Comparative & Superlative Forms

The comparative forms of German adjectives work a lot like English:

Mein Auto ist klein.
My car is small.
Dein Auto ist kleiner.
Your car is smaller.
Sein Auto ist am kleinsten.
His car is the smallest.

When these forms come before a noun, they take the standard adjective case endings from the previous section:

Nimm das größere Stück
Take the larger piece
Mein größter Sieg war...
My greatest victory was...

As illustrated above, some adjectives add an umlaut in their comparative forms. There’s no rule about this, although it happens most often with shorter and more common adjectives.

As in English, there are a few common adjectives with irregular comparative forms. For example:

gut / besser / am besten
good / better / best
bald / eher / am ehesten
soon / sooner / soonest
hoch / höher / am höchsten
high / higher / highest
viel(e) / mehr / am meisten
much, many / more / the most

In English, you can use “more” and “(the) most” with some adjectives instead of the –er and –est endings. You wouldn’t say “more small” or “more good” but you can say “more friendly” or “more intense” -- in fact, "intenser" would sound odd. In German you can’t do this, and “mehr ____” is one of the most common “Englisch-Deutsch” mistakes. Always use the "er" and "st" forms, even when you wouldn't use them on the English word.

However, in cases where you’d use “more” in the sense of comparing two adjectives, you can use the German word “eher”:

Es ist eher langweilig als schwierig.
It’s more boring than difficult.