Comparative and Superlative Adjectives and Adverbs


We use comparative forms when we are comparing things with each other. There are three comparative forms: positive, comparative, and superlative.
Maria läuft so schnell wie Susanne. Friederike läuft schneller als Maria. Friederike läuft am schnellsten. Sie ist die schnellste Läuferin.


The positive form is the basic form of the adjective, which we use with the comparison words so … wie.
Maria läuft so schnell wie Susanne.
Further expressions which use positive comparisons are:
  • genauso … wie
  • nicht so … wie
  • fast so … wie
  • doppelt so … wie
  • halb so … wie


The comparative is the first form of comparison. We construct the comparative with als and add the ending er to the adjective.
Friederike läuft schneller als Maria.


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.
Friederike läuft am schnellsten.
Sie ist die schnellste Läuferin.

Exceptions for the Comparatives

General Exceptions

  • Adjectives that end with d/t or s/ß/x/z usually form the superlative with est.
    laut – lauter – am lautesten
    heiß – heißer – am heißesten
  • Monosyllabic adjectives often form the comparative with an umlaut.
    jung – jünger – am jüngsten
  • Some adjectives have irregular comparative forms (see table).
    gut – besser – am besten
irregular comparative forms
positive comparative superlative
gut besser best-
viel mehr meist-
nah näher nächst-
hoch höher höchst-
groß größer größt-

Attributive Adjectives

  • Attributive adjectives have to be declined in all comparative forms. To do this, first we add the ending for the comparative form, then the ending for the declension. Attributive adjectives always form the superlative with the definite article.
    der kleine Junge/der kleinere Junge/der kleinste Junge
    ein kleiner Junge/ein kleinerer Junge/der kleinste Junge

Adverbial/Predicative Adjectives

  • Adverbial adjectives always form the superlative with am, and we add the ending sten to the adjective.
    wichtig – wichtiger – am wichtigsten
  • Predicative adjectives can form the superlative not only with am but also with the definite article. If we’re using the definite article, we add the ending ste to the adjective.
    Diese Aufgabe ist am wichtigsten.
    Diese Aufgabe ist die wichtigste.

Positive degree

This is the unmodified adjective.

Ich bin müde I am tired

The comparative of equality and inferiority is formed with the positive degree:

Comparative of equality

Clauses of equality are formed with this construction: so + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Peter ist so dünn wie Tomas Peter is as thin as Tomas

or with the construction: gleich + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Peter ist gleich ungelenk wie Tomas Peter is as clumsy as Tomas

A very common usage is for comparing quantities of something. The structure is: so + viel + NON-COUNT NOUN + wie / so + viele + COUNT NOUN + wie

Ich habe so viel Geld wie du I have as much money as you

Ich habe so viele Autos wie du I have as many cars as you

Comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority’s structure is: nicht so + POSITIVE ADJECTIVE + wie

Du bist nicht so intelligent wie ich You’re not as intelligent as me

Comparative degree

The comparative degree is for constructing the comparative of superiority. The comparative grade is formed generally by adding “er” to the adjective:

intelligent intelligenter intelligent more intelligent

Comparative of superiority

The comparative of superiority is formed with the construction: ADJECTIVE IN COMPARATIVE DEGREE + als

Er ist stärker als ich He is stronger than me

Peter ist dünner als Tomas Peter is thinner than Tomas

Forming the comparative degree (special cases)

  • If the adjective ends with “-e”, one “-r” is added (the “-e” is not doubled)

müde müder tired more tired

feige feiger cowardly more cowardly

  • de + “-er”.

teuer teurer expensive more expensive

dunkel dunkler dark darker

  • If the adjective ends with “-er”, it can be formed regularly with + “-er” or, like the previous case, by losing the last “-e” + “-er”.

    lecker leckerer / leckrer delicious more delicious

    sauber sauberer / saubrer clean cleaner

  • If an adjective is a monosyllable, an “Umlaut” ( ¨ ) + “er” is added (usually with vowels a, o, y and u). This also happens with the superlative degree.

krank kränker sick sicker

Comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority is formed with the construction: weniger + ADJECTIVE + als

Er ist weniger intelligent als ich He is less intelligent than me

Superlative degree

  • The superlative with the structure:am + Adjective in positive degree + -sten Whenever the adjective does not accompany a noun:

Welches Auto ist am billigsten? Which car is the cheapest?

