German Comparative and Superlative Endings
Comparative and Superlative adjectives in German are similar to forms in English Grammar. Let's start with this: We use comparative adjective to compare things. And there are three comparative forms in German: positive (schön), comparative (schöner) and superlative (am schönsten). The positive form is the basic form of the adjective. The comparative is the first form of comparison. The ending -er is added to the adjective and the sentences is constructed with als (than). The superlative is the highest form of comparison. We put am or the definite article in front of the adjective and add -ste(n) to the end.
The same way we can place a positive adjective (an adjective in its base form) before a noun, we can also place an adjective in its comparative or superlative form before an adjective. They will follow the exact same table of “weak” and “strong” endings. When placing a superlative adjective, however, we will need to drop the “am”.
Der Berg ist am höchsten. The mountain is the tallest (highest).
Der höchste Berg ist Mt. Everest. The tallest (highest) mountain is Mt. Everest.
1. “Strong” Adjective Endings
When a noun is preceded by an “ein”-word (indefinite article, negative article or possessive article: ein, kein, mein, etc) then the adjective that is placed before the noun (and behind the article) will have a “strong” ending depending on the gender and case of the noun. It is very uncommon to use a superlative adjective with an “ein”-word.
Ein Auto ist schneller als ein Fahhrad. A car is faster than a bike.
The comparative adjective “schneller” is behind the noun “car” so no ending is needed.
Ein schnelleres Auto gibt es nicht. There is no faster car.
“schneller” appears before “Auto”, so we add the strong adjective ending for a neutral nominative noun “-es”. We add
Eine Rose ist am schönsten. A rose is the most beautiful.
The superlative adjective “(am) schönst(en)” is behind the noun “Rose”, so no ending is needed.
Meine schönste Blume ist die Rose. My most beautiful flower is the rose.
The superlative adjective “(die) schönste” is before the noun “Rose”, so we add the strong adjective ending for a feminine nominative “-e” to “schönst”, and we drop “am”.
2. “Weak” Adjective Endings
When a noun is preceded by a “der”-word (definite article, demonstrative pronoun, indefinite pronoun: der, dieser, jeder, etc.) then the adjective that is placed before the noun (and behind the article) will have a “weak” ending depending on the gender and case of the noun.
Dieser Spieler was besser. This player was better.
The comparative adjective “besser” is behind the noun “car” so no ending is needed.
Der bessere Spieler hat gewonnen. The better player (has) won.
“besser” (comparative of “gut”) is placed before “Spieler”, so we add the weak ending for a masculine nominative noun “-e”
Der beste Spieler hat gewonnen. The best player (has) won.
“(am) best-” (superlative of “gut” is placed before “Spieler”, so we drop “am”, and add the weak ending “‘-e” for a masculine noun in the nominative.
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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.