Comparative & Superlative Forms

In English, you can use “more” and “(the) most” with some adjectives instead of the –er and –est endings. You wouldn’t say “more small” or “more good” but you can say “more friendly” or “more intense” — in fact, “intenser” would sound odd. In German you can’t do this, and “mehr ____” is one of the most common “Englisch-Deutsch” mistakes. Always use the “er” and “st” forms, even when you wouldn’t use them on the English word.

 

No matter how long the adjective or adverb, German always adds -er (“schöner”, “interessanter”). Never use mehr for this purpose. Adjective endings follow the -er. Of course, adverbs and predicate adjectives take no endings.

Wir haben den süßeren Wein bestellt.

We ordered the sweeter wine.

Die schlankere Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivere.

The slimmer woman isn’t necessarily the more attractive one.

 

To form the superlative, German always adds -st or -est. Other than the few exceptions mentioned below, superlative adjectives always require a further ending:

Wir haben den trockensten Wein bestellt.

We ordered the driest wine.

Die schlankste Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivste.

The slimmest woman isn’t necessarily the most attractive one.

 

The superlative forms of adverbs or predicate adjectives take the form of “am -sten:”

Er singt am lautesten.        He sings the loudest.

Ich bin am glücklichsten, wenn ich allein bin. I’m happiest when I’m alone.

 

Some superlative forms of adverbs can end in “-stens” (without “am”):

Wir essen meistens in der Küche.          We mostly eat in the kitchen.

Ich bin bestens versorgt.    I’m very well provided for.

Hunde sind hier strengstens verboten.    Dogs are strictly forbidden here.

Ihr Wagen wird frühestens Mittwoch fertig sein.        Your car will be ready on Wednesday at the earliest.

 

The basic forms:

comparative

Some adjectives, almost always monosyllabic, add an umlaut. Here are some of the more common ones:

comparative 2

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