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Comparatives and superlatives in German

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Comparatives and superlatives in German

In the German language adjectives can be compared. This comparison is required to compare things or to express different degrees of qualities. It distinguishes between three different forms. In the German language , the adjective has three degrees: positive, comparative, and superlative.

The comparative and superlative degrees of the adjective will allow you to establish relations of equality or superiority between them based on their characteristics. When they precede a noun (attributive function) these adjectives must also be declined according to the presence and type of the determinant that precedes them.

Positive, comparative and superlative

  • Positive degree : it is the adjective as you know it, without changes. Ex: Das Haus is alt . (The house is old)
  • Comparative degree : there are two types of comparative, that of equality and that of superiority. Keep in mind that in this case there is no comparative of inferiority.
  • Superlative degree : it is the highest degree that the adjective reaches. An example in English would be, “My mom cooks the richest food.” It is constructed from the adjective form + est (n) preceded by am.

Example : Der Orangensaft ist am billigsten. (Orange juice is the cheapest). or, Das ist der billigste Saft. (This is the cheapest juice).

The comparative and the superlative according to the adjective

The comparative and the superlative in German will depend on whether the adjective is behind the noun (predicative function), if it is in front (attributive function) or if it works as an adverb (adverbial function).

Predicative function

(adjective behind noun

Attributive function

(adjective before noun)

Adverbial function

Positive:

Olivia ist jung

 

(Olivia is young)

Positive: 

Olivia ist eine gute Shülerin

 

(Olivia is a good student )

Positive:

Olivia rennt schnell.

 

(Olivia runs fast)

Comparative:

Olivia ist Jünger als Pepa

 

(Olivia is younger than Pepa)

Comparative:

Olivia ist eine bessere Shülerin als Pepa

 

(Olivia is a better student than Pepa)

Comparative:

Olivia rennt schneller als Pepa

 

 

(Olivia runs faster than Pepa)

Superlative:

Olivia ist am jüngsten

 

(Olivia is the youngest)

 

Superlative:

Olivia ist die veste shülerin.

 

(Olivia is the best student)

Superltive:

Olivia rennt am Shnelisten.

 

(Olivia runs the fastest)

Predicative function

  • Comparative of equality:

 So + adjektiv + wie

(As)

  • Das auto A ist so schnell wie das auto B

(Car A is as fast as Car B

  • Comparison of non-equality

Adjektiv-er + als

(more than)

  • Das auto A ist kleiner als das auto B

Car A is smaller than Car B

  • Superlative:

 Am + Adjektiv-sten

(the most)

  • Two cars A ist am kleisten.

(Car A is the smallest)

When the adjective functions as an adverb, the comparative and the superlative are formed the same.

Attributive function

(Adjective before the noun)

  • Comparative:

Adjektiv-er-Adjektivdeklination

(one more)

  • Ich wil ein billigeres Auto

(I want a cheaper car)

  • Superlative :

Bestimmte artikel + Adjektiv-st-Adjektivdeklination

(the most)

  • Ich will das billigste Auto.

(I want the cheapest car)

Special adjectives

There are irregular adjectives that must be studied, their comparative and their superlative:

  Komparativ Superlativ
gern lieber Am liebsten
gut besser Am besten
viel mehr Am meisten

 

dunkel dunkler Am dunkelsten
edel edler Am edelsten
teuer teurer Am teuersten

 

nah näher Am nächsten
hoch höher Am höchsten

There are some adjectives, especially monosyllables, that carry “Umlaut” (in the vowels a, o, u) in the comparative and superlative:

 

komparativ

Superlativ

alt älter am ältesten
arm ärmer am ärmsten
GroB gröBer am gröBten
jung jünger am jüngsten
kalt kälter am kältesten
klug klüger am klügsten
kurz kurzer am kürzesten
lang länger am längsten
warm wärmer am wärmsten
  • Attention: “gern” is always an adverb.
  • Attention : the comparatives “mehr” and “weniger” are not inflected.

Example:

Adjektiv hinter dem noun

 

komparativ

superlativ

Adjektiv-er + als Am + adkjetiv-sten
  • Das Auto C ist langsmer als das auto B

Car C is slower than Car B

  • Das Auto B ist langsmer als das auto A

Coehe B is slower than car A

  • Das Auto A ist am schnellsten.

Car A is the fastest

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