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What is a Comparative Adjective or Adverb?

Since you’ve landed in this blog post you’re probably looking for some grammar help related to German adjectives and their comparative.

In order to get started, let’s repeat what adjectives are. In general, an adjective is a word or phrase that describe or modify another person or object in a sentence.

Here are a few examples:

light = hell Example: The skirt is light. = Der Rock ist hell. OR: Das ist ein heller Rock.

fast = schnell Example: The car drives fast. = Das Auto fährt schnell. OR: Das ist ein schnelles Auto.

big = groß Example: The city is big. = Die Stadt ist groß. OR: Das ist eine große Stadt.

rich = reich Example: These people are rich. = Diese Leute sind reich. OR: Das sind reiche Leute.

Adverbs can be one word or a phrase that describes an adjective, verb, another adverb or a word group related to time, location, circumstance, manner, cause, degree etc. To make it easier, let’s look at some examples:

The woman is very kind. = Die Frau ist sehr nett.

The child over there laughs. = Das Kind da drüben lacht.

Come to me right now! = Komm sofort zu mir!

The music sounds a little sad. = Die Musik klingt ein bisschen traurig.

I sort of like this movie a lot. = Ich mag den Film irgendwie sehr.

Now, that we are on the same page related to the adjectives and adverbs, let’s find out what the comparative is. By the way, the comparative has just a few simple rules. Therefore, this is pretty easy to learn.

The comparative (German: der Komparativ) is used when you compare two persons or objects.

Here are a few examples:

Jim walks faster than Mary. = Jim läuft schneller als Mary.

Bill is richer than Harry. = Bill ist reicher als Harry.

It rains more often than last year. = Es regnet öfters als letztes Jahr.

You may have noticed that English and German are very similar in how the comparative is formed in this case. Just add –er to the adjective or adverb.

What does it look like when the comparative of the adjective is used right in front of a noun?

A) Using the definite article: der, die, das

This is the lighter skirt. = Das ist der hellere Rock.

This is the bigger city. = Das ist die größere Stadt.

This is the faster car. = Das ist das schnellere Auto

These are the richer people. = Das sind die reicheren Leute.

B) Using the indefinite article: ein, eine

This is a lighter skirt. = Das ist ein hellerer Rock.

This is a bigger city. = Das ist eine größere Stadt.

This is a faster car. = Das ist ein schnelleres Auto

These are richer people. = Das sind reichere Leute.

Note: In both cases, for definite and indefinite article, the comparative ending is followed by the normal adjective ending that you use for German genders.

Now, that you’ve learned the general rules, let’s look at some exceptions. This language wouldn’t be called German if there weren’t any exceptions! 🙂 But don’t worry, they are manageable.

There are a number of German comparatives that change their vowel into an Umlaut. Mostly, these are one-syllable words. Here is a list of most of them:

Comparative Adjectives with Umlaut

Examples for German comparatives with Umlaut:

Do you know the older girl? = Kennst du das ältere Mädchen?

This road is much shorter. = Dieser Weg ist viel kürzer.

The perfume smells a little stronger. = Das Parfüm riecht ein bißchen stärker.

Some adjectives and adverbs end in –el, -en, -r. In this case, they lose the final –e- before adding the comparative ending –er.

Comparative Adjectives with Suffix  –el, -en, -r

Now, the highlight of the German comparatives – the irregular ones.

Here is a list of them:

Irregular German Comparative 800x595

Note: When using ‘hoch’, infront of a noun, it changes to ‘hoh-‘.

The building is high. = Das Gebäude ist hoch.

It is a high building. = Es ist ein hohes Gebäude.

Examples for the irregular comparatives:

The train arrives sooner. = Der Zug kommt eher an.

This bread is better. = Dieses Brot ist besser.

He lives nearer than John. = Er wohnt näher als John.

The higher building is over there. = Das höhere Gebäude ist da drüben.

There are more little nuances to the comparative. However, these are the main rules. Once you can use those properly, you get already a long way doing comparisons in German.

German Elefants Comparing Each Other


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  • Michael June 27, 2015, 4:10 AM

    Thanks for the lesson with the adjextives. I will forward this article to my students as a major recommendation. Some of them have already opened up their own blog on http://www.german-deutsch.com.
    I would appreciate your comments