Comparative & Superlative in German

Forming the comparative and superlative forms of German adjectives can be confusing, so this post was designed to help take you from good, to better and on to the best (gut, besser, am besten). Ever needed to know the German word for higher, further, faster or the bestest most awesomest? By the end of this lesson, you will be able to change adjectives and adverbs in German from the original form, called the positive form into the comparative (higher, further, faster) or superlative (best, most often) form and use them in a variety of sentences. I’ll also help clear up some confusion about these things in English, as some native English speakers seem to have trouble in certain areas. This lesson assumes you already know how to use adjective endings in German. 

You can download all of the materials Herr Antrim has ever created about German adjectives in one bargain bundle here.

If you want to practice the skills that you learned from this post, you can get a worksheet and answer key to go with the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives here.

Comparative & Superlative Adjectives & Adverbs in German

TL;DR Version of Comparative & Superlative

If you don’t like reading all of the grammar explanations that I give in this post, you can get a general overview of the comparative and superlative forms in German by watching this old video from my 3 Minuten Deutsch series.

Comparative & Superlative Adjectives - 3 Minuten Deutsch #62 - Deutsch lernen

Comparative & Superlative Basics

Let’s start with the word “schnell”, which means “fast” in English. If you are using the adjective after the verb (we call this part of the sentence the predicate), we call it a predicate adjective. These adjectives, unlike the ones directly before nouns, don’t need adjective endings. We simply use them as they are. For example: 

Mein Auto ist schnell. –
My car is fast. 

Basic Formation of Comparative

Just as in English, most of the time, we add -er to the end of the adjective to form the comparative in German. So “fast” becomes “faster” and “schnell” becomes “schneller”. For example: 

Sein Auto ist schneller.
His car is faster. 

Basic Formation of Superlative

The superlative in German is similar to the English, but with a slight change. Instead of just saying “the fastest”, in German we add “am” in front of the adjective and -sten to create the superlative form. So all three forms including the positive form (the original adjective), the comparative (the -er version) and the superlative (the English -est and German -sten versions) of “fast” are: fast, faster, the fastest and in German schnell, schneller, am schnellsten. For example: 

schnell – schneller – am schnellsten
fast – faster – the fastest

Mein Auto ist schnell.
My car is fast. 

Sein Auto ist schneller.
His car is faster. 

Ihre Autos sind am schnellsten.
Their cars are the fastest. 

langsam – langsamer – am langsamsten
slow – slower – the slowest

Just for good measure, let’s try that again with “langsam”. 

Ihre Autos sind langsam.
Their cars are slow. 

Sein Auto ist langsamer.
His car is slower. 

Mein Auto ist am langsamsten. –
My car is the slowest. 

More Examples of the Most Basic Adjectives with Comparative & Superlative

schön – schöner – am schönsten
pretty – prettier – the prettiest

langweilig – langweiliger – am langweiligsten
boring – more boring – the most boring

vorsichtig – vorsichtiger – am vorsichtigsten
careful – more careful – the most careful

schwierig – schwieriger – am schwierigsten
difficult – more difficult – the most difficult

Adjectives vs Adverbs: What’s the Difference?

In English, we have to remember if a word is being used as an adjective or an adverb, as adverbs generally end with -ly. This shifts the way that we make the comparative form, as we change “slow” and “slower” to “slowly” and “more slowly”. For once, German grammar is simpler in this aspect. It doesn’t matter if we are using the word as a predicate adjective or an adverb, the comparative and superlative forms are the same. Let’s try those examples of “langsam” again, but this time as adverbs. 

langsam – langsamer – am langsamsten
slowly – more slowly – the slowest

Sie fahren ihre Autos langsam.
They drive their cars slowly. 

Er fährt sein Auto langsamer.
He drives his car more slowly. 

Ich fahre mein Auto am langsamsten.
I drive my car the slowest. 

Comparative & Superlative with “More” & “Most”?

