Worse vs Worst – Learn When to Use Each One Correctly
Worse vs worst is one of the most common word usage mistakes in the English language. Sometimes the English language can be a little confusing. Worse and worst are two words that commonly get misused.
When speaking, people generally know what you mean, but in writing you want to get it right. Since most people searching for “worse or worst” are most likely trying to get it correct for something they are writing, I will explain the two words so that you are sure to use them properly. For those of you who are looking to settle an argument with a friend regarding worse or worst, you will find your answer here too.
I’m a certified English teacher. I will explain when to use worse and when to use worst in simple to understand and easy to remember terms so that you are sure to never confuse the two again.
Worse vs Worst, Why All the Confusion?
Why is it so hard to determine whether you should be using the word worse or worst in a sentence? I believe understanding the proper usage of worse vs worst is such a challenge for most people simply because the two words sound so similar. Add to that the slight variations of pronunciation due to regional accents and it can be quite confusing.
Is the movie sequel worse than the original or worst? It’s that the worse movie ever or the worst? Learn the grammar rules of worse vs worst and never be confused again.
Learn the grammar rules for the word worse…
Worse is a comparative word, just like better only in the negative instead of the positive. This means when comparing two things, one will always be “worse” and not “worst” than the other.
Here are examples of the word “worse” used properly in a sentence:
- Margaret’s cooking is worse than Kim’s cooking.
- Wooden roller coasters are much worse than steel coasters.
- Cheer is worse than Tide about getting stains out.
- Artificial sweeteners are worse for your health than sugar.
Learn the grammar rules for the word worst…
While worse compares two items, worst is a superlative. Think of worst like best, only in the negative. When something is much more terrible than multiple items, it is the “worst” of them all.
Here are examples of worst used correctly in a sentence:
- That was the worst movie ever!
- I have the worst memory when it comes to names.
- The hottest part of the day is the worst time to do yard work in the summer months.
- Skunks are the worst smelling animals.
Common Idioms and Phrases Using Worse or Worst
One of the most confusing aspects of American English are our many idioms and colloquial phrases. Below are common idioms and phrases that use the words worse or worst.
- When worse comes to worst – This phrase simply means that a bad situation (one that was simply worse off than another) is now the most terrible that it could possibly be (it is now the worst). A modern take on this idiom is from bad to worse.
- Worst case scenario – This phrase is often misspoken with the word “worse” but the correct way to say it is with “worst.” The intention is you are planning for the worst possible outcome.
- None the worse for wear – This simply means that the challenge or extra effort didn’t leave the individual any worse off than they would be had they not applied themselves.
- Their bark is worse than their bite – This idiom simply compare a person’s persona (their bark) with their true character (their bite).
- Fate worse than death – This idiom compares the awful situation with death. Since you’re comparing two items you use “worse.”
- Take a turn for the worse – This is perhaps the phrase that is most often misspoken. The turn the person took was worse than their original course, therefore, you use “worse” and not “worst.”
Hopefully this helped you differentiate between Worse vs Worst. If not, leave a comment and we’ll try to explain it better.