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Adjective Endings

Adjectival Nouns

Nominative Case

Accusative Case

Dative Case

Genitive Case

Grammar Review Home

Dartmouth German
  Studies Department

  Less trash is a good thing

The comparison of adjectives in English:

To form the comparative of an adjective, English adds -er to shorter words ("prettier") or places more in front of more complicated ones ("more beautiful").

To form the superlative of an adjective, English adds -est ("prettiest") or uses most ("most beautiful").

To form the comparative of an adverb, English adds -er to those that do not end in -ly ("faster") and places more in front of those that do end in -ly ("more quickly").

To form the superlative of an adverb, English adds -est to those that do not end in -ly ("fastest") and places most in front of those that do ("most quickly").

The comparison of adjectives and adverbs in German:

No matter how long the adjective or adverb, German always adds -er ("schöner", "interessanter"). Never use mehr for this purpose. Adjective endings follow the -er. Of course, adverbs and predicate adjectives take no endings.

Wir haben den süßeren Wein bestellt.
We ordered the sweeter wine.

Die schlankere Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivere.
The slimmer woman isn't necessarily the more attractive one.

Er fährt schneller, wenn es nicht regnet.
He drives faster when it isn't raining.

Sie steht ziemlich links, aber ihr Mann ist konservativer.
She's pretty left-wing, but her husband's more conservative.

To form the superlative, German always adds -st or -est. Other than the few exceptions mentioned below, superlative adjectives always require a further ending:

Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand, wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?

Wir haben den trockensten Wein bestellt.
We ordered the driest wine.

Die schlankste Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivste.
The slimmest woman isn't necessarily the most attractive one.

The superlative forms of adverbs or predicate adjectives take the form of "am -sten:"

Er singt am lautesten. He sings the loudest.
Ich bin am glücklichsten, wenn ich allein bin.  I'm happiest when I'm alone.

Some superlative forms of adverbs can end in "-stens" (without "am"):

Wir essen meistens in der Küche. We mostly eat in the kitchen.
Ich bin bestens versorgt. I'm very well provided for.
Hunde sind hier strengstens verboten. Dogs are strictly forbidden here.
Ihr Wagen wird frühestens Mittwoch fertig sein.  Your car will be ready on Wednesday at the earliest.

The basic forms:

Positive Comparative Superlative or

klein kleiner am kleinsten der/die/das kleinste
intelligent intelligenter am intelligentesten der/die/das intelligenteste

Some adjectives, almost always monosyllabic, add an umlaut. Here are some of the more common ones:

alt älter am ältesten old
arm ärmer am ärmsten poor
dumm dümmer am dümmsten stupid
gesund gesünder am gesündesten healthy
grob gröber am gröbsten coarse
groß größer am größten large
hart härter am härtesten hard
jung jünger am jüngsten young
kalt kälter am kältesten cold
klug klüger am klügsten smart
kurz kürzer am kürzesten short
lang länger am längsten long
oft öfter am öftesten often
scharf schärfer am schärfsten sharp; spicy
schwach schwächer am schwächsten weak
schwarz schwärzer am schwärzesten black
stark stärker am stärksten strong
warm wärmer am wärmsten warm

Several other adjectives may or may not take an umlaut (It's up to the speaker, but in most cases the umlaut is unusual):

blaß pale fromm pious glatt slick krank sick
naß wet rot red schmal narrow

  Dining Hall Orientation. Our gastronomic traffic light:
[red] Preferably infrequently! Best combined with green.
[yellow] A good choice! Take repeatedly!
[green] The best choice! The more often, the better!

Some adjectives or adverbs change their stems in other ways, as well:

bald eher am ehesten soon
gern lieber am liebsten "gladly"
gut besser am besten good
hoch höher am höchsten high
nah näher am nächsten near
viel mehr am meisten much

  Already today we're looking forward to your next visit

  Mr. 1000 Parts - Berlin's best-known spare parts store for electric household appliances

Adjectives ending in -el or -er normally drop the -e- before the comparartive -er:

dunkler  darker
teurer  more expensive

Adjectives ending in -d, -t, -s, -ß, -sch, or -z usually add -est:

am breitesten  the widest
am kürzesten  the shortest
am weißesten  the whitest

Exceptions: "am größten" (the biggest) and adjectives formed from present participles: "am entgenkommendsten" (the most accommodating).