German is even more easy… easier? Whatever. The point is that unlike in English, we don’t have to worry about whether to use “more” or “most” followed by the original version of certain adjectives or adverbs. In German it is ALWAYS -er and am *whatever*-sten with regular adjectives. Of course, there are irregular ones, but we will get to that in a bit. For now, here are a few more examples of adjectives that follow the most basic of standard comparative and superlative formation. 

eng – enger – am engsten
tight – tighter – the tightest 

dick – dicker – am dicksten
fat – fatter – the fattest

dünn – dünner – am dünnsten
thin – thinner – the thinnest 

steil – steiler – am steilsten
steep – steeper – the steepest 

Comparative & Superlative with Adjective Endings

The rules for comparative and superlative don’t change if you use them as adjectives before nouns. The only thing that changes is that you also add the adjective endings based on the case, gender and article with the noun. Adjectives take different endings depending upon the case and gender of the noun after adjective. This is still true when you use a comparative or superlative adjective. Now you have two endings one after the other. The first ending shows you the comparative or superlative form of the adjective. The second ending shows you the case and gender of the noun that follows. The following examples will show you the endings in sentences using the various German cases.

Examples of Comparative & Superlative with Adjective Endings

Ich mag die attraktivere Frau nicht so sehr, denn sie ist auch die nervigere Frau.
I don’t like the more attractive woman, because she is also the more annoying woman.

Dieses bequemere Sofa ist teurer als das härtere Sofa.
This more comfortable sofa is more expensive than the harder sofa.

Der reichste Mann kauft seiner schönen Frau die teuersten Diamanten.
The richest man buys his beautiful wife the most expensive diamonds.

Man soll den besten Käse mit dem besten Wein essen.
One should eat the best cheese with the best wine.

Get a FREE copy of Herr Antrim’s German adjective endings charts here. This includes a chart for adjectives after der-words, after ein-words and non-preceded. There is also a mega-chart that combines all three into one chart.

Be aware that if you use the comparative form of something, you add -er and sometimes your adjective ending will also be -er, which means you have -er twice in a row. This is not incorrect, even if it sounds weird. 

neu – neuer – am neuesten
new – newer – the newest

Ich fahre den neuen Sportwagen.
I am driving the new sports car. 

Ein neuerer Sportwagen ist mir lieber.
I prefer a newer sports car. 

Wir fahren die neuesten Sportwagen.
We drive the newest sports cars. 

When to Drop an E in Comparative, but NOT in Superlative

Occasionally you will need to modify the adjectives or adverbs that you are using to make it easier to pronounce. Words that have an “E” directly before an “R” or “L” require you to remove the “E” before you add any ending that starts with a vowel. This means most of them, but not the superlative, as it starts with “S”. For example: 

teuer – teurer – am teuersten
expensive – more expensive – most expensive

Dieses Buch ist teuer.
This book is expensive. 

Es ist ein teures Buch.
It is an expensive book. 

Dieses Buch ist teurer.
This book is more expensive. 

Es ist ein teureres Buch.
It is a more expensive book. 

Dieses Buch ist am teuersten.
This book is the most expensive.

Es ist das teuerste Buch.
It is the most expensive book. 

dunkel – dunkler – am dunkelsten
dark – darker – the darkest

Dieses Foto ist dunkel.
This photo is dark. 

Ich habe ein dunkles Foto gemacht.
I took a dark photo. 

Welches Foto ist dunkler? Dieses oder dieses?
Which photo is darker? This one or this one? 

Siehst du das dunklere Foto?
Do you see the darker photo? 

Dieses Foto sieht am dunkelsten aus.
This photo looks the darkest. 

Das ist das dunkelste Foto, das ich je gesehen habe.
That is the darkest photo I have ever seen. 

