The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are used to indicate a higher degree of their simple forms (positive and negative) with the superlative being the maximum degree. The comparative form of adjective is mostly used for the comparison of dissimilar nouns or pronouns. That is, to show between two objects which one is of more value than the other.

In English, the comparative and superlative forms of regular adjectives are formed by adding “-er” and “-est” respectively at the tail-end or by using “more” and “most” together with their simple forms in the same manner. Remember that the usage of these comparative and superlative suffixes is dependent on the last letter of the simple forms which determines whether “more” and “most” should be used instead.

In German on the other hand, the comparative and superlative forms of regular adjectives are only formed by adding “-er” and “-sten” or “-esten” respectively to the simple forms. The superlative form of adjectives in German adjectives always go with the preposition “am” in the unused or un-declined form which is not literally translated in English even when used to complement a verb. This preposition is always omitted when the adjective is supposedly used as a noun by the addition of articles.

The suffix “-esten” is used when the last letter of the simple form of the adjective is either “d, s, t, u, z and ß” with the only exception of “groß” while the suffix “-sten” is attached to every other adjective with a different tail-ending from those listed.

Irregular adjectives sometimes follow the pattern of regular adjectives with regards to the end suffixes in the comparative and superlative forms except that they either change stem vowels or their entire form to a completely variant form. These changes in stem vowels only occur within one-syllable adjectives with “a, o and u” which changes to the umlaut variant “ä, ö and ü” respectively.

In addition to the changed vowels of one-syllabic adjective, those with “h” and “ch” directly after their vowels either gain a “c” or lose a “c” in their superlative and comparative forms respectively. For example “nahbecomes am nächsten in the superlative while “hoch” becomes höher in the comparative form. See the lists of comparative and superlative adjectives below.

List of comparative and superlative forms of some regular adjectives in German

Simple formComparative formSuperlative formEnglish translation
schöneschöneram schönstenpretty, prettier, prettiest
tieftieferam tiefstendeep,deeper,deepest
kleinkleineram kleinstensmall, smaller, smallest
frischfrischeram frischestenfresh, fresher, freshest
nettnetteram nettestennice, nicer, nicest
reichreicheram reichstenrich, richer, richest
intelligentintelligenteram intelligentestenintelligent, more intelligent, most intelligent
langsamlangsameram langsamstenslow, slower, slowest
dunkeldunkleram dunkelstendark, darker, darkest
hellhelleram hellstenbright, brighter, brightest
grüngrüneram grünstengreen, greener, greenest
weißweißeram weißestenwhite, whiter, whitest
heißheißeram heißestenhot, hotter, hottest
nassnasseram nassestenwet, wetter, wettest
trockentrockneram trockenstendry, drier, driest
neuneueram neuestennew, newer, newest
wichtigwichtigeram wichtigstenimportant, more important, most important
schnellschnelleram schnellstenquick, quicker, quickest
wenigwenigerwenigstenimportant, more important, most important
Comparative and superlative form of regular adjectives in german

Note: all ordinal numbers are equally irregular numbers.

List of comparative and superlative forms of some irregular adjectives in German

Simple formsComparativeSuperlative English translation
kurzkürzeram kürzestenshort, shorter, shortest
dummdümmeram dümmstendumb, dumber, dumbest
großgrößeram größtenbig, bigger, biggest
altälteram ältestenold, older, oldest
warmwärmeram wärmstenwarm, warmer, warmest
armärmeram ärmstenpoor, poorer, poorest
kaltkälteram kältestencold, colder, coldest
hochhöheram höchstenhigh, higher, highest
gutbesseram bestengood, better, best
vielmehram meistenmuch, more, most
baldeheram ehestensoon, sooner, soonest
klugklügeram klügstenclever, cleverer, cleverest
gernlieberam liebstenprefer, more prefered, most prefered
langlängeram längstenlong, longer, longest
harthärteram härtestenhard, harder, hardest
scharfschärferam schärfstensharp, sharper, sharpest
nahnäheram nächstennear, nearer, nearest
starkstärkeram stärkstenstrong, stronger, strongest
list of comparative and superlative form of irregular adjectives in german

Just like the simple forms of adjectives, the comparative and superlative forms can as well be declined using the same declension suffixes for their simple forms. The choice of the end-suffix is also based on the Gender of the noun, the grammatical case and the type of article that precedes them. When they are used to complement verbs, they are also not declined. See the illustrations below.

Illustration as verb complement

  1. Das ist besser.—— That is better.
  2. Deine Hose sieht heute größer aus.—— your trouser looks bigger today.
  3. Es ist immer am besten, ein Haus zu kaufen.—— it is always best to buy a house.
  4. Er ist intelligenter.—— he is more intelligent.

Illustration as substantive nouns

  1. Sie ist die Schönste.—— she is the most beautiful.
  2. David ist der Kleinste in seiner Klasse.—— David is the smallest in his class.
  3. Ich denke, dass Maria die Klügste in unserer Gruppe ist.—— I think Mary is the smartest in our group.

Illustration as describing nouns

  • Wir haben diese Kleidungen in der teuersten Boutique in dieser Stadt gekauft.—— We bought these clothes from the most expensive boutique in that city.
  • Mein Vater hat ein weiches weißes Hemd.—— my father has a soft white shirt.

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