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Multimedia materials for learning german – The comparison of adjectives

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The comparison of adjectives

The german language allows the comparison of adjectives (and some adverbs). Comparison is a feature in the morphology or syntax of some languages, whereby adjectives and adverbs are inflected or modified to indicate the relative degree of the property defined by the adjective or adverb. The comparative expresses a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality, quantity, or degree; the superlative is the form of an adverb or adjective that is the greatest degree of a given descriptor. More Information ...

For example:
Groß – größer – am größten
Big – bigger – biggest

The german language distinguishes three degrees of comparison:

Name

Grad
Degree of comparison

Beispiel
Example

Positiv (Grundstufe)

gleicher Grad
(denotes a property)

groß, klein

Komparativ (Höherstufe)

höherer Grad
(indicates greater degree)

größer, kleiner

Superlativ (Höchststufe)

höchster Grad
(indicates greatest degree)

größte, kleinste


In German, regularly inflected adjectives in the comparative end on "-er" and are connected to the object of comparison using "als".

The superlative ends on "-st" resp. "-est" after -s, -ß, -sch, -d, -t, -tz, -x or -z. In an adverbial use of adjectives the superlative is connected with "am":

Irregular forms of comparison are shown by adjectives, which deviate from the above mentioned rule (different stem of word or variation of a consonant). Irregular forms are shown by the following adjectives:

Some adjectives show a change from simple vowel to umlaut in the comparative and superlative: a becomes ä, o becomes ö and u becomes ü. The following adjectives form the comparative and superlative with umlaut:


The application of the comparison

Predicative position

Ein Hase ist

schnell.

Ein Pferd ist

schnell

er.

Ein Gepard ist

am

schnell

st

en.


Attributive position (in front of the noun)

ein

nett

er

Mann

ein

nett

er

er

Mann

der *

nett

est

e

Mann

* The superlative is formed with the definite article only.


Comparisons / Examples

Comparison exercise

Of course there is also an online exercise covering this topic:

The exercise