Easy Learning German

Comparatives and superlatives of adverbs - Easy Learning Grammar German

1 Comparative adverbs

What is a comparative adverb?
A comparative adverb is one which, in English, has -er on the end of it or more or less in front of it, for example, earlier, later, sooner, more/less frequently.
  • Adverbs can be used to make comparisons in German, just as they can in English. The comparative of adverbs is formed in exactly the same way as that of adjectives, that is by adding -er to the basic form. Als is used for than.
Sie läuft schneller als ihr Bruder.She runs faster than her brother.
Ich sehe ihn seltener als früher.I see him less often than before.
  • To make as … as or not as … as comparisons with adverbs, you use the same phrases as with adjectives.
  • so … wie        as … as
Er läuft so schnell wie sein Bruder.He runs as fast as his brother.
  • nicht so … wie        not as … as
Sie kann nicht so gut schwimmen wie du.She can’t swim as well as you.
  • The idea of more and more … is expressed in German by using immer and the comparative form.
Die Männer sprachen immer lauter.The men were talking louder and louder.
  • the more … the more … is expressed in German by je … desto … or je … umso …
Je eher, desto besser.The sooner the better.
Je schneller sie fährt, umso mehr Angst habe ich!The faster she drives, the more frightened I am!

2 Superlative adverbs

What is a superlative adverb?
A superlative adverb is one which, in English, has -est on the end of it or most or least in front of it, for example, soonest, fastest, most/least frequently.
  • The superlative of adverbs in German is formed in the following way and, unlike adjectives, is not declined:
am + adverb + -sten
Wer von ihnen arbeitet am schnellsten?Which of them works fastest?
Er hat es am langsamsten gemacht.He did it slowest.
  • Adverbs ending in -d, -t, -tz, -z, -sch, -ss, or form the superlative by adding -esten. This makes pronunciation easier.
Das Erdbeereis war bei den Kindern am beliebtesten.The strawberry ice cream was the most popular one with the kids.
Am heißesten war es im Südspanien.It was hottest in southern Spain.
  • Note that some superlative adverbs are used to show the extent of a quality rather than a comparison. The following adverbs are used in this way:
AdverbMeaning
bestensvery well
höchstensat the most/at best
meistensmostly/most often
spätestensat the latest
wenigstensat least
 
Die Geschäfte gehen bestens.Business is going very well.
Er kommt meistens zu spät an.He usually arrives late.
Wenigstens bekomme ich mehr Geld dafür.At least I’m getting more money for it.

3 Adverbs with irregular comparatives and superlatives

  • A few German adverbs have irregular comparative and superlative forms.
AdverbMeaningComparativeMeaningSuperlativeMeaning
gernwelllieberbetteram liebstenbest
baldsoonehersooneram ehestensoonest
vielmuch, a lotmehrmoream meistenmost
 
Am liebsten lese ich Kriminalromane.I like detective stories best.
Sie hat am meisten gewonnen.She won the most.
Key points
  • Comparatives of adverbs are formed in the same way as comparatives of adjectives, adding -er to the basic form.
  • To compare people or things, you use so … wie, ebenso … wie or nicht so … wie.
  • Than in comparatives of adverbs corresponds to als.
  • Superlatives of adverbs are formed by using the formula am + adverb + -sten/-esten.
  • Unlike adjectives, adverbs do not change their form to agree with the verb, adjective or other adverb they relate to.

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