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I know there are multiple ways to form the superlative degree in Russian:

  • Simple superlative, usually formed with the endings -ший / -шая / -шее / -шие (depending on genus and numerus).

  • Compound superlative, with самый / самая / самое / самые (depending on genus and numerus) combined with the respective adjective.

  • Comparative degree in conjunction with всего or всех.

However, I struggle with cases where there is no gender, i.e. when forming the superlative of adverbs. I would like to express these statements in Russian:

(1) Lena sings the loudest.

(2) Irina writes the most beautiful (has the most beautiful handwriting).

I came up with the following solutions:

(1) Лена поёт громче всех.

(2) Ирина пишет красивее всех.

While these translations express that the persons sing louder or write more beautiful than everybody else, they only imply the superlative indirectly. Is it possible to apply the simple superlative or compound superlative here as well? How to deal with the gender then?

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  • 1
    "Лена поет наиболее громко", "Ирина пишет наиболее красиво"
    – Alexander
    Dec 28 '18 at 21:19
  • 3
    worth pointing out that наиболее doesn't always sound natural, like, in my opinion, in Alexander's examples above Dec 28 '18 at 21:26
  • I gave "compound superlative" examples. While they are valid, they indeed would not be the first choices for a native speaker.
    – Alexander
    Dec 28 '18 at 21:36
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Your renderings are correct. In one sentence superlative can be formed with всего as well, which sound more natural in a reordered sequence.

(1) Lena sings the loudest. - Громче всего (всех) поёт Лена

This is when there's a need to stress who specifically sings the loudest in a group of people.

всех conveys a sense of superiority within a collective of individuals either finite or unlimited.

Superlative degree fashioned with всего may mean superiority in other terms and be qualified by surrounding content, therefore the two types may not always be used interchangeably.

a) Ирина пишет красивее всех (Irina has the most beautiful handwriting [among her peers/all the people in the world])
b) Красивее всего Ирина писала, когда училась в школе (The most beautiful handwriting [of all times] Irina had while in school)

a) Сегодня я устал сильнее всех (Today i got tired more than anyone [of my co-workers])
b) Сегодня я устал сильней всего (Today [of all times] i got tired the most)

a) Названы регионы России, где пенсионеры живут хуже всего (the worst out of all Russian regions / worse than anywhere else in Russia)
b) Хуже всего людям жилось на Земле 1,5 тысячи лет назад (the worst out of all other periods / worst ever)

Some adverbs may assume synthetic superlative form in which case the gender is Neuter, but this form is rare.

Лена поёт тишайше

Я ему строжайше запретил

Покорнейше прошу (antiquated)

Ему всегда давали самую черную работу, и он ее усерднейше, кропотливейше выполнял (Е. Евтушенко).

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  • "Лена поет тишайше" sounds really outdated, while "строжайше запретил", "покорнейше прошу" and "усерднейше выполнял" do not compare the doer of the actions to any other people. These expressions just state that the actions were performed in the best possible for the doer manner.
    – Elena
    Dec 29 '18 at 19:59
  • "best possible for the doer manner" is also a superlative degree, you will find these or similar words in almost every chapter on superlative degree of Russian adverbs... as attempted to be shown in my answer superiority to other people or objects is just one type of superiority adverb superlative can be used to express Dec 29 '18 at 20:51

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