Would you say you are good at learning German? We are sure your German is getting better day by day. But, which language do you speak the best?
Noticed what I did there? I used the adjective “good” in its comparative form – “better” as well as its superlative form – “best”.
The German comparative and superlative adjectives are quite similar to the ones in English. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to form these and how to use them in sentences. So, let’s jump into the details right away!
What are the degrees of German adjectives
Just like English, the three degrees of adjectives in German are:- positive, comparative and superlative.
As you all know, adjectives are used to describe a person or an object. The basic form of an adjective that describes the noun is the positive form.
For example : Deutsch ist einfach. (German is easy.)
If the positive form of the adjective precedes the noun, then you need to add specific endings to it. You can learn more about this in our lesson on German Adjective Endings.
Now, let’s try to understand how positive adjectives can be used to make comparisons.
Positive Adjectives in German
The positive form of an adjective simply describes the noun. However, positive adjectives can also be used to compare the characteristics of two things or people that are equal.
The adjective is placed in between so (as) and wie (as / like).
For instance : Er ist so klug wie seine Mutter. (He is as smart as his mother.)
Depending on the context, other expressions that can be used are as follows:-
- genauso … wie – just as … as
- fast so … wie – almost as … as
- doppelt so … wie – twice as … as
- halb so … wie – half as … as
- nicht so … wie – not as … as
- so viel … wie – as much … as
- so viele … wie – as many … as
What are Comparatives and Superlatives
The comparative form of an adjective is used to compare two objects, people or actions that are not equal. We use comparative adjectives when we want to compare the qualities of two people or the characteristics of two things.
For example : Your painting is prettier than mine or He is naughtier than his brother.
The superlative forms are used when you want to signify that a person, thing or action cannot be outperformed. It is the highest form of comparison.
For example : She is the smartest kid in school.
If you know English adjective degrees really well, learning German comparative and superlative forms is going to be a piece of cake.
How to form German comparative and superlative adjectives
The German comparative and superlative forms are built by adding specific endings to the adjectives. These suffixes are similar to those in English.
Comparative Adjectives in German
To build comparative forms, add the ending -er to the adjective. When you want to use it in a sentence, add the word als (than) after the comparative adjective.
For instance : Deutsch ist einfacher als Französisch. (German is easier than French.)
In English, most of the comparatives are formed with -er and some are formed with the word “more”. In German, all the comparatives are always formed by adding –er. They are never formed with the word mehr (more).
For example, wichtiger (more important) or ehrlicher (more honest).
Superlative Adjectives in German
To build superlative forms and use them in a sentence, add the ending -sten or -esten to the adjective and place the word am (the) before the adjective. Depending on the context, we can also add -ste to the adjective and put the appropriate definite article before it.
- Deutsch ist am einfachsten. (German is the easiest.)
- Deutsch ist die einfachste Fremdsprache. (German is the easiest foreign language.)
The superlatives of adjectives ending with -d, -t, -s, -ß, -x or -z are formed with the suffix -esten. For example, am lautesten (the loudest).
In English, some superlatives are formed with the word “most”. However, all the superlatives in German are always formed by adding -sten or -esten.
For example, am wichtigsten (the most important) or am ehrlichsten (the most honest).
When German comparative and superlative adjectives precede a noun, they always take the appropriate adjective ending.
- Sein jüngeres Kind (his younger child.)
Irregular Adjectives in German
Well, here comes the most frustrating part of the language- Exceptions to the rule! Of course there are exceptions to the German comparative and superlative forms.
Some adjectives cannot be used as comparatives or superlatives. For instance- Adjectives that represent colors like gelb, rot etc. or compound adjectives like eiskalt, zuckersüß etc.
In case of single syllable adjectives with vowels (a, o or u), the comparatives and superlatives are formed with an umlaut.
- alt – älter – am ältesten (old – older – the oldest)
- groß – größer – am größten (big – bigger – the biggest)
- klug – klüger – am klügsten (smart – smarter – the smartest)
Adjectives ending with -el and -er drop the -e in comparative forms.
- dunkel – dunkler
- teuer – teurer
The German comparative and superlative forms of a few adjectives are completely different. You need to memorize them, because they follow no rules. These irregular adjectives are as follows:-
Listen to the podcast below to learn the correct pronunciations of the above adjectives.
The meanings of German comparative and superlative adjectives mentioned above are:-
- soon – sooner – the soonest
- good – better – the best
- like / gladly – to prefer to – most preferably
- high – higher – the highest
- near – nearer – the nearest
- much – more – the most
If you enjoyed learning this lesson, also check out the topic Relative sentences in German on your favorite blog “All About Deutsch”.
Want to learn more about German comparative and superlative adjectives? Take a look at this video on YouTube.
PS – On this blog, you will find grammar lessons just like this one, vocabulary lists divided subject-wise as well as articles related to countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland and a lot more. Keep scrolling, keep learning!