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Sentences with je... desto... and je... umso...

In English, we would say "the more you practice, the better you will speak German." In German, these types of parallel comparatives are called Proportionalsätze, and are constructed as follows:

 

Je + comparative adjective (phrase)desto or umso + comparative adjective (phrase).

 

Take a look at the examples below, paying special attention to the positions of the adjectives (or the words mehr or weniger) and the verbs in both clauses. 

 

Und je positiver das ausfällt, desto motivierender.
And the more positive that is, the more motivational.
Caption 65, Gamification: Wie Spielen den Alltag interessanter macht

 

Je niedriger die Regionalklasse, desto günstiger wirkt sich das auf den Versicherungsbeitrag aus.    
The lower the regional classification, the cheaper it makes the insurance payment.    
Caption 10-11, Kfz-Versicherung: Was ist die Regionalklasse?

 

Denn je kälter es wird, desto weniger Zeit dürfen sie draußen sein.
Because the colder it gets, the less time they're allowed to be outside.
Caption 4, Im Zoo: Tiere im Winter

 

Je mehr Energie ich spare, desto weniger muss ich auch jagen. So einfach ist das.    
The more energy I save, the less I have to hunt. It's that simple.    
Caption 17, Für Tierfreunde: Geparden

 

Ja, und je braver wir zum Hund sind, desto mehr macht er, was er will.
Yes, and the nicer we are to the dog, the more he does just what he wants.
Caption 25, Haustiere als Geschenk?: Vier Pfoten unterm Weihnachtsbaum

 

Often, you will see the word umso rather than desto

 

Aber je mehr uns davon gelingt, umso besser.
But the more it succeeds for us, the better.    
Caption 31, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat 

 

Je eleganter man wirkt, umso mehr wird man auch anerkannt... gesellschaftlich, beruflich...
The more elegant one appears, the more one is also accepted... socially, professionally...    
Caption 42, Auf dem Laufsteg: Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

 

Further Learning
Based on the structures you see above, make up your own sentences with je and desto umso. If you need some comparative adjectives to get you started, you can find a few helpful tables on this page. You can also visit Yabla German and look for further examples.

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives express a higher degree of a particular quality, whereas superlative adjectives express the highest degree. In order to create comparative adjectives in English, we add "-er" to the end of shorter adjectives (such as "cheaper") or add “more” in front of longer adjectives (“more expensive”). In German, -er is added to all adjectives regardless of how many syllables they have. Mehr is never used for this purpose. 

 

„Nichts leichter als das", antwortete Frederick.
"Nothing's easier than that!" answered Frederick.    
Caption 4, Piggeldy und Frederick: Arm

 

Aber was noch viel wichtiger ist als der Saft zum Frühstück, ist natürlich der Kaffee.
But what's far more important for breakfast than juice is, of course, coffee.
Caption 14, Jenny beim Frühstück: Teil 1

 

Superlative adjectives in English either have "-est" at the end or are preceded by the adjective “most” ("cheapest," "the most expensive"). In German, the suffix -ste or -sten is used, depending on the declension. Take note: Putting meist in front of an adjective will give it a fully different meaning (similar to "mostly"). 

 

Das ist das schönste Gefühl auf der Welt.
That is the most beautiful feeling in the world.
Caption 66, Kinotipp: Kokowääh

 

Am einfachsten ist es bei Papier und Pappe.
It is easiest with paper and cardboard.    
Caption 11, Eva erklärt: Mülltrennung 

 

Jeden Tag trug die Prinzessin die schönsten Gewänder und den teuersten Schmuck.
Every day the Princess wore the most beautiful garments and the most expensive jewelry.
Caption 7-8, Märchen - Sagenhaft: König Drosselbart

 

Further Learning
When you learn a new adjective on Yabla German, take a moment to learn its comparative and superlative forms. Keep in mind that there are irregular forms where a slight spelling change (such as an umlaut) is required. Take a look at this table for some examples.

Better and better

In last week's newsletter, we looked at the various ways of expressing the adverb "even" in German. We shouldn't forget that adverbs not only describe verbs, but adjectives as well. In this case, "even" is expressed with "noch":

 

Und mit ein bisschen Unterstützung der Teamkollegen klappt's vielleicht noch besser.
And with a little support from the team members it might work out even better.
Caption 11, Fußball: Torwandschießen

 

In English we say something is "even better" or that it is getting "better and better." The latter exists in German as well and is often constructed with the verb werden, the word immer, and a comparative adjective. 

 

Man wird ja immer besser durch die Übung.
You do get better and better through practice. 
Caption 26, Singer-Songwriter: Sebastian Niklaus

 

As you can see, this construction can be used with most adjectives: 

 

Sie wird im Spiegel immer kleiner
It gets smaller and smaller in the mirror
Caption 85, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott: Musik sein

 

Und deshalb wird es auch immer wichtiger werden, dieses auch in Zukunft zu verstärken.
And therefore it is going to become more and more important to also emphasize this in the future.
Caption 35-36, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat 

 

Sie ist durch die Erweiterung des Flughafens natürlich immer komplexer geworden.
It's become more and more complex through the expansion of the airport, of course.
Caption 35-36, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister: Pläne für 2014

 

However, make sure to take context of the sentence and the presence or absence of werden into account. The sentence below shows that immer can be combined with an adjective and still just mean "always."

 

Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.
It's always better if you travel together.
Caption 20, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

 

Further Learning
Based on the tips above, how would you translate the phrase immer wieder? Do a search on Yabla German!

The word scharf

In English, the word "sharp" has a few different meanings. We can use it to describe the blade of a knife, but we can also say that someone is a "sharp dresser." The German word scharf also has a range of meanings beyond "sharp-edged."

 

One very common translation of scharf that you may already know is "spicy."

 

Wenn ihr es nicht ganz so scharf mögt, dann könnt ihr diese kleinen Chilischotenkerne entfernen.
If you don't like it quite so spicy, then you can remove these little chili seeds.
Caption 52-53, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

 

Das Gemisch, das auf Stufe zehn kommt, ist die schärfste Chilisoße der Welt.
The mixture that makes it to level ten is the spiciest chili sauce in the world.
Caption 21, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück

 

Scharf can also be used as an adjective or adverb to mean "sleek" or "attractive." In this sentence, it's used to describe the design