  Unsliced cheese simply tastes better.
Our tip! for it has a fresher and fuller taste, can be used in more ways, and doesn't dry out as fast

Using "als" and "wie" in making comparisons:

Ich bin so gut wie du. I'm as good as you.
Es ist nicht so warm wie gestern. It's not as warm as yesterday.
Das ist genauso dumm wie dein letzter Vorschlag.  That's just as stupid as your last suggestion.
Du bist ebenso laut wie ich. You're just as loud as I am.
Sie ist älter als ihr Bruder. She is older than her brother.
Ein Pferd kann schneller laufen als ein Mensch. A horse can run faster than a human.

Note: Many Germans use "wie" instead of "als" ("Ich bin besser wie du"), but this construction is considered to be bad grammar. Even speakers who do it themselves will correct a foreigner who makes this mistake.

Intensifiers: to indicate a progressive development, English repeats the comparative ("Things are getting better and better"). German can do that ("Es wird kälter und kälter") or, more usually, use "immer": "Es wird immer besser."

  The world is moving faster and faster

Similar to English's "The more the merrier," German employs "Je mehr, desto besser."

  The faster you're on the information highway, the better wired you are to your customers

To prefer / like best:

Ich gehe gern ins Theater I like to go to the theater. Ich habe Weißwein gern. I like white wine.
Ich gehe lieber ins Kino. I prefer to go to the movies. Ich habe Rotwein lieber. I prefer red wine.
Ich gehe am liebsten ins Konzert.  I most like to go to concerts.  Ich habe Sekt am liebsten.  I like champagne best.

mehr or eher can be used to compare two qualities of the same person or thing:

Der Film ist mehr interessant als unterhaltend. The film is more interesting than entertaining.
Deine Witze sind eher traurig als witzig. Your jokes are more sad than funny.
Das ist eher möglich. That's more likely.
Eher geht ein Kamel durch ein Nadelöhr, als dass ein Reicher in den Himmel kommt. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.

eher can also mean "rather; preferably":

Ich gehe eher ins Theater.  I prefer to go to the theater.
Eher hungere ich. I'd rather starve.

To express the notion of "favorite," use the prefix Lieblings-:

Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist blau. My favorite color is blue.
Wenn mein Vater spazieren geht, ist sein Lieblingsziel die Kneipe an der Ecke.  When my father goes for a walk, the pub on the corner is his favorite destination.

aller- intensifies a superlative:

Das habe ich am allerliebsten. I like that best of all.
Er arbeitet am allerschwersten.   He works the hardest of all.

The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives have all the possibilities of the positive forms. They can modify nouns or form the basis of adjectival nouns. Logically, however, a superlative cannot of course follow an indefinite article ("ein höchster Berg" [a highest mountain]). Some examples:

"Ich bin der Größte!" "I am the greatest!"
Der teuerste Wagen gehört meinem älteren Bruder. The most expensive car belongs to my older brother.
Sie hat einen noch besseren Freund gefunden. She found an even better boyfriend.
Eine bessere Gelegenheit findest du nie. You'll never find a better opportunity.
Von ihren Kindern ist das Jüngste am intelligentesten.  Of her children, the youngest is the most intelligent.

  Driving School... Also for "older people," beginners, and "scaredy-cats"
Training for licenses B, BE (passenger cars), also automatic shift

Similarly, the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs act like the positive forms. Some examples:

Ich würde das lieber früher als später hören.  I'd rather hear that earlier than later.
Wir arbeiten hier seit längerer Zeit. We've been working here for some time.
Wie komme ich am besten in die Stadt? What's the best way into town?
Ein älterer Herr hat mir geholfen. An older gentleman helped me.

  For Mother's Day give a piece of love!
Selected praline-creations from the finest chocolate