel sad" are one-syllable verbs. Those stand-alone verbs are not complete sentences by themselves, but the sense equivalent to English verbs "be" or "feel" is already included. In comparison, words such as "happy" "sad", "warm", and "cold" in English are adjectives.

So, in "feel cold" word ချမ်း | chan3, "feel" is already included as opposed to adjective အေး | ay3 for "cold" weather.


ပူလိုက်တာ | pu2 lite da2The weather is so hot (to the extreme).

အိုက်လိုက်တာ | ike lite da2I feel so hot!

Be careful with pronunciation. pu2 is pronounced like poo2, not pa1-yu2.

This is the biggest one!

For superlatives in Burmese such as the best, the biggest, and the tallest, etc., the adjective is sandwiched between the prefix particle "a" and suffix particle "zone3" in this pattern:

အ xxxx ဆုံး | a-xxxx zone3.


အကြီးဆုံး | a-kji3 zone3the biggest

အမြင့်ဆုံး | a-myin1 zone3the tallest

အရှည်ဆုံး | a-shay2 zone3the longest

အအေးဆုံး | a-ay3 zone3the coldest

အကောင်းဆုံး | a-koun3 zone3the best

ဒါ | da2 — this

အကြီးဆုံး | a-kji3 zone3 — the biggest

ပဲ | beare3 — exactly!

ဒါ အကြီးဆုံး ပဲ

da2 a-kji3 zone3 beare3

This is the biggest!

Just like in English, superlatives in Burmese cover the extremes in both directions to include the best and the worst, the biggest and the smallest, the tallest and the shortest, and so on.


အသေးဆုံး | a-thay3 zone3the smallest

အတိုဆုံး | a-toh2 zone3the shortest (for objects such as roads and ropes)

အပုဆုံး | a-pu1 zone3the shortest (for height of a person)

အပူဆုံး | a-pu2 zone3the hottest

အဆိုးဆုံး | a-hso3 zone3the worst

By the way, did you notice that there is just a slight tone difference between the shortest (person) and the hottest?

အပျော်ဆုံးနေ့ | a-pyau2 zone3 nay1

means happiest day. For Burmese people of all ages, it comes in Mid April every year when Water Festivals and New Year are celebrated. And it is not a single day.

In 2017, the government of Myanmar had announced the plan to cut the New Year holidays from 10 days to 5. The announcement which came too close to the holidays was reverted back after the public responded with much anger and dissatisfaction.

The shorter Water Festival holidays started in 2018. The five lost days are now redistributed with other holidays in cooler months.
Myanmar's Happiest Time

Myanmar's Happiest Time. Without a doubt, Myanmar Thingyan Water Festival Celebrations are the happiest times of the year for children and adults of all ages. (45 seconds)

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Monday, May 2, 2016
အိမ့်ချစ် | Eint Chit

Comparing people

Instead of saying, "this is the best" in reference to the object, can we make comparisons between people? How would you say he is the best and the brightest?

သူ | thu2 — he or she

အတော်ဆုံး | a-tau2 zone3 — the best and the brightest

ပဲ | beare3 — exactly!

သူ အတော်ဆုံးပဲ

thu2 a-tau2 zone3 beare3

He/she is the best and the brightest.

Superlatives in the form of questions

Just like "better", we will now learn to put superlative terms in the form of questions. Since the pattern is the same for such questions, I will give just one example.

ဘယ်ဟာ | beare2 ha2 — which "thing" (adjective)

အကောင်းဆုံး | a-koun3 zone3 — the best; good to the extreme position (adjective)

လဲ | leare3 — ? (particle)

ဘယ်ဟာ အကောင်းဆုံးလဲ

beare2 ha2 a-koun3 zone3 leare3

Which (one) is the best?

Who is the best?

Similarly, you can ask who is the best, the tallest, the shortest, or the brightest, etc..

ဘယ်သူ | beare2 dthu2 — who (which + person)

အတော်ဆုံး | a-tau2 zone3 — the best and the brightest

လဲ | leare3 — ?

ဘယ်သူ အတော်ဆုံးလဲ

beare2 dthu2 a-tau2 zone3 leare3

Who is the best?

When is the best time?

Here's an another useful question that you can ask.

ဘယ်အချိန် | beare2 a-chain2 — when (which + time)

အကောင်းဆုံး | a-koun3 zone3 — the best

လဲ | leare3 — ?

ဘယ်အချိန် အကောင်းဆုံးလဲ

beare2 a-chain2 a-koun3 zone3 leare3

When is the best time?

Superlatives as adverbs

It is possible to use the same superlative word as an adjective or an adverb depending on the sentence construction.

