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Comparative and Superlative Adjectives in German

comparative

There are three adjective degrees in German:

Positive degree

This is the unmodified adjective.

Ich bin müde
I am tired

The comparative of equality and inferiority is formed with the positive degree:

Comparative of equality

Clauses of equality are formed with this construction:

so + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Peter ist so dünn wie Tomas
Peter is as thin as Tomas

or with the construction:

gleich + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Peter ist gleich ungelenk wie Tomas
Peter is as clumsy as Tomas

A very common usage is for comparing quantities of something. The structure is:

so + viel + NON-COUNT NOUN + wie /
so + viele + COUNT NOUN + wie

Ich habe so viel Geld wie du
I have as much money as you

Ich habe so viele Autos wie du
I have as many cars as you

Comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority's structure is:

nicht so + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Du bist nicht so intelligent wie ich
You're not as intelligent as me

Comparative degree

The comparative degree is for constructing the comparative of superiority.

The comparative grade is formed generally by adding "er" to the adjective:

intelligent intelligenter
intelligent more intelligent

Comparative of superiority

The comparative of superiority is formed with the construction:

ADJECTIVE IN COMPARATIVE DEGREE + als

Er ist stärker als ich
He is stronger than me

Peter ist dünner als Tomas
Peter is thinner than Tomas

Forming the comparative degree (special cases)

  • If the adjective ends with "-e", one "-r" is added (the "-e" is not doubled)

müde müder
tired more tired

feige feiger
cowardly more cowardly

  • de + "-er".

teuer teurer
expensive more expensive

dunkel dunkler
dark darker

  • If the adjective ends with "-er", it can be formed regularly with + "-er" or, like the previous case, by losing the last "-e" + "-er".

    lecker leckerer / leckrer
    delicious more delicious

    sauber sauberer / saubrer
    clean cleaner

  • If an adjective is a monosyllable, an "Umlaut" ( ¨ ) + "er" is added (usually with vowels a, o, y and u). This also happens with the superlative degree.

krank kränker
sick sicker

Comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority is formed with the construction:

weniger + ADJECTIVE + als

Er ist weniger intelligent als ich
He is less intelligent than me

Superlative degree

  • The superlative with the structure:

    am + Adjective in positive degree + -sten

    Whenever the adjective does not accompany a noun:

Welches Auto ist am billigsten?
Which car is the cheapest?

  • If an adjective is monosyllabic (just one syllable), with vowels a, o, y and u, an "Umlaut" ( ¨ ) + "-sten" is added.

    This also happens in the comparative degree.

krank am kränksten
sick sickest

  • When the adjective ends with one of the consonants: "-d", "-t", "-s", "-ß", "-sch", "-x" or "-z" an "-e-" is added between the adjective in the positive degree and the ending "-sten."

seriös am seriösesten
serious the most serious

süß am süßesten
sweet the sweetest

There are some exceptions as in:

dringend am dringendsten
urgent the most urgent

neidisch am neidischsten
jealous the most jealous

groß am größten
tall the tallest

Attributive Adjective. Superlative without 'am'

A frequent concern is about when to use am in the superlative and when not to. If the adjective is accompanied by a noun (the attributive form) am is not used.

Example:

Tata Nano ist das billigste Auto der Welt
Tata Nano is the cheapest car in the world

Irregular adjectives

The following adjectives form the comparative and superlative irregularly:

AdjectiveComparativeSuperlativeMeaning
gut besseram bestengood, better, the best
viel mehram meistenmuch, more, the most
gern lieberam liebstengladly, preferably,
most preferably
hoch höheram höchstenhigh, higher, highest
nahe näheram nächstennear, nearer, nearest

Difference between "wie" and "als" (wie vs als)

An additional explanation. "Wie" will be used for the comparative of equality, while "als" will be used for the comparative of superiority.

You can practice what you have learned by doing this exercise: Comparative and superlative exercise.



4 Comments

#4 [Ibrahim]2016-05-15 16:10
Great explanation, you made it very simple.

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