  • If an adjective is monosyllabic (just one syllable), with vowels a, o, y and u, an “Umlaut” ( ¨ ) + “-sten” is added.This also happens in the comparative degree.

krank am kränksten sick sickest

  • When the adjective ends with one of the consonants: “-d”, “-t”, “-s”, “-ß”, “-sch”, “-x” or “-z” an “-e-” is added between the adjective in the positive degree and the ending “-sten.”

seriös am seriösesten serious the most serious

süß am süßesten sweet the sweetest

There are some exceptions as in:

dringend am dringendsten urgent the most urgent

neidisch am neidischsten jealous the most jealous

groß am größten tall the tallest

Attributive Adjective. Superlative without ‘am’

A frequent concern is about when to use am in the superlative and when not to. If the adjective is accompanied by a noun (the attributive form) am is not used. Example:

Tata Nano ist das billigste Auto der Welt Tata Nano is the cheapest car in the world

Irregular adjectives

The following adjectives form the comparative and superlative irregularly:
Adjective Comparative Superlative Meaning
gut besser am besten good, better, the best
viel mehr am meisten much, more, the most
gern lieber am liebsten gladly, preferably, most preferably
hoch höher am höchsten high, higher, highest
nahe näher am nächsten near, nearer, nearest
Comparisons in German generally work in a way that is similar to English. An Austrian brewery advertises its Gösser beer brand with the slogan: “gut, besser, Gösser” (“good, better, Gösser”). The German edition of Reader’s Digest is known as Das Beste (…aus Reader’s Digest). To form the comparative for most adjectives or adverbs in German you simply add -er, as inneu/neuer (new/newer) or klein/kleiner (small/smaller). For the superlative, English uses the -est ending, the same as in German except that German often drops the e and usually adds an adjective ending: (der) neueste (the newest) or (das) kleinste (the smallest). Unlike English, however, German never uses “more” (mehr) with another modifier to form the comparative. In English something may be “more beautiful” or someone could be “more intelligent.” But in German these are both expressed with the -er ending: schöner andintelligenter. So far, so good. But unfortunately German also has some irregular comparisons, just as English does.

Sometimes these irregular forms are quite similar to those in English. Compare, for instance, the English good/better/best with the German gut/besser/am besten. On the other hand, high/higher/highest is hoch/höher/am höchsten in German. But there are only a few of these irregular forms, and they are easy to learn, as you can see below.

