Comparisons in German (der Komparativ) are similar to those found in English. In both languages, the comparative ending ‘er’ is added to adjectives to make them comparative; however, English uses “more” for some adjectives whereas German does not. Interestingly, both languages have ‘(e)st’ endings for superlatives (e.g. fastest / schnellst-), but only English uses “most” for longer adjectives’ superlative forms (e.g. most honorable vs. ehrenvollst-).
Regular comparative form: Er fährt schnell, aber sie fährt schneller. He drives fast, but she drives faster.
In the example, ‘schnell’ is an adjective that simply adds ‘er’ to the end to form the comparative. In German, there are a few rules to be aware of when forming the comparative:
- Monosyllabic adjectives with stem vowel ‘a,’ ‘o,’ or ‘u’ add an umlaut to the stem vowel (e.g. alt → älter; groß → größer; kurz → kürzer)
- Adjectives ending in ‘e,’ ‘el,’ or ‘er’ either add an ‘r’ only or delete the final ‘e’ before adding ‘er’ (e.g. teuer → teurer)
- Below is a list of many adjectives with their comparative and superlative forms:
There are a few adjectives with irregular forms:
gern → lieber
gut → besser
hoch → höher
viel → mehr
A few other forms of comparison are worth knowing:
- so…wie = as _____ as (e.g. so klein wie / as small as)
- _____er als = _____er than / more _____ than (e.g. schöner als / prettier than; intelligenter als / more intelligent than)
- ‘nicht’ can precede ‘so…wie’ comparisons (e.g. sie ist nicht so klug als ich / she is not as clever as I am )
- the nominative case is used for nouns/pronouns that follow ‘als’ or ‘wie’