When to Add E in Superlative, but NOT in Comparative

If an adjective or adverb ends with -d, -ß, -sch, -t, -tz, -x oder -z, you need to add -e between the adjective and the -st in the superlative. For example:

blöd – blöder – am blödesten
stupid – stupider – the stupidest 

süß – süßer – am süßesten
sweet – sweeter – the sweetest

hübsch – hübscher – am hübschesten
handsome – more handsome – the most handsome 

weit – weiter – am weitesten
far – farther – the farthest 

fix – fixer – am fixesten
quick – quicker – the quickest 

spitz – spitzer – am spitzesten
sharp – sharper – the sharpest 

stolz – stolzer – am stolzesten
proud – prouder – the proudest 

heiß – heißer – am heißesten
hot – hotter – the hottest 

weis – weiser – am weisesten
wise – wiser – the wisest

heiß – heißer – am heißesten
hot – hotter – the hottest

kurz – kürzer – am kürzesten
short – shorter – the shortest

schlecht – schlechter – am schlechtesten
bad – worse – the worst

The Exception

Of course, every rule has an exception, which is why the word “groß” exists. 

groß – größer – am größten
big – bigger – the biggest 

When to Add an Umlaut in BOTH Comparative & Superlative

When an adjective or adverb has one syllable and a letter, which can take an umlaut, it almost always does in the comparative and superlative forms. For example:

jung – jünger – am jüngsten
young – younger – the youngest

Ich bin jung.
I am young. 

Ich bin jünger als du.
I am younger than you. 

Ich bin am jüngsten.
I am the youngest. 

Ich bin ein junger Junge.
I am a young boy. 

Ich bin ein jüngerer Junge.
I am a younger boy. 

Ich bin der jüngste Junge.
I am the youngest boy. 

alt – älter – am ältesten
old – older – the oldest

Ich bin alt.
I am old. 

Ich bin älter als er.
I am older than he. 

Side Note: Him vs He

A quick side note here: most native English speakers would say “him” instead of “he” in that sentence. Most grammar nerds will tell you that “he” is the correct form, as the pronoun is a predicate nominative (more about that in my video about “sein” linked in the description). While this is true, I am a proponent of language usage defining what is grammatically correct. No one I know would say “I am older than he” unless they finished the sentence with “is”. “I am older than he is.”, but “I am older than him.” 

In German the nominative pronoun “er” is used, which indicates that the German version would be more closely related to the “correct” English version. I only point this issue out so that you know in German the pronoun here needs to use the nominative. I’ll get to some examples later that don’t use the nominative case so you know when to use nominative and when to vary from that pattern. 

More Examples:
alt – älter – am ältesten
old – older – the oldest

Ich bin am ältesten.
I am the oldest. 

Ich bin ein alter Alter.
I am an old dude. 

Ich bin ein älterer Alter.
I am an older dude. 

Ich bin der älteste Alter.
I am the oldest dude. 

More Adjectives That Require Umlauts

Just so you know that these are not isolated instances, here are a few more examples of words that require an umlaut in the comparative and superlative. 

hart – härter – am härtesten
hard – harder – the hardest 

kalt – kälter – am kältesten
cold – colder – the coldest 

lang – länger – am längsten
long – longer – the longest 

arm – ärmer – am ärmsten
poor – poorer – the poorest

dumm – dümmer – am dümmsten
dumb – dumber – the dumbest

klug – klüger – am klügstsen
smart – smarter – the smartest

Adjectives That Don’t Add an Umlaut with Comparative & Superlative

You don’t always add an umlaut with single syllable adjectives that can take umlauts. For example: 

flach – flacher – am flachsten
flat – flatter – the flattest

faul – fauler – am faulsten
lazy – lazier – the laziest 

bunt – bunter – am buntesten
colorful – more colorful – the most colorful

rund – runder – am rundesten
round – rounder – the roundest 

brav – braver – am bravsten
well-behaved – better-behaved – the best-behaved

froh – froher – am frohesten
happy – happier – the happiest

All of these are only one syllable and the vowel in the middle could take an umlaut. They just don’t, because… *shrug*.

Adjectives That Can Take Umlauts with Comparative & Superlative, if you feel like it.

Even more confusing are the rare occasions when it is acceptable for you to choose if you want to use the umlaut or not. For example: 

nass – nasser/nässer – am nassesten/nässesten
wet – wetter – the wettest 

krumm – krummer/krümmer – am krummsten/krümmsten
crooked – more crooked – the most crooked 

Irregular German Adjectives & Adverbs

Certain adjectives and adverbs are irregular. This means they don’t follow any discernable pattern. This happens in English a lot too. Usually a good rule of thumb is “when an adjective or adverb is irregular in English, it is probably irregular in German.” For example:

viel – mehr – am meisten
much – more – the most

Meine Mutter nervt mich viel.
My mother annoys me a lot. 