Irregular Adjective/Adverb Comparison
bald (soon) eher (sooner) am ehesten (soonest)
gern (gladly) lieber (more gladly) am liebsten (most gladly)
groß (big) größer (bigger) am größten (biggest) der/die/das größte
gut (good) besser (better) am besten (best) der/die/das beste
hoch (high) höher (higher) am höchsten (highest) der/die/das höchste
nah (near) näher (nearer) am nächsten (nearest) der/die/das nächste
viel (much) mehr (more) am meisten (most) die meisten
There is one more irregularity that affects both the comparative and superlative of many German adjectives and adverbs: the added umlaut ( ¨ ) over ao, or u in most one-syllable adjectives/adverbs. Below are some examples of this kind of comparison. Exceptions (do not add an umlaut) include bunt (colorful), falsch (wrong), froh (merry), klar (clear), laut (loud), and wahr(true).
Irregular Comparison – Umlaut Added Examples
dumm (dumb) dümmer (dumber) am dümmsten (dumbest) der/die/das dümmste
kalt (cold) kälter (colder) am kältesten* (coldest) der/die/das kälteste*
  *Note the “connecting” e in the superlative: kälteste
klug (smart) klüger (smarter) am klügsten (smartest) der/die/das klügste
lang (long) länger (longer) am längsten (longest) der/die/das längste
stark (strong) stärker (stronger) am stärksten (strongest) der/die/das stärkste
warm (warm) wärmer (warmer) am wärmsten (warmest) der/die/das wärmste
In order to use the comparative forms above and to express relative comparisons or equality/inequality (“as good as” or “not as tall as”) in German, you also need to know the following phrases and formulations using alsso-wie, or je-desto:
  • mehr/größer/besser als = more/bigger/better than
  • (nicht) so viel/groß/gut wie = (not) as much/big/good as
  • je größer desto besser = the bigger/taller the better
Below are a few sample sentences to show how the positive, comparative, and superlative forms are used in German.
My sister is not as tall as I am. Meine Schwester ist nicht so groß wie ich.
His Audi is much more expensive than my VW. Sein Audi ist viel teurer als mein VW.
We prefer to travel by train. Wir fahren lieber mit der Bahn.
Karl is the oldest. Karl is oldest. Karl ist der Älteste. Karl ist am ältesten.
The more people, the better. Je mehr Leute, desto besser.
He likes to play basketball, but most of all he likes to play soccer. Er spielt gern Basketball, aber am liebsten spielt er Fußball.
The ICE [train] travels/goes the fastest. Der ICE fährt am schnellsten.
Most people don’t drive as fast as he does. Die meisten Leute fahren nicht so schnell wie er.

Difference between “wie” and “als” (wie vs als)