For example,

အကောင်းဆုံး အားကစားသမား

a-koun3 zone3 ah3-ga1-za3 dtha1-ma3

the best athlete (best [adjective] + athlete [noun])

အကောင်းဆုံး လုပ်ပေးပါ

a-koun3 zone3 loat pay3 ba2

Please do the best for me. (best [adverb] + do [verb] + request [particle])

In the second sentence, "the best" refers to "how" of the verb "do". So, it is an adverb.

Superlatives as nouns

It is also possible for superlatives to be used as nouns. Grade 11 Myanmar Grammar students are taught that to construct such a sentence, there MUST NOT be a noun adjacent to the superlative as in the best "athlete" example shown above.

It's like in English where "best" can be either an adjective as in the "best athlete", or the noun which refers to the person who is most outstanding.

Here is an example of literary Burmese sentence:

သစ်များ | thit mya3 — wood (noun) + plural (particle)

တွင် | dwin2 — equivalent to "in", "at", "among" (postpositional marker)

အကောင်းဆုံး | a-koun3 zone3 — best (noun)

သည် | dthi2 — equivalent to "is"; makes "best" the subject (postpositional marker)

ကျွန်းသစ် | kjoon3-thit — teak (noun)

ဖြစ်သည် | pfyit dthi2 — be; happen to be (verb) + ending affirmative word (postpositional marker)

သစ်များ တွင် အကောင်းဆုံး သည် ကျွန်းသစ် ဖြစ်သည် thit mya3 dwin2 a-koun3 zone3 dthi2 kjoon3-thit pfyit dthi2

Teak is the best among the woods.

Where is the highest mountain in the World?

Now, for the last part, we will build up the အရှည်ဆုံး | a-shay2 zone3 (longest) sentence of this lesson.

ကမ္ဘာ | ga1-ba2 — the World

ပေါ်မှာ | pau2 hma2 — on (equivalent to preposition "in")

အမြင့်ဆုံး | a-myin1 zone3 — the tallest

တောင် | toun2 — mountain

ဘယ်မှာ | beare2 hma2 — where at

ရှိ | shi1 — exist

လဲ | leare3 — ?

ကမ္ဘာပေါ်မှာ အမြင့်ဆုံးတောင် ဘယ်မှာရှိလဲ

ga1-ba2 pau2 hma2 a-myin1 zone3 toun2 beare2 hma2 shi1 leare3

Where is the highest mountain in the World?

Color Codes: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, interjections.


