Als vs. WieWhat's the difference?

Learn the difference between "als" and "wie" in German, two words that are often used in comparisons but have different meanings and functions.


When learning German, one of the most confusing aspects for English speakers can be understanding the correct usage of comparison words, especially als and wie.

Both of these words can mean "as" or "than" in English, but their usage in German can be quite different. In this post, we will explore the difference between als and wie and when to use each one.

Comparing with als

als is used in comparisons when the two things being compared are not equal. In this case, als is translated as "than" in English. For example:

Mein Auto ist älter als deins.

My car is older than yours.
Ich bin größer als meine Schwester.

I am taller than my sister.
Dieses Buch ist interessanter als jenes.

This book is more interesting than that one.

In each of these examples, als is used to compare two different things that are not equal. Note that the second item being compared comes at the end of the sentence and is in the accusative case.

Comparing with wie

On the other hand, wie is used when the two things being compared are equal. In this case, wie is translated as "as" in English. For example:

Sie ist so groß wie ihr Bruder.

She is as tall as her brother.
Dieser Film ist genauso gut wie jener.

This movie is as good as that one.
Ich kann genauso schnell laufen wie du.

I can run as fast as you.

In each of these examples, wie is used to compare two things that are equal. Note that the adjective being compared comes before wie and that there is no accusative case.

Using als and wie in Sentences

It is important to keep in mind that the choice between als and wie depends on the context and what is being compared. Here is an example dialogue to illustrate this:

Ich kann besser tanzen als du.
I can dance better than you.
Das glaube ich nicht. Ich tanze genauso gut wie du.
I don't believe that. I dance just as well as you do.
Okay, dann zeig mal her.
Okay, then show me.

In this dialogue, als is used by Sarah to say that she can dance better than Nadar. However, Nadar responds by saying that he can dance just as well as Sarah, using wie.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between als and wie in German can be tricky, but it is essential for making correct comparisons. Remember that als is used when the things being compared are not equal, while wie is used when they are equal. Keep practicing and soon you will be using these words with confidence!



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