An additional explanation. “Wie” will be used for the comparative of equality, while “als” will be used for the comparative of superiority. The comparison of adjectives in English: To form the comparative of an adjective, English adds -er to shorter words (“prettier”) or places more in front of more complicated ones (“more beautiful”). To form the superlative of an adjective, English adds -est (“prettiest”) or uses most (“most beautiful”). To form the comparative of an adverb, English adds -er to those that do not end in -ly (“faster”) and places more in front of those that do end in -ly (“more quickly”). To form the superlative of an adverb, English adds -est to those that do not end in -ly (“fastest”) and places most in front of those that do (“most quickly”).
The comparison of adjectives and adverbs in German: No matter how long the adjective or adverb, German always adds -er (“schöner”, “interessanter”). Never use mehr for this purpose. Adjective endings follow the -er. Of course, adverbs and predicate adjectives take no endings.
Wir haben den süßeren Wein bestellt.
We ordered the sweeter wine.
Die schlankere Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivere.
The slimmer woman isn’t necessarily the more attractive one.
Er fährt schneller, wenn es nicht regnet.
He drives faster when it isn’t raining.
Sie steht ziemlich links, aber ihr Mann ist konservativer.
She’s pretty left-wing, but her husband’s more conservative.
 To form the superlative, German always adds -st or -est. Other than the few exceptions mentioned below, superlative adjectives always require a further ending:
Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand, wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?
Wir haben den trockensten Wein bestellt.
We ordered the driest wine.
Die schlankste Frau ist nicht unbedingt die attraktivste.
The slimmest woman isn’t necessarily the most attractive one.
The superlative forms of adverbs or predicate adjectives take the form of “am -sten:”
Er singt am lautesten. He sings the loudest.
Ich bin am glücklichsten, wenn ich allein bin. I’m happiest when I’m alone.
Some superlative forms of adverbs can end in “-stens” (without “am”):
Wir essen meistens in der Küche. We mostly eat in the kitchen.
Ich bin bestens versorgt. I’m very well provided for.
Hunde sind hier strengstens verboten. Dogs are strictly forbidden here.
Ihr Wagen wird frühestens Mittwoch fertig sein. Your car will be ready on Wednesday at the earliest.
The basic forms:
Positive Comparative Superlative or
klein kleiner am kleinsten der/die/das kleinste
intelligent intelligenter am intelligentesten der/die/das intelligenteste
Some adjectives, almost always monosyllabic, add an umlaut. Here are some of the more common ones:  
alt älter am ältesten old
arm ärmer am ärmsten poor
dumm dümmer am dümmsten stupid
gesund gesünder am gesündesten healthy
grob gröber am gröbsten coarse
groß größer am größten large
hart härter am härtesten hard
jung jünger am jüngsten young
kalt kälter am kältesten cold
klug klüger am klügsten smart
kurz kürzer am kürzesten short
lang länger am längsten long
oft öfter am öftesten often
scharf schärfer am schärfsten sharp; spicy
schwach schwächer am schwächsten weak
schwarz schwärzer am schwärzesten black
stark stärker am stärksten strong
warm wärmer am wärmsten warm
Several other adjectives may or may not take an umlaut (It’s up to the speaker, but in most cases the umlaut is unusual):
blaß pale fromm pious glatt slick krank sick
naß wet rot red schmal narrow
Dining Hall Orientation. Our gastronomic traffic light: [red] Preferably infrequently! Best combined with green. [yellow] A good choice! Take repeatedly! [green] The best choice! The more often, the better!
Some adjectives or adverbs change their stems in other ways, as well:
bald eher am ehesten soon
gern lieber am liebsten “gladly”
gut besser am besten good
hoch höher am höchsten high
nah näher am nächsten near
viel mehr am meisten much
Already today we’re looking forward to your next visit
Mr. 1000 Parts – Berlin’s best-known spare parts store for electric household appliances
Adjectives ending in -el or -er normally drop the -e- before the comparartive -er:  
dunkler darker
teurer more expensive
Adjectives ending in -d, -t, -s, -ß, -sch, or -z usually add -est:  
am breitesten the widest
am kürzesten the shortest
am weißesten the whitest
Exceptions: “am größten” (the biggest) and adjectives formed from present participles: “am entgenkommendsten” (the most accommodating).