Meine Mutter nervt meinen Bruder mehr als mich. –
My mother annoys my brother more than me.

Meine Mutter nervt meine Schwester am meisten.
My mother annoys my sister the most. 

Another Side Note About Nominative vs Accusative

Notice in the second sentence “Meine Mutter nervt meinen Bruder mehr als mich.” (My mother annoys my brother more than me.) I used the accusative pronoun “mich” instead of “ich”. This is because we aren’t using a predicate nominative this time. Let’s take a closer look at the previous one. “Ich bin älter als er.” (I am older than he.) As I kind of alluded to in my explanation of why the English makes no sense, if you finish the sentence, you would say “Ich bin älter als er ist.” (I am older than he is.) 

If we finish the new example “Meine Mutter nervt meinen Bruder mehr als mich.” (My mother annoys my brother more than me.) you would say “Meine Mutter nervt meinen Bruder mehr, als sie mich nervt.” (My mother annoys my brother more than she annoys me.) This makes it clear that the pronoun in use is the direct object of that part of the sentence. Therefore we use the accusative case. 

Cheesy Skit Showcasing the Rule for Nominative vs Accusative

der Riese: Ich bin größer als dich.
the Giant: I am bigger than you*.

Antrim Klein: Ja, du bist größer als ich, aber offensichtlich nicht klüger. Es sollte heißen: “Ich bin größer als du.” 
Antrim Little: Yeah, you are bigger than me*, but obviously not smarter. It is supposed to be: “I am bigger than you*.”

der Riese: Du bist nicht größer als mich. 
the Giant: You aren’t bigger than me*.

Antrim Klein: Ugh. Das Verb “sein” verlangt kein Akkusativobjekt. Wenn du deinen Satz ergänzt, siehst du ganz klar, was ich meine. Ich bin größer als dich bist.” ist offensichtlich nicht richtig. 
Antrim Little: Ugh. The verb “sein” (to be) doesn’t require an accusative object (direct object). If you complete your sentence, you see quite clearly, what I mean. I am bigger than you* are.” is obviously not correct.

der Riese: Natürlich nicht. Ich bin größer als du bist. 
the Giant: Of course not. I am bigger than you* are.

Antrim Klein: Na endlich hast du es verstanden. 
Antrim Little: Well, finally you understand it.

Meisten Requires an Article in German, but Not in English

Another point that is a bit odd about viel – mehr – am meisten is that you can’t use “meisten” in front of a noun without having an article, like you can in English. In English it is possible to say “Most people” or “Most students” without having “the” in front. In German, you need the article. For example:

Die meisten Deutschen wohnen in Deutschland.
Most Germans live in Germany.

Die meisten US-Amerikaner wohnen in den USA.
Most US Americans live in the USA. 

gern – lieber – am liebsten
like – like more – like the most

Let’s take a look at another irregular adverb/adjective and some more examples that don’t have the nominative case at the end. 

Mein Bruder isst gern Pizza.
My brother likes eating pizza. 

Meine Schwester isst Pizza lieber als diesen Rinderbraten.
My sister likes to eat pizza more than this roast beef. 

Meine Mutter isst am liebsten Knödel.
My mother likes to eat dumplings the most. 

Yet Another Side Note About Nominative vs Accusative

In the second sentence, the word “Rinderbraten” is in the accusative case, as it is used in the same way as “Pizza”. If you complete the sentence, you would say “Meine Schwester isst Pizza lieber als sie diesen Rinderbraten isst. – My sister likes to eat pizza more than she likes to eat this roast beef.” The point is that you need to pay attention to the way in which you are using the noun at the end and don’t just automatically assume it is in the nominative case. 

