German Comparative

Overview

The German Comparative is quite similar to the forms in English Grammar. We use comparative adjectives to compare things. There are three comparative forms in German: positive (schön), comparative (schöner) and superlative (am schönsten).

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1. Comparative Adjectives 

Comparisons in German (der Komparativ) are similar to those found in English. In both languages, the comparative ending ‘er’ is added to adjectives to make them comparative; however, English uses “more” for some adjectives whereas German does not. 

Example: 
Er fährt schnell, aber sie fährt schneller.    
He drives fast, but she drives faster.

In the example, ‘schnell’ is an adjective that simply adds ‘er’ to the end to form the comparative. In German, there are a few rules to be aware of when forming the comparative:

  • Monosyllabic adjectives with stem vowel ‘a,’ ‘o,’ or ‘u’ add an umlaut to the stem vowel (e.g. alt → älter; groß → größer; kurz → kürzer)
  • Adjectives ending in ‘e,’ ‘el,’ or ‘er’ either add an ‘r’ only or delete the final ‘e’ before adding ‘er’ (e.g. teuer → teurer)

2. “als” and “so… wie

When we compare two nouns and want to express than one noun is more of something  than another noun (for example, faster, bigger, etc) than another, we use “als” 

Example:
Dein Auto ist schneller als mein Auto. 
Your car is faster than my car. 

When we compare two nouns and want to express that one noun is as much of something as another noun (as fast as, as big as), wie use “so… wie”. In English and in German, we then use the positive/regular adjective, and not the comparative adjective. (“as fast as”, not “as faster as”) If we want to add that something is exactly the same, we can add “genau”. To negate it (“not as fast as”), we can add “nicht”. (nicht so schnell wie). When we use “als” or “so…wie”, the noun is typically in the nominative case. 

Example:
Dein Auto ist (genau) so schnell wie mein Auto. 
Your car is (exactly) as fast as my car. 

3. Irregular Adjectives 

In English and in German, there are adjectives that do not follow the regular comparative pattern of adding “-er”. For example, the comparative of “good” is not “gooder” but “better”. A few examples of irregular adjectives in German are:

gern (gladly)  – lieber (more gladly)
gut (good)  – besser (better)
hoch (high/tall) – höher (higher/taller)
viel (much, a lot) – mehr (more

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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.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.