Unsliced cheese simply tastes better. Our tip! for it has a fresher and fuller taste, can be used in more ways, and doesn’t dry out as fast
Using “als” and “wie” in making comparisons:
Ich bin so gut wie du. I’m as good as you.
Es ist nicht so warm wie gestern. It’s not as warm as yesterday.
Das ist genauso dumm wie dein letzter Vorschlag. That’s just as stupid as your last suggestion.
Du bist ebenso laut wie ich. You’re just as loud as I am.
Sie ist älter als ihr Bruder. She is older than her brother.
Ein Pferd kann schneller laufen als ein Mensch. A horse can run faster than a human.
Note: Many Germans use “wie” instead of “als” (“Ich bin besser wie du”), but this construction is considered to be bad grammar. Even speakers who do it themselves will correct a foreigner who makes this mistake. Intensifiers: to indicate a progressive development, English repeats the comparative (“Things are getting better and better”). German can do that (“Es wird kälter und kälter”) or, more usually, use “immer”: “Es wird immer besser.”
The world is moving faster and faster
Similar to English’s “The more the merrier,” German employs “Je mehr, desto besser.”
The faster you’re on the information highway, the better wired you are to your customers
To prefer / like best:
Ich gehe gern ins Theater I like to go to the theater. Ich habe Weißwein gern. I like white wine.
Ich gehe lieber ins Kino. I prefer to go to the movies. Ich habe Rotwein lieber. I prefer red wine.
Ich gehe am liebsten ins Konzert. I most like to go to concerts.  Ich habe Sekt am liebsten. I like champagne best.
mehr or eher can be used to compare two qualities of the same person or thing:
Der Film ist mehr interessant als unterhaltend. The film is more interesting than entertaining.
Deine Witze sind eher traurig als witzig. Your jokes are more sad than funny.
Das ist eher möglich. That’s more likely.
Eher geht ein Kamel durch ein Nadelöhr, als dass ein Reicher in den Himmel kommt. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.
eher can also mean “rather; preferably”:
Ich gehe eher ins Theater. I prefer to go to the theater.
Eher hungere ich. I’d rather starve.
To express the notion of “favorite,” use the prefix Lieblings-:
Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist blau. My favorite color is blue.
Wenn mein Vater spazieren geht, ist sein Lieblingsziel die Kneipe an der Ecke. When my father goes for a walk, the pub on the corner is his favorite destination.
aller- intensifies a superlative:
Das habe ich am allerliebsten. I like that best of all.
Er arbeitet am allerschwersten. He works the hardest of all.
The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives have all the possibilities of the positive forms. They can modify nouns or form the basis of adjectival nouns. Logically, however, a superlative cannot of course follow an indefinite article (“ein höchster Berg” [a highest mountain]). Some examples:
“Ich bin der Größte!” “I am the greatest!”
Der teuerste Wagen gehört meinem älteren Bruder. The most expensive car belongs to my older brother.
Sie hat einen noch besseren Freund gefunden. She found an even better boyfriend.
Eine bessere Gelegenheit findest du nie. You’ll never find a better opportunity.
Von ihren Kindern ist das Jüngste am intelligentesten. Of her children, the youngest is the most intelligent.
Driving School… Also for “older people,” beginners, and “scaredy-cats” Training for licenses B, BE (passenger cars), also automatic shift
Similarly, the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs act like the positive forms. Some examples:
Ich würde das lieber früher als später hören. I’d rather hear that earlier than later.
Wir arbeiten hier seit längerer Zeit. We’ve been working here for some time.
Wie komme ich am besten in die Stadt? What’s the best way into town?
Ein älterer Herr hat mir geholfen. An older gentleman helped me.
For Mother’s Day give a piece of love! Selected praline-creations from the finest chocol
Cool story. Cool music. Cool thing. Beyond the Horizon – the Musical
German puts endings on articles, adjectives that precede nouns, and, occasionally on the nouns themselves in order to mark gender, case, and number. (The four cases, thenominative, accusative, dative, and genitive, are discussed elsewhere). Examples of the endings:
A strong back knows no pain.
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
 nom. der rote Stuhl die neueLampe das alte Buch die roten Stühle