More Irregular Adjectives

hoch – höher – am höchsten
high – higher – the highest 

nahe – näher – am nächsten
near – nearer – the nearest/next 

bald – eher – am ehesten
soon – sooner – the soonest 

Good vs Well?

Another convenient thing about the German adverbs and adjectives is that you don’t have to know whether to use “good” or “well” as you do an English. In German everything is just “gut”. Officially in English, if “good” is being used as an adverb, you have to say “well” instead of “good”. No one really seems to pay attention or care about this rule in English however, so lots of people will just end up saying good in all instances and pretending the word “well” doesn’t even exist. Or worse still, they will use well in sentences where it doesn’t belong. Let’s take a look at a few examples so we can fix your English while we’re at it. 

“Good” is an adjective.
“Well” is an adverb.

gut – besser – am besten
good/well – better – the best 

Wie geht’s dir? Es geht mir gut.
How’s it going? I’m doing well./I am good/well.

This is the example that everyone claims the other person is wrong. The claim is that if you say “I am well.” it must be in reference to your prior illness. “Well” is supposed to be used either in reference to your health or as an adverb. This means that it modifies the verb of the sentence and NOT a noun or pronoun. When you are saying “I am good”, the pronoun “I” is being modified by “good”. When you say “I am doing well.” the word “well” is modifying the way in which you are doing. This is an adverb and therefore must be “well”. 

Again, the usage should define what is correct and what is not correct. Half of the people I know say “I am well.” The other half say “I am good.” I personally prefer “good” in that sentence, but I accept “well” as well. 😉 Enough about the English. You came here for the German. Let’s go back to those examples. 

gut – besser – am besten
good/well – better – the best

Mein Bruder spielt Fußball gut.
My brother plays soccer well. 

Er ist ein guter Fußballer.
He is a good soccer player. 

Meine Schwester spielt besser Fußball als er.
My sister plays soccer better than him (he). 

Sie ist eine bessere Fußballerin.
She is a better soccer player. 

Mein Vater spielt Fußball am besten.
My father plays soccer the best. 

Er ist der beste Fußballer.
He is the best soccer player. 

When to Use “so… wie”

Now that we know how to make the comparative and superlative of adjectives and adverbs, we need to know how to use them properly. If two things are the same amount of something, we confusingly say in English it is “as something as”. For example: as comfortable as. In order to say two things are the same in German, we use the word “so” in front of the adjective and “wie” after it. For example: “so bequem wie”.

Examples with so… wie

Diese Milch ist so warm wie mein Badewasser.
This milk is as warm as my bathwater.

Dieser Junge ist so dumm wie ein Stein.
This boy is as dumb as a stone.

Dieses Baby ist so stark wie mein Hund.
This baby is as strong as my baby.

Die Frau isst so schnell wie mein Hund.
The woman is eating as fast as my dog.

When to Use “als”

When you want to compare two things directly, you need the word “als”, which is used like the English word “than”. For example: bequemer als – more comfortable than 

Examples with “als”

Diese Milch ist wärmer als mein Badewasser.
This milk is warmer than my bathwater.

Dieser Junge ist dümmer als ein Stein.
This boy is dumber than a stone.

Dieses Baby ist stärker als mein Hund.
This baby is stronger than my dog.

Die Frau isst schneller als mein Hund.
The woman is eating faster than my dog.

When to Use “am” + -sten

If you are using the superlative form of an adjective or adverb and you are not using it directly in front of a noun, you can simply add “am” in the front and the letters -sten to the end of the word, to create the superlative. This can simply be used at the end of the sentence or where the “manner” part of the sentence goes.

Examples with “am” + -sten

Diese Milch ist am wärmsten.
This milk is the warmest.

Dieser Junge ist am dümmsten.
This boy is the dumbest.

Dieses Baby ist am stärksten.
This baby is the strongest.

Die Frau isst am schnellsten.
The woman eats the fastest.

More Examples with Goofy Sentences

bequem – bequemer – am bequemsten
comfortable – more comfortable – the most comfortable

Das ist ein bequemes Bett.
This is a comfortable bed. 

