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German Comparatives And Superlatives Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Language

Guten Tag! Today I’m going to show you some comparatives and superlatives in German. What are these? For example, instead of saying “He is fast” you might want to know how to say “He is faster” (the comparative) or “He is the fastest” (the superlative), and then also know how to do the same with the opposite word, “slow”. Hopefully these examples will help you to do just that!

snail

How do you say ‘the slowest’ in German? Photo credit: ‘snail’ by Eli Duke on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Fast
Ich bin schnell. Du bist schneller. Karin ist am schnellsten.
I am fast. You are faster. Karin is the fastest.

Note: The comparative is formed by adding -er onto the word. If the word already ends in an e, only the r is added. Example: müde (tired) becomes müder (more tired).

Slow
Ich bin langsam. Du bist langsamer. Karin ist am langsamsten.
I am slow. You are slower. Karin is the slowest.

Note: The superlative is formed by adding ‘am’ before the word, and then adding -sten onto the end of it.

Big
Ich bin groß. Du bist größer. Karin ist am größten.
I am big. You are bigger. Karin is the biggest.

Note: Groß is an example of an irregular adjective, which looks different. In this case, groß gains an umlaut in the comparative form. Umlauts are also sometimes added for one syllable adjectives, such as kalt (cold) kälter (colder) am kältesten (coldest). Other examples of irregular adjectives include gut (good) besser (better) am besten (the best), and bald (soon) eher (sooner) am ehesten (the soonest).

Small
Ich bin klein. Du bist kleiner. Karin ist am kleinsten.
I am small. You are smaller. Karin is the smallest.

Rich
Ich bin reich. Du bist reicher. Karin ist am reichsten.
I am rich. You are richer. Karin is the richest.

Poor
Ich bin arm. Du bist ärmer. Karin ist am ärmsten.
I am poor. You are poorer. Karin is the poorest.

Happy
Ich bin glücklich. Du bist glücklicher. Karin ist am glücklichsten.
I am happy. You are happier. Karin is the happiest.

Sad
Ich bin traurig. Du bist trauriger. Karin ist am traurigsten.
I am sad. You are sadder. Karin is the saddest.

 

Note: Although in English we sometimes say ‘more intelligent’ or ‘more refined’, for example, in German you would never say ‘mehr intelligent’ or ‘mehr raffiniert’. You would always use the above forms, so more intelligent becomes ‘intelligenter’ and more refined becomes ‘raffinierter’.

As with most German grammar, you will find exceptions to the rules. Nevertheless, I hope this post gives you a basic understanding of how to express and compose comparatives and superlatives in the German language.

Any questions, feel free to give me a shout.

Bis bald!

Constanze

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


Comments:

  1. Donald Modaro:

    In the word of the day(Unsicher), the sample sentence uses “Wenn–if”, instead of “Wann–when”. Why is this?

    • Sten:

      @Donald Modaro Hi Donald,

      “Wenn” is the word used in German to refer to a conditional “if” or “when” in German. Though you could also argue for “falls” as a translation for “if”. “Falls” essentially means “in case of” (Im Fall, dass – in the case that).

      “Wann” only means “when” in the sense of time – so “Wann ist Weihnachten?” is “When is Christmas?”. Sometimes, you will hear things like “wann er sich beruhigt hat, rede ich wieder mit ihm” (Once he calms down, I’ll talk to him again – or literally: “when he calmed down, I talk to him again”), but this is not correct, yet some people may say it. Hope this makes sense!

  2. Daniel:

    Is the “am” removed when it’s declined or joined with an article? As in “nach den neuesten” (superlativ)