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Comparatives and superlatives

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omparatives and superlatives are used to compare two or more nouns.

Comparatives and superlatives

Comparatives compare to twhings, eg curry is tastier than pasta.

Superlatives highlight the what’s the most of something, eg but chocolate is the tastiest. Other examples include: ‘biggest’, ‘smallest’ and ‘nicest’.

How to form comparatives

The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

  1. Take an adjective or adverb -> freundlich (friendly)
  2. Add an -er on the end -> freundlicher (friendlier)
  3. Put it in a sentence (‘than’ is ‘als‘) -> Bill ist freundlicher als Ben (Bill is friendlier than Ben).

Examples of comparatives in use

  • Ich bin schlank, aber du bist schlanker als ich – I am slim but you are slimmer than me
  • Jungen sind intelligent, aber sind Jungen intelligenter als Mädchen? – Boys are intelligent but are boys more intelligent than girls?
  • Kunst ist interessant, aber Sport ist interessanter als Kunst – Art is interesting but PE is more interesting than Art.
  • Ich laufe schnell, aber du läufst schneller als mich – I run fast but you run faster than me.
  • Ich esse langsam, aber er isst langsamer als die ganze Familie! – I eat slowly but he eats slower than the whole family!

Notice how in English with longer adjectives, we say ‘more’ (eg more interesting) – but that in German you still add – er on the end of the adjective, eg interessanter.

How to form superlatives

  1. Take an adjective or adverb -> freundlich (friendly)
  2. Add -ste on the end -> freundlichste (friendliest)
  3. Add -este if there is a -t or -d at the end of the adjective -> lauteste (loudest)
  4. If there is a noun put der, die or das (the) -> Bill ist der freundlichste Junge (Bill is the friendliest boy)
  5. If you want to say someone/something is the most active/greediest where there is no noun, add am … sten -> Bill ist am freundlichsten(Bill is the friendliest)

Examples of superlatives in use

  1. Musik ist das interessanteste Fach -> Music is the most interesting subject
  2. Das Bugatti Veyron ist das schnellste Auto -> The Bugatti Veyron is the fastest car
  3. Meine Freundin ist am schönsten -> My girlfriend is the most beautiful
  4. Mein Vater singt am lautesten -> My father sings the loudest
  5. Der neue Audi fährt am leisesten -> The new Audi runs the most quietly

Notice how in English, with longer adjectives we say ‘most’ (eg most interesting) – but that in German you still add -ste on the end of the adjective, eg interessanteste.

Irregular comparatives and superlatives

Common irregular comparatives and superlatives.

Adjectives

Comparative form Superlative form
hoch (high) höher (higher) der/die/das höchste am höchsten (highest)
gut (good) besser (better) der/die/das beste am besten (best)
lang (long) länger (longer) der/die/das längste am längsten (longest)
kurz (short) kürzer (shorter) der/die/das kürzeste am kürzesten (shortest)
gern (like) lieber (prefer) der/die/das liebste am liebsten (favourite)
nah (near) näher (nearer) der/die/das nächste am nächsten (nearest)
viel (many) mehr (more) die meisten am meisten (most)

Examples of comparatives and superlatives in use

  • Meine Haare ist kürzer als deine und meine Schwesters Haare ist am kürzesten – My hair is shorter than yours and my sister’s hair is the shortest.
  • Ich spiele gern Golf aber am liebsten fahre ich Rad – I like playing golf but I prefer to go cycling.
  • Viele Leute, die in die Arbeit fahren, fahren mit dem Bus. Die meisten Arbeitnehmer fahren aber mit dem Zug – many people who travel to work go by bus. Most employees however travel by train.

Adjectives after indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are words like ‘viel‘ (a lot of), ‘wenig‘ (a little), ‘etwas‘ (something) and ‘nichts‘ (nothing). They can be combined with adjectives to make expressions like ‘something exciting’ or ‘nothing special’.

When this happens, the adjective is made into a noun. Here’s an example using interessant.

  1. Add a capital letter -> Interessant.
  2. Add an –s on the end if there isn’t one already -> Interessantes.
  3. Put the indefinite pronoun on the front -> Nichts Interessantes (nothing interesting) or Etwas Interessantes (something interesting) etc.

More examples of adjectives after pronouns

  1. Ich werde etwas Teueres kaufen -> I’m going to buy something expensive.
  2. Er hat viel Neues gelernt -> He learnt a lot of new things.
  3. Wir machen nichts Besonderes -> We’re doing nothing special.

Common mistakes made by English speakers

  • Using ‘mehr‘ to form comparatives, eg ‘mehr interessant‘ not interessanter.

 

 

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