Dieses Bett ist so bequem wie mein Bett zu Hause.
This bed is as comfortable as my bed at home. 

Das zweite Bett ist ein bequemeres Bett.
The second bed it a more comfortable bed. 

Das zweite Bett ist bequemer als mein Bett zu Hause.
The second bed is more comfortable than my bed at home. 

Das letzte Bett ist am bequemsten.
The last bed is the most comfortable.

Das letzte Bett ist das bequemste Bett, in dem ich je geschlafen habe.
The last bed is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. 

langsam – langsamer – am langsamsten
slow – slower – the slowest

Diese Schnecke ist sehr langsam.
This snail is very slow. 

Es gibt keine andere Schnecke, die so langsam wie diese Schnecke ist.
There is no other snail, that is as slow as this snail is. 

Sie ist langsamer als alle anderen Schnecken.
It is slower than all other snails. 

Diese Schnecke ist am langsamsten.
This snail is the slowest. 

Sie ist die langsamste Schnecke der Welt.
It is the slowest snail in the world. 

klein – kleiner – am kleinsten
small – smaller – the smallest

groß – größer – am größten
big – bigger – the biggest

A: Ich habe eine kleine Möhre.
A: I have a small carrot. 

B: Deine Möhre ist sehr klein. Deine Möhre ist kleiner als meine Möhre. Das ist eine kleinere Möhre. Ich denke, du hast die kleinste Möhre im Garten.
B: Your carrot is very small. Your carrot is smaller than my carrot. That is a smaller carrot. I think you have the smallest carrot in the garden. 

A: Hast du eine größere Möhre?
A: Do you have a bigger carrot? 

B: Natürlich ist meine Möhre größer als deine kleine Möhre. Meine Möhre ist die größte Möhre im Garten. Meine Möhre ist nicht nur groß sondern am größten.
B: Of course my carrot is bigger than your little carrot. My carrot is the biggest carrot in the garden. My carrot is not only big, but the biggest. 

bekannt – bekannter – am bekanntesten
famous – more famous – the most famous

Franka Potente ist bekannt.
Franka Potente is famous. 

Sie ist bekannter als Hilary Duff.
She is more famous than Hilary Duff. 

Franka Potente ist eine der bekanntesten Schauspielerinnen aus Deutschland.
Franka Potente is one of the most famous actresses from Germany. 

fleißig – fleißiger – am fleißigsten –
hard-working – more hard-working – the most hard-working

Ich bin sehr fleißig.
I am very hard-working. 

Mein Bruder ist so fleißig wie ich.
My brother is just as hard-working as I (am). 

George ist fleißiger als mein Bruder und ich.
George is more hard-working than my brother and I. 

Abraham ist am fleißigsten.
Abraham is the most hard working. 

faul – fauler – am faulsten
lazy – lazier – the laziest

Dieser Hund ist faul.
This dog is lazy. 

Er ist so faul wie mein Esel.
He is as lazy as my donkey.

Dieses Pferd ist fauler als der Hund und der Esel.
This horse is lazier than the dog and the donkey. 

Die Katze ist am faulsten.
The cat is the laziest. 

unfreundlich – unfreundlicher – am unfreundlichsten
unfriendly – more unfriendly – the most unfriendly.

Dieser Angestellte ist unfreundlich.
This employee is unfriendly. 

Der andere Angestellte ist unfreundlicher.
The other employee is more unfriendly. 

Der dritte Angestellte ist vielleicht der unfreundlichste Angestellte, den ich je gesehen habe.
The third employee is perhaps the most unfriendly employee that I have ever seen. 

schlecht – schlechter – am schlechtesten
bad – worse – the worst

Mein Bruder hat schlechte Noten.
My brother has bad grades. 

Meine Schwester hat schlechtere Noten.
My sister has worse grades. 

Mein Cousin hat die schlechtesten Noten.
My cousin has the worst grades. 

If you need more help with this topic, try my additional materials about the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs in German. If you want to learn more about adjective endings and the case system in general, check out my accusative, dative or genitive case master classes. Das ist alles für heute. Bis zum nächsten Mal. Tschüss.

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