German comparative and superlative (der Superlativ) forms are similar to English ones; however, there are a few noticeable differences.
- All comparatives in German add ‘er’ to the ends of adjectives (not all English ones do)
- German never uses “more” (mehr) to form the comparative with the sole exception of “viel,” the comparative form of which is “mehr”
- 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-)
Below is a list of many adjectives with their comparative and superlative forms:
The superlatives in the above table are predicate adjectives (e.g. Er ist am interessantesten.). There are some rules to keep in mind with regard to forming the comparative and superlative in German:
- monosyllabic adjectives with stem vowel ‘a,’ ‘o,’ or ‘u’ add an umlaut (e.g. alt, hoch, kurz)
- monosyllabic adjectives ending in ‘d,’ ‘t,’ ‘s,’ ‘ss,’ ‘ß,’ ‘z,’ or ‘sch’ add ‘est’ instead of just ‘st’ in superlative form (e.g. heiß)
- polysyllabic adjectives whose last syllable is unstressed and end in ‘d,’ ‘t,’ or ‘sch’ only add ‘st’ to the superlative form (e.g. praktisch)
- adjectives ending in ‘e’ add only an ‘r’ in the comparative; those ending in ‘el’ or ‘er’ drop the final ‘e’ before adding the ‘er’ in the comparative form (NOTE: this rule does not apply to superlative forms of such adjectives) (e.g. leise, dunkel, teuer)
Another form of the superlative is the attributive adjective form, which is the equivalent of saying, “the fastest car” instead of “that car is the fastest” (predicate adjective). The difficulty lies in remembering to include the correct adjective ending for the attributive form of the comparative or superlative. For example:
Klaus’ Auto ist am schnellsten. Klaus hat das schnellste Auto.
Note that the attributive form of the adjective (“schnellste”) has the adjective ending following a “der”-word for an accusative neuter noun. When a comparative form is used attributively, it is very similar:
Sabine hat eine schöne Wohnung, aber Katja hat eine schönere Wohnung.
Note that the comparative form also adds the adjective ending onto the ‘er.’