Comparing Things In GermanComparisons & Superlatives

The dog is bigger. The mouse is smaller. Let's learn how to compare things, in German.

lessonsgerman lessoncomparison
01.12.2023

Comparisons add new dimension to a discussion, allowing you to express yourself with more creativity and precision.

Let's learn how to do this, in German.

Comparing Things

For this lesson, let's imagine that you are hanging out with the medieval nun and polymath, Hildegard von Bingen.

She tells you that in her spare time, she enjoys composing music, writing groundbreaking medical texts, and recording her visions from God.

Although these things keep her busy, she isn't yet fully satisfied with all her hobbies. In fact, she'd love to take up another.

Let's help her compare some options, and find her a new passion!

After considering a list of hobbies, she has picked out her final three choices: witchcraft, tennis and painting.

(das) Tennis
tennis
(das) Malen
painting
(die) Hexerei
witchcraft

Great! Now we know which three options we'll compare. Let's continue.

Comparatives & Superlatives

1. Basic Comparison Rules

When it comes to comparing things in German, we'll need to learn some important rules:

To form comparatives (bigger than, brighter than):

  • We add the suffix -er to the end of our German adjectives, to form a comparative, in much the same way we do in English.
  • We use the word als after the adjective, in much the same way we use "than" in English.

To form superlatives (the biggest, the brightest):

  • We add the suffix -sten to the end of our German adjectives, to form a superlative, in much the same way we add the suffix -est in English. When the adjective has one syllable, the -sten suffix may change to -ersten or -esten.
  • We use the word am before the adjective, in much the same way we use "the" in English.
faul
lazy
fauler als
lazier than
am faulsten
the laziest
hell
bright
heller als
brighter than
am hellsten
the brightest

Try to type the correct comparative / superlative versions of these adjectives, in the table:

AdjectiveComparative (kleiner als)Superlative (am kleinsten)
lecker
hässlich
heiß
hell

2. Rules For One-Syllable Adjectives

When changing adjectives to comparatives or superlatives, sometimes one-syllable adjectives also require adding an umlaut to the vowel:

groß
big
größer als
bigger than
am größten
the biggest

Try to type the correct comparative / superlative versions of these adjectives, in the table.

AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
stark
kalt
jung
rot

Well done! 🎉

You are using adjectives as comparatives and superlatives.

Making Comparisons

Now we are ready to compare the three final options: witchcraft, tennis and painting.

To make her decision, Hildegard is considering a few things:

  • how expensive the hobby is
  • how creative the hobby is
  • how difficult the hobby is
AdjectiveComparativeSuperlative
teuer (expensive)
kreativ (creative)
schwierig (difficult)

Below are some comparisons of the three hobbies, with the considerations taken into account.

Fill in the blanks, to complete the comparisons.

1.Malen ist more expensiveals Hexerei.
2.Tennis ist am most expensive
3.Malen ist more creativeals Tennis.
4.Hexerei ist am most creative
5.Malen ist difficultals Hexerei.
6.Tennis ist am difficult

After these considerations, Hildegard has made her choice: witchcraft!

Well done! 🎉

You have started using comparatives and superlatives in German sentences.

Now you may head over to the next lesson, whenever you're ready: Describing People In German.


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