* kein roterStuhl keine neueLampe * kein altesBuch keine neuenLampen
roter Stuhl neue Lampe altes Buch alte Bücher
 acc. den roten Stuhl die neue Lampe das alte Buch die roten Stühle
keinen roten Stuhl keine neue Lampe * kein altes Buch keine neuen Lampen
roten Stuhl neue Lampe altes Buch alte Bücher
 dat. dem roten Stuhl der neuen Lampe dem alten Buch den roten Stühlen
rotem Stuhl neuer Lampe altem Buch alten Büchern
 gen. des roten Stuhles der neuen Lampe des alten Buches der roten Stühle
roten Stuhles neuer Lampe alten Buches alter Büche
The Palace. One of the first addresses for your exclusive rental desires.
There are also a number of “weak nouns” that take an “-n” (or “-en”) in all cases but the nominative. Some examples:
 nom. acc. dat. gen.  der Mensch den Menschen dem Menschen des Menschen [human]  der Nachbar den Nachbarn dem Nachbarn des Nachbarn [neighbor]  der Herr den Herrn dem Herrn des Herrn [lord; gentleman]  der Held den Helden dem Helden des Helden [hero]
 nom. acc. dat. gen.  der Bote den Boten dem Boten des Boten [messenger]  der Kunde den Kunden dem Kunden des Kunden [customer]  der Junge den Jungen dem Jungen des Jungen [boy]  der Experte den Experten dem Experten des Experten [expert]
 nom. acc. dat. gen.  der Jude den Juden dem Juden des Juden [Jew]  der Russe den Russen dem Russen des Russen [Russian]  der Kollege den Kollegen dem Kollegen des Kollegen [colleague]  der Riese den Riesen dem Riesen des Riesen [giant]
A number of weak nouns have the suffixes “-ant”, “-arch”, “-ege”, “-ent”, “-ist”, “-oge”, “-om”, “-oph”, and “-ot”. Some examples:  
 der Buddist [Buddhist]  der Katholik [Catholic]  der Protestant [Protestant]  der Pilot [pilot]
 der Student [student]  der Komödiant [comedian]  der Astronom [astronomer]  der Patriarch [patriarch]
 der Philosoph [philosopher]  der Fotograf [photographer]  der Enthusiast [enthusiast]  der Anthropologe [anthropologist]
Note that all of these nouns are masculine. Furthermore, their plural forms are the same as their accusative, dative, and genitive singular forms: e.g., den Studenten, dem Studenten, des Studenten; [plural:] die Studenten, den Studenten, der Studenten. (“Herr” is an exception: den Herrn, dem Herrn, des Herrn; [plural:] die Herren, den Herren, der Herren). A few weak nouns add “-ns” in the genitive, for example:
 nom. acc. dat. gen.  der Glaube den Glauben dem Glauben des Glaubens [belief]  der Wille den Willen dem Willen des Willens [will]  der Gedanke den Gedanken dem Gedanken des Gedankens [thought]  der Name den Namen dem Namen des Namens [name]
One neuter noun is also weak in the dative and takes an “-ens” in the genitive
 nom. acc. dat. gen.  das Herz das Herz dem Herzen des Herzens [heart]
Uninflected adjectives: Predicate adjectives, like adverbs, take no endings:  
Das Haus ist schön. The house is beautiful.
Alles bleibt ruhig. Everything remains quiet.
With the exception of ein (one”), cardinal numbers take no endings:
Ich habe eine Schwester und einen Bruder. I have one sister and one brother.
Ich habe drei Schwestern. I have three sisters.
The best solution? Every second person has already found it. Berliner Sparkasse [Berlin Savings Bank]. Every second Berliner is already our customer. Demand more.
Ordinal numbers, on the other hand, act like normal adjectives
Er ist der siebte Sohn eines siebten Sohnes. He is the seventh son of a seventh son.
Das erste Mal ist immer schwierig. The first time is always hard.
Der einunddreißigste Juni ist der letzte Tag des Finanzjahres. The thirty-first of June is the last day of the financial year.
Adjectives formed from city names always end in “-er”, no matter what the number, gender, or case. They are also capitalized:  
das Münchner Bier Munich beer
der Mainzer Dom the Mainz Cathedral
die Berliner Modeschöpfer the Berlin fashion designers
also: Schweizer Schokolade Swiss chocolate
Adjectives that designate decades also end in “-er”:  
Brecht schrieb es in den zwanziger Jahren. Brecht wrote it in the 20’s.
Die fünfziger Jahre waren die Zeit des Wirtschaftswunders. The 50’s were the time of the “economic miracle.”
As famous as a brightly-colored dog. [colloquial phrase]
A few adjectives that end in “-a” take no endings:  
Sie trägt ein lila Kleid. She’s wearing a purple dress.
Sie trägt ein weißes Kleid mit rosa Schleifen. She’s wearing a white dress with pink bows.
Das war eine prima Idee! That was an excellent idea!
“genug” (enough), “super”, and “lauter” (unmixed, unalloyed) also take no endings:  
