Hallo, Deutschlerner. In this lesson I will teach you all about the comparative and superlative with adjectives in German. Because I have already made a lesson about the comparative and superlative with adverbs and a lesson about the basics of adjective endings, I used a lot of example sentences in a sketch in the video for this lesson. You can watch that below.
If you still don’t understand how one creates the comparative and superlative with adjectives, I’ll explain the rules below the video.
What are comparative & superlative?
Adjectives describe nouns (people, places and things). Adverbs describe how something is done or adjectives (Ex. very fast. “Very” is the adverb describing the adjective “fast”.) Both adjectives and adverbs have comparative and superlative forms. The comparative is used to show the difference between two things or actions. It compares two things or actions. (Ex. This car is faster than that car.) The superlative is used to show that the thing or action being described is to the furthest degree possible. It is superior to all other things or actions. (Ex. This car drives the fastest.)
How to Form the Comparative and Superlative in German
In both German and English the comparative has -er at the end and the superlative -st. In German, if the adjective is used directly before a noun, you have to add an adjective ending to it. I explained these endings in the last lesson. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Das Auto ist schnell. Das ist ein schnelles Auto. –
This car is fast. This is a fast car.
Dieses Auto ist schneller. Das ist ein schnelleres Auto. –
This car is faster. This is a faster car.
Dieses Auto ist am schnellsten. Das ist das schnellste Auto. –
This car is the fastest. This is the fastest car.
In each of these examples I first show the adjective without an ending at the end of the sentence. The word “fast” at the end of the sentence describes “the car” at the beginning of the sentence. When the adjective is directly before the noun in the second sentence, you need -es at the end in order to show the gender and case (i.e. ein schnelles Auto)
In the second group of sentences the first sentence has the comparative of “fast”, “faster”. If you use this word in front of the noun “Auto”, you still need to add -es to the end to show the case and gender.
In the third group of sentences the first sentence has the superlative of “fast”, “the fastest”. When you use the superlative without a noun, you need “am” in front of the adjective and -en after the -st. In the second sentence, I used a definite article. Therefore I only need an -e at the end of this adjective instead of -es.
Comparative & Superlative with Irregular Adjectives
That’s how easy it is normally. Add -er to the end of the adjective in order to form the comparative. Then add the adjective ending to it, if the adjective is in front of the noun. Add -st to the end of the adjective in order to form the superlative. Then add the adjective ending to it, if the adjective is directly in front of the noun.
Don’t forget: There are some adjectives that are irregular or at the very least more complicated than simply “add -er or -st to the end”.
When to Add an Umlaut to a Single Syllable Adjective in German
German adjectives require an umlaut if the adjective only has one syllable and the vowel can take an umlaut. For example:
Heute ist es warm. Morgen wird es wärmer sein. Übermorgen wird es am wärmsten sein. –
Today it is warm. Tomorrow it will be warmer. The day after tomorrow it will be the warmest.
Heute ist ein warmer Tag. Morgen wird ein wärmerer Tag sein. Übermorgen wird es der wärmste Tag sein. –
Today is a warm day. Tomorrow it will be a warmer day. The day after tomorrow will be the warmest day.
In the first set of examples we can follow the adjective “warm” through the comparative and superlative forms. Both of those forms require an umlaut over the A, as the rule I just mentioned requires. The second set of examples simply adds adjective endings to the same forms of the adjective. Since we used ein-words in the first two examples, the adjective requires -er, which makes the first sentence say “warmer” and the second one “wärmerer”.
When to Remove an -e in a German Adjective
When an adjective ends with -er, you remove the -e before that -r when adding adjective endings or when forming the comparative of that adjective. For example:
Dieses Buch ist teuer. Dieses Buch ist teurer. Dieses Buch ist am teuersten. –
This book is expensive. This book is more expensive. This book is the most expensive.
Das ist ein teures Buch. Das ist ein teureres Buch. Das ist das teuerste Buch. –
This is an expensive book. This is a more expensive book. This is the most expensive book.
To me, this is one of the most difficult adjectives to use properly. Because there is already an -er at the end of the base form of the adjective, it gets confusing when you add -er for the comparative form. It can get even worse when you add -er for the adjective ending (i.e. teurerer). The main thing to remember is that the -e before -r in the base of the adjective drops out in the comparative form. This means that instead of “teuerer”, you use “teurer”. The same thing happens when you use an adjective ending after the original adjective, as in the example “teures”.
Some Adjectives in German are Just Irregular & You Have to Memorize Them
Bob spielt gut. Fred spielt besser. Johann spielt am besten. –
Bob plays well. Fred plays better. Johann plays the best.
Johann spielt mit einem guten Spieler und einem besseren Spieler. Bob und Fred spielen mit dem besten Spieler. –
Johann plays with a good player and a better player. Bob and Fred play with the best player.
The adjective “gut” is completely irregular. It changes to “besser” in the comparative and “best-” in the superlative. Again, the first set of examples follows the forms without adjective endings and the second set of examples includes adjective endings.
If you want to learn more about how to create the comparative and superlative click here. If you would like to learn more about adjectives in general, click here. If you would like to practice what you learned in this lesson along with all of the other lessons I have created about adjectives, click here.