Adjectives in German: Comparing Things

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When the adjective does not stand in front of a noun:

Basic comparison forms of German adjectives - adjectives 'standing alone'
Basic Adjective Comparative Superlative
am schnellsten
am billigsten

Der Ford ist schnell. = The Ford is fast.

Der Subaru ist schneller (als der Ford). = The Subaru is faster (than the Ford). ["comparative" - comparing two things]

Der Porsche ist am schnellsten. = The Porsche is fastest. ["superlative" - comparing three or more things]

Der Ford ist (von den drei) am billigsten. = The Ford is cheapest (of the three). ["superlative" - comparing three or more things]

When the adjective stands in front of the noun it's describing:

Comparisons - German adjectives standing in front of the noun they describe
Basic Adjective Comparative Superlative
der schnelle ...
the fast ...
der schnellere ...
the faster ...
der schnellste ...(1)
the fastest ...
der billige ...
the cheap ...
der billigere ...
the cheaper ...
der billigste ...(1)
the cheapest ...

Der Ford ist der billige Wagen. = The Ford is the cheap car.

Der Ford ist der billigere Wagen von den zwei. = The Ford is the cheaper car of the two.

Der Ford ist der billigste Wagen von den drei hier. = The Ford is the cheapest car of the three here.

Die billigsten Wagen sind manchmal nicht sehr gut. = The cheapest cars are sometimes not very good.

[icon: post-it note](1) When making comparisons of things such as the biggest, most generous, most intelligent etc, as in the right-hand column above, German-speakers only need a single word, unlike English expressions such as the "most" generous, the "most" talented etc.

Adjectives that end in -d, -t, -s, -ss, -ß, or -sch add an e before the st (exception: groß >> am größten). For example: »die intelligenteste Person in meiner Klasse«

Adjectives of one syllable usually get an Umlaut when making comparisons. For example:

German adjectives that get an Umlaut in comparisons
Basic Adjective English Comparative Superlative
alt old älter am ältesten
arm poor ärmer am ärmsten
groß big größer am größten
hart hard härter am härtesten
jung young jünger am jüngsten
kalt cold kälter am kältesten
klug clever klüger am klügsten
krank ill kränker am kränksten
kurz short kürzer am kürzesten
lang long länger am längsten
oft often öfter am öftesten
schwach weak schwächer am schwächsten
stark strong stärker am stärksten
warm warm wärmer am wärmsten
Photo © D Nutting :: sign, »du bist stärker« etc

Werbeslogan in einem Baumarkt

Photo © D Nutting :: sign, »neuer, schöner, größer« etc

Informationen an einer Baustelle in der deutschen Stadt Kassel

Photo © D Nutting :: cog-railway car, »steilste« etc

»steilste Zahnradbahn der Welt« (steepest cog-railway of the world [Switzerland])

There are a few adjectives that do some weird things of their own:

German adjectives that change a lot in the Comparative
Basic Adjective Comparative Superlative
gern = willingly, like to lieber = preferably am liebsten = most preferably
gut = good besser = better am besten = best
hoch = high höher = higher am höchsten = highest
nah = near, close näher = nearer, closer am nächsten = nearest
viel = much, a lot of mehr = more am meisten = most

Examples of comparison:

Er ist so alt wie ich. = He is as old as I (am).

Wir sind gleich alt. = We are the same age.

Sie ist nicht so alt wie ich. = She is not as old as I (am).

Stefan ist älter als ich. = Stefan is older than I (am).

Sie ist die intelligenteste von allen. = She is the most intelligent of all.

even more interesting... | even better...

noch + adjective in comparative form

Der Film »Toy Story 2« ist noch besser als »Toy Story«! = The film "Toy Story 2" is even better than "Toy Story"!

Er ist noch schneller als ich. = He is even faster than I (am).

more and more interesting... better and better...

immer + adjective in comparative form

Das Buch »Harry Potter und der Halbblutprinz« ist toll! Die Geschichte wird immer interessanter! = The book "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is great! The story gets more and more interesting!

Das Wetter wird heute immer schlechter. = The weather today is getting worse and worse.

Photo © D Nutting :: advertisement in newspaper, »immer besser«

»immer besser« - We could interpret this ad two ways: 1) this German company says its products are always better than their rivals; 2) the company says the products it develops become better and better.

Practise this stuff:

  1. a gap-fill (multiple-choice) exercise on the comparative (travel focused) #1 (D Nutting)
  2. a match-up exercise on comparative adjectives in German #1, matching sentence-halves (Frau Lloyd)
  3. a match-up exercise on comparative adjectives in German #2, matching sentence-halves (Frau Lloyd)
  4. a Challenge game (1-player or 2-players) on comparative and superlative adjectives in German (Kristin Haase) [in this game, when she says 'superlative form', she means things like "am interessantesten"]
  5. a match-up exercise, comparing school subjects [matching meanings German/English] (Frau Ashburner)
  6. a match-up exercise on superlatives: The most "______" subject in school [matching meanings German/English] (Frau Ashburner)
  7. der Komparativ und Superlativ - Adjektive [sentences with gap-fill, some multiple-choice] (D Nutting)

Created by D Nutting