Es gibt genug Plätze hier. There are enough seats here.
Du hast ein super Auto gekauft! You’ve bought a fabulous car.
Das sind lauter Lügen. Those are nothing but lies.
When preceding the name of a country or city and meaning “all of,” “ganz” takes no endings:
In ganz Deutschland ist es so. That’s how it is in all of Germany.
Ganz Berlin feiert. All of Berlin is celebrating.
When “voll” means “full,” it takes the usual endings, but when it means “full of”, it becomes“voller”, with no further endings:
Ich übernehme die volle Verantwortung. I’ll take on the whole responsibility.
Er hatte einen Sack voller Geld. He had a bag full of money.
Ich war voller Tatendrang. I was full of a zest for action
Berlin is full of contrasts. That’s one of our greatest strengths.
When “viel” and “wenig” are not preceded by articles, they take no endings in the singular.
Wir haben es mit viel Fleiß gemacht. We did it with a lot of applied effort.
Er ist mit vielen Freunden gekommen. He came with a lot of friends.
Du brauchst wenig Hilfe. You don’t need much help.
Wenige Deutsche trinken gern amerikanischen Kaffee. Few Germans like to drink American coffee
(From Der Spiegel) A survey of 25,000 university graduates: why so many study the wrong thing.
Adjectival Nouns in English:
Because English adjectives are uninflected, it is more difficult to make nouns out of them. One can talk about certain abstract concepts like the True or the Good, but in most cases, at least “one,” “thing,” or something like “man,” “woman,” or “guy” is required to create a noun phrase: “He’s an odd one.” “Let’s drink a cold one” [a beer]. “Have a good one” [a nice day]. “I did the wrong thing.” “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” “I’m talking about the fat guy.” It can be a little easier in the plural: “The rich are different.” “For ye have the poor always with you.” Adjectival Nouns in German: Because German adjective endings carry considerable information about case, gender, and number, the noun that they modify can sometimes seem redundant. When Germans refer to Ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl as der Dicke, they don’t need a further noun, since the der, followed by the -e ending on dick tells us that we are dealing with a single masculine subject (in the nominative case). So long as the context is clear, all that’s needed to make the noun is to capitalize the first letter. A number of such nouns constructed in this fashion have become conventional enough to be listed as dictionary entries in their own right. Some adjectives that become such nouns are “bekannt” [= acquainted], “angestellt” [= employed, hired], “verwandt” [=related], “erwachsen” [= grown-up], “heilig” [= holy], and “deutsch” [= German]:
der Dicke
Sie ist eine gute Bekannte von mir. She is a good acquaintance of mine.
Er ist ein Angestellter dieser Firma. He is an employee of this company.
Meine Verwandten sind alle verrückt. My relatives are all crazy.
Nur Erwachsene dürfen diesen Film sehen. Only adults [grownups] are allowed to see this film.
Der Papst hat sie zur Heiligen erklärt. The Pope declared her a saint.
Die Deutschen sind gern pünktlich. Germans like to be punctual.
(Note that “German” is the only nationality designated by an adjectival noun.) Frequent usage has produced other conventions:
Ich möchte ein Helles. I’d like a light beer [a pils].
Und ich nehme ein Dunkles. And I’ll have a dark beer.
Heute fahren wir ins Blaue. Today we’re driving into the wild, blue yonder.
Er traf ins Schwarze. He hit the bull’s-eye.
Mein Alter geht mir auf den Wecker. My old man [my father] gets on my nerves.
Meine Alte versteht gar nichts. My old lady [my mother] doesn’t understand anything.
Your parents will puke!
Plural adjectives of color represent members of particular political parties: e.g., “die Grünen” = the Greens; “die Roten” = SPD orPDS. The examples above are all in the nominative case, but the adjectival inflections hold true in the accusative, dative, and genitive, as well. Here are examples of “the old man,” “the rich woman,” “the Good”, “the poor [poor people]”:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
 nom. der Alte die Reiche das Gute die Armen
* ein Alter eine Reiche * kein Gutes keine Armen
Alter Reiche Gutes Arme
 acc. den Alten die Reiche das Gute die Armen
einen Alten eine Reiche * ein Gutes keine Armen
Alten Reiche Gutes Arme
 dat. dem Alten der Reichen dem Guten den Armen
Altem Reicher Gutem Armen
 gen. des Alten der Reichen des Guten der Armen
