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Degrees of Adjective Comparisons in German


Today our grammar material is devoted to degrees of comparison of adjectives of the German language. Take, for example, the adjective “schön” – “beautiful.”

“Karl ist schön” – “Karl handsome.” For comparison, we can use “wie”: “Karl ist genauso schön wie Max” – “Karl is as beautiful as Max.”

For the formation of a comparative degree, we add the adjective suffix “-er”: “Tomas ist schöner” – “Thomas is prettier”.

To compare Carl and Thomas, use “als”: “Tomas ist schöner als Karl” – “Thomas is prettier than Karl”.

To create a superlative degree, we add the suffix “-st”: “ich bin der schönste” – “I am the most beautiful.” Note that in this degree of comparison we use the adjective definite article (“- I am who? – I am the most beautiful”) and the ending “-e” for the singular, and “-en” for the plural. We will explain later what this is about.

If the root of an adjective ends with: “–d”, “-t”, “-s”, “-β”, “-z”, “-sch”, then we add “-e-” between the root and suffix. Example: “schlecht – schlechter – schlechteste” (bad).

The superlative degree of comparison has another form that does not refer to the noun. It is formed with the help of “am” and the suffix with the ending “- (e) sten”: “er macht das am schnellsten” – “it will do it faster than anyone.”

Adjectives that have only one vowel at the root: “a”, “o” or “u”, often get umlaut in degrees of comparison:

groß – größer – am größten (large);
kalt – kälter – am kältesten (cold);
kurz – kürzer – am kürzesten (short);

There are quite a few exceptions to this rule:

voll – voller – am vollsten (full);
rot – roter – am rotesten (red);
falsch – falscher – am falschesten (fake, wrong);
bunt – bunter – am buntesten (variegated);

And other names are adjectives that simply do not sound with umlaut.

Exceptions to all rules are adjectives:

gut – besser – am besten, der beste (good);
viel – mehr – am meisten (many);
bald – eher – am ehesten (soon);
nah – näher – am nächsten, der nächste (close);
hoch – höher – am höchsten, der höchste (high);

Although the topic seems difficult at first glance, Russian speakers do not have any particular difficulties with the degrees of comparison, because the logic is the same as in the native language.

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