Superlatives in Myanmar Language | အမြင့်ဆုံး နှင့် အနိမ့်ဆုံး ဝိသေသများ
best အကောင်းဆုံး | a-koun3 zone3
best/brightest person အတော်ဆုံး | a-tau2 zone3
biggest အကြီးဆုံး | a-kji3 zone3
brightest (light) အလင်းဆုံး | a-lin3 zone3
busiest အလုပ်အရှုပ်ဆုံး | a-loat a-shoat zone3
cheapest ဈေးအပေါဆုံး | zay3 a-pau3 zone3
cleanest အသန့်ဆုံး | a-thun1 zone3
coldest (temperature) အအေးဆုံး | a-ay3 zone3
coldest (feeling) အချမ်းဆုံး | a-chan3 zone3
dampest; wettest အစိုဆုံး | a-so2 zone3
darkest (room) အမှောင်ဆုံး| a-hmoun2 zone3
deepest (ocean) အနက်ဆုံး | a-net zone3
dirtiest အညစ်ပတ်ဆုံး | a-nyit-pup zone3
driest အခြောက်ဆုံး | a-chout zone3
earliest အစောဆုံး | a-sau3 zone3
easiest to learn, method, etc.. အလွယ်ဆုံး | a-lweare2 zone3
eldest အကြီးဆုံး | a-kji3 zone3
fastest အမြန်ဆုံး | a-myan2 zone3
fattest အဝဆုံး | a-wa1 zone3
funniest အရယ်ရဆုံး | a-yi2-ya1 zone3
furthest အဝေးဆုံး | a-way3 zone3
happiest အပျော်ဆုံး | a-pyau2 zone3
hardest (subject, language) အခက်ဆုံး | a-khet zone3
hardest (material) အမာဆုံး | a-ma2 zone3
heaviest အလေးဆုံး | a-lay3 zone3
highest အမြင့်ဆုံး | a-myin1 zone3
hottest (temperature felt) အအိုက်ဆုံး | a-ike zone3
most refreshing (girl) အလန်းဆုံး | a-lun3 zone3
hottest (temperature) အပူဆုံး | a-pu2 zone3
kindest / most generous သဘောအကောင်းဆုံး | dtha1-bau3 a-koun3-zone3
latest (fashion) နောက်ဆုံးပေါ် | nout hsone3 bau2
latest (time) နောက်အကျဆုံး | nout a-kja1 zone3
laziest အပျင်းဆုံး | a-pyin3 zone3
least expensive ဈေးအချိုဆုံး | zay3 a-cho2 zone3
lightest in weight အပေါ့ဆုံး | a-pau1 zone3
longest အရှည်ဆုံး | a-shay2 zone3
loudest အကျယ်ဆုံး | a-kjeare2 zone3
lowest (degree or point); rock bottom အနိမ့်ဆုံး | a-nain1 zone3
lowest (object's height) အနိမ့်ဆုံး | a-nain1 zone3
lowest (price) အပေါဆုံး | a-pau3 zone3
lowest (sound volume) အတိုးဆုံး | a-toe3 zone3
most accurate အမှန်ဆုံး | a-hmun2 zone3
most applicable အသက်ဆိုင်ဆုံး | a-thet-hsine2 zone3
most bitter (taste) အခါးဆုံး| a-kha3 zone3
most beautiful အလှဆုံး | a-hla1 zone3
most compassionate အကြင်နာတတ်ဆုံး | a-kjin2-na2-tut zone3
most complicated အရှုပ်ဆုံး | a-shoat zone3
most cruel အရက်စက်ဆုံး | a-yet-set zone3
most dependable အားအကိုးရဆုံး | ah3 a-ko3-ya1 zone3
most despicable အယုတ်မာဆုံး | a-yoat-ma2 zone3
most economical; most frugal အချွေတာဆုံး | a-chway2-ta2 zone3
most expensive ဈေးအကြီးဆုံး | zay3 a-kji3 zone3
most fragrant အမွှေးဆုံး | a-hmway3 zone3
most hard-working အကြိုးစားဆုံး | a-kjo3-za3 zone3
most influential ဩဇာအရှိဆုံး | au3-za2 a-shi1 zone3
most intense အပြင်းထန်ဆုံး | a-pyin3-htan2 zone3
most lengthy in time အကြာဆုံး | a-kja2 zone3
most modern ခေတ်အမှီဆုံး | khit a-hmi2 zone3
most natural သဘာဝအကျဆုံး | dtha-ba2-wa1 a-kja1 zone3
most populous လူဦးရေအများဆုံး | lu2-u3-yay2 a-mya3 zone3
most powerful; the one with most physical strength အားအရှိဆုံး | ah3 a-shi1 zone3
most influential and powerful ဩဇာအာဏာအရှိဆုံး | au3-za2 ah2-na2 a-shi1 zone3
most profitable အမြတ်အရဆုံး | a-myut a-ya1 zone3
most secluded အသီးသန့်ဆုံး | a-thi3-thun1 zone3
most useful အသုံးကျဆုံး | a-thone3-kja1 zone3
most valuable တန်ဘိုးအရှိဆုံး | tan2-bo3 a-shi1 zone3
narrowest အကျဉ်းဆုံး | a-kjin3 zone3
nearest အနီးဆုံး | a-ni3 zone3
poorest အဆင်းရဲဆုံး | a-hsin3-yeare3 zone3
prettiest ရုပ်အချောဆုံး | yoat a-chau3 zone3
purest အသန့်စင်ဆုံး | a-thun1-sin2 zone3
rarest အရှားဆုံး | a-sha3 zone3
richest အချမ်းသာဆုံး | a-chan3-dtha2 zone3
saddest ဝမ်းအနည်းဆုံး | wun3 a-neare3 zone3
shallowest အတိမ်ဆုံး | a-tain2 zone3
shortest (object) အတိုဆုံး | a-toh2 zone3
shortest (person) အပုဆုံး | a-pu1 zone3
simplest အရှင်းဆုံး | a-shin3 zone3
skinniest အပိန်ဆုံး | a-pain2 zone3
slowest အနှေးဆုံး | a-hnay3 zone3
smallest အသေးဆုံး | a-thay3 zone3
smartest ဉာဏ်အရှိဆုံး | nyan2 a-shi1 zone3
softest material အပျော့ဆုံး | a-pyau1 zone3
soonest အလျှင်မြန်ဆုံး | a-hlyin2-myan2 zone3
stingiest ကပ်စေးအနှဲဆုံး | kut-si3 a-neare3 zone3
strongest အားအရှိဆုံး | ah3 a-shi1 zone3
sweetest (girl) ချစ်စရာအကောင်းဆုံး | chit sa1-ya2 a-koun3 zone3
sweetest (taste) အချိုဆုံး | a-cho2 zone3
tallest အမြင့်ဆုံး | a-myin1 zone3
thickest အထူဆုံး | a-htu2 zone3
thinnest (material) အပါးဆုံး | a-pa3 zone3
ugliest ရုပ်အဆိုးဆုံး | yoat a-hso3 zone3
weakest အားအနည်းဆုံး | ah3 a-neare3 zone3
widest အကျယ်ဆုံး | a-kjeare2 zone3
worst အဆိုးဆုံး | a-hso3 zone3
worst performing person အညံ့ဆုံး | a-nyan1 zone3
youngest အငယ်ဆုံး | a-ngeare2 zone3