Alten Reicher Guten Armer
  Some of the forms in the above chart may seem hard to work into the conversation, but they do exist. Note the following:
Es hat keinen Zweck, Altes mit Altem zu ersetzen. There’s no point in replacing old with old.
Something light can be so delicious …
They are more apt to show up in the vocative:
Du Armer! You poor fellow!
In the plural, however, there are some surprises, especially in the vocative:
Wir Grünen sind nicht so unrealistisch. We Greens are not so unrealistic.
Ihr beiden seid echte Profis. You both are real pros.
Germans also frequently say or write “ihr beide”, however. And, although “wir Grünen” and “ihr Grünen” are used more consistently, both “Sie Grünen” and “Sie Grüne” are possible. Go figure. Note that “beide” is not capitalized. The same is true for “andere”:
Wir beiden sind da, aber wo bleiben die anderen? We’re both here, but where are the others?
Hast du etwas anderes zu sagen? Do you have something else to say?
Ich komme mit den anderen. I’ll come with the others.
Diese Tasse ist schmutzig. Ich hole eine andere. This cup is dirty. I’ll fetch a different one.
The adjective may also be in lowercase when the impression is less of an adjective used as a noun than of a noun having been omitted:
Sie hat einen Weißwein bestellt, aber ich nehme einen roten.
She ordered a white wine, but I’ll take a red.
Es gibt wenig gute Schriftsteller, aber er gehört zu den besten.
There are few good writers, but he belongs to the best.
Compare this last example to the following:
Only the best stay calm in difficult situations
Friedrich der Große
August der Starke
  Certain forms appear in apposition:
Friedrich der Große war König von Preußen.
Frederick the Great was the King of Prussia.
Kennst du August den Starken?
Do you know August the Strong?
Der Kaiser gab August dem Starken den Oberbefehl über die österreichischen Truppen.
The Emperor gave August the Strong command of the Austrian troops.
Sanssouci war das Sommerschloss Friedrichs des Großen.
Sanssouci was Frederick the Great’s summer palace.
A more common appositional structure is formed with the pronouns “etwas” or “nichts”
Ich will dir etwas Schönes zeigen. I want to show you something beautiful.
Er führt nichts Gutes im Schilde. He’s up to no good.
Wir reden von etwas Einmaligem. We’re talking about something unique.
The adjectives “viel” and “wenig” sometimes look like pronouns, because they normally take no endings in the singular:
Wir haben wenig Interessantes zu berichten. We have little of interest to report.
Ihr Boss hat viel Gutes über Sie gesagt. Your boss said a lot of good things about you.
Seine Rede enthält wenig Wahres. His speech contains little that is true.
Ordinal numbers act the same way as other adjectives:
The best solution? Every second (person) has already found it. Berliner Sparkasse [Berlin Savings Bank]. Every second Berliner is already our customer. Demand more.
The possessive adjectives form nouns in the same way, except that they are not capitalized:
Ich sehe dein Fahrad, aber wo ist meins? Naja, ich fahre mit ihrem.
I see your bike, but where is mine? Oh well, I’ll take hers.
Er ist Deutscher, und ich bin auch einer.
He’s a German, and I’m one, too.
Sie ist eine Verwandte von mir, also bin ich eine von ihren.
She’s a relative of mine; thus I’m one of hers.
Es gibt mehrere reiche Länder in der Welt, und Deutschland ist eins von den reichsten.
There are several rich countries in the world, and Germany is one of the richest.
Especially when using adjectives that have been derived from present or past participles, it is possible to pack a great deal of information into the adjectival noun:
das Gefundene that which has been found
die Gestorbene the (female) deceased
ein Studierender someone (male) who is studying
ein Studierter someone (male) who has studied
die Betende the praying woman
der Alternde the aging man
das Werdende that which is in the process of becoming
der Auserwählte the chosen (male) one
das Unverhoffte the unexpected
die Leidtragende the (female) mourner

Extravagance is the one true thing
The nominative masculine and neuter and the accusative neuter are different when the article is an “ein-word.” The articles in this category are ein, kein, and the possessive pronouns: mein, dein, sein, ihr, unser, euer, Ihr, ihr The so-called “der-words” are the articles der, die, das, dies-, jed-, jen-, manch-, solch-, welch-.    ]]>

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