Adjectives in German Grammar

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What are adjectives?

Adjectives (Adjektive) are describing words; they allow us to give more information about what a person, place or thing is like.

German adjectives can be one of three types depending on where they appear in a sentence: attributive adjectives are used before nouns, predicative adjectives are used after the verbs sein, bleiben and werden, and adverbial adjectives are used with all other verbs.

These types not only dictate how we form the comparative and superlative of an adjective, but also if and how we need to decline it — so it’s good to get familiar!

Learn all about the different types of adjectives in German grammar with Lingolia, then put your knowledge to the test in the interactive exercises.

Dive deeper into the topic of German adjectives with our pages and exercises on adjective declension, adjective formation and nominalised adjectives.


Auf dem Marktplatz stehen zwei verrückte Clowns. Ein Clown ist akrobatischer als der andere – er jongliert gut und hat große Schuhe. Aber die Schuhe des anderen Clowns sind am größten.

Die Clowns verkaufen bunte Luftballons. Je lustiger die Clowns sind, desto mehr Leute kaufen die Ballons.

Types of adjectives in German grammar

In German, adjectives can be used with nouns or verbs.

Adjectives with nouns

German adjectives come before nouns and are declined; their ending changes according to the case of the sentence and the gender and number of the noun they’re describing.

When used before a noun, they are called attributive adjectives (attributives Adjektiv).

Auf dem Marktplatz steht ein verrückter Clown.There’s a crazy clown in the main square.
nominative case, indefinite article, masculine noun = -er ending (type 2 declension)
Der Clown verkauft bunte Luftballons.The clown is selling colourful balloons.
accusative case, no article, plural noun = -e ending (type 3 declension)

Go to our page on adjective declension in German grammar for more information on attributive adjectives and relevant exercises.

Adjectives with verbs

When we use a German adjective with a verb, it is not declined and is either:

  • a predicative adjective (prädikative Adjektive) used after the verbs seinbe, bleibenstay and werdenbecome.
    Der Clown ist verrückt.The clown is crazy.
  • or an adverbial adjective (adverbiale Adjektive); these are used with all other verbs and describe how an action is performed. They are equivalent to English adverbs like slowly, quickly, quietly, etc.
Er läuft schnell.He walks quickly.
Er jongliert gut.He juggles well.

Nominalised adjectives

German adjectives can also be nominalised adjectives (substantivierte Adjektive); these are adjectives that have been transformed into nouns.

We’ve got a whole page all about nominalised adjectives in German grammar in our section on nouns and article declension. Check it out for info and exercises.

Comparative & superlative adjectives

German uses comparative adjectives (Steigerungsformen) to make comparisons or express superlatives.

Like in English, German adjectives have three comparative forms:

  • basic (positive Form)
  • comparative (Komparativ)
  • superlative (Superlativ)
schön – schöner – am schönstennice – nicer – the nicest
basic – comparative – superlative

Comparisons with basic adjectives

In German, we use basic adjectives with so … wieas … as to make comparisons.

Der eine Clown ist so lustig wie der andere.That clown is as funny as the other one.

We can also use the following structures to make comparisons with basic adjectives:

  • genauso … wiejust as … as
  • nicht so … wienot as … as
  • fast so … wiealmost as … as
  • doppelt so … wietwice as … as
  • halb so … wiehalf as … as


Comparisons with so … wie can be translated with the English structure as … as. But learners with an English-speaking background should take care to avoid this common mistake:

Der eine Clown ist genauso lustig als der andere.
→ Der eine Clown ist genauso lustig wie der andere.That clown is just as funny as the other one.

Comparative adjectives in German

The comparative (der Komparativ) compares two people, places or things.

To form the comparative in German, we add -er to the basic form of the adjective.

lustig → lustigerfunny → funnier
klein → kleinersmall → smaller

Unlike English, all German adjectives are formed with -er and never with mehr.

interessant → interessanterinteresting → more interesting
not: mehr interessant
akrobatisch → akrobatischeracrobatic → more acrobatic
not: mehr akrobatisch

The comparative is followed by als (= than).

Dieser Clown ist akrobatischer als der andere.This clown is more acrobatic than the other one.

Comparatives with je … desto/umso

The expressions je … desto and je … umso (= the … the) show that two things have a parallel relationship or that one thing depends on another.

Je lustiger die Clowns sind, desto lauter werden die Kinder.The funnier the clowns are, the louder the children get.

The je clause is a subordinate clause, this means that the verb comes at the end of the clause.

Je lustiger die Clowns sind, …The funnier the clowns are, …

The desto/umso clause is the main clause, this means that the verb comes directly after the comparative.

… desto lauter werden die Kinder.… the louder the children get.

Superlative adjectives in German

The superlative (der Superlativ) expresses the highest degree of something (the best, the worst, the tallest …).

For adjectives that we don’t need to decline, we form the superlative with am + …-sten.

lustig → am lustigstenfunny → the funniest
Ich fand den Clown am lustigsten.I thought that clown was the funniest.

For adjectives that we do have to decline (attributive adjectives), we form the superlative with the definite article (der, die, das) + …-st + the declension ending.

Das ist der lustigste Clown.That’s the funniest clown.

Learn more about adjective declension in German grammar.

Comparative spelling rules and exceptions

Spelling Rules

  • One-syllable adjectives often take an umlaut in their comparative forms.
    jung – jünger – am jüngstenyoung – younger – the youngest
  • Adjectives that end in d/t or s/ß/x/z usually form the superlative with -est rather than just -st. The e creates an extra syllable to aid pronunciation. (Exception: groß – am größten)
    wild – wilder – am wildestenwild – wilder – the wildest
    laut – lauter – am lautestenloud – louder – the loudest
    heiß – heißer – am heißestenhot – hotter – the hottest
    Note: this rule doesn’t apply to participles that end in -d
    auffallend – auffallender – am auffallendstenstriking – more striking – the most striking
  • The e of the unstressed ending el/bel is removed in the comparative, but not in the superlative.
    edel – edler – am edelstenprecious – more precious – the most precious
    flexibel – flexibler – am flexibelstenflexible – more flexible – the most flexible
    But: The e remains when the ending -el is stressed and for the ending ell.
    fidel – fideler – am fidelstenmerry – merrier – the merriest
    originell – origineller – am originellstenoriginal – more original – the most original

Irregular Comparative Forms

A handful of German adjectives have completely irregular comparative and superlative forms:

Irregular Forms
Basic Comparative Superlative
gutgood besserbetter best-the best
vielmuch/many mehrmore meist-the most
nahclose nähercloser nächst-the closest
hochhigh höherhigher höchst-the highest
großbig größerbigger größt-the biggest

Do I have to decline German adjectives?

Yes! We have to decline adjectives when they come before a noun in the basic, comparative and superlative forms.

This means that we have to add an ending that corresponds to the case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular or plural) of the noun being described.

Genauso einen lustigen Clown habe ich gestern gesehen.I saw a funny clown just like that yesterday. (basic adjective)
accusative case, indefinite article, masculine noun = -en ending (type 2 declension)
Dieser Clown hat größere Schuhe als der andere.This clown has bigger shoes than the other one. (comparative)
accusative case, no article, plural noun = -er ending (type 3 declension)
Das ist der lustigste Clown.That’s the funniest clown. (superlative)
nominative case, definite article, masculine noun = -e (type 1 declension)

Learn more about how to decline attributive adjectives in German grammar.

Dive deeper into the topic of German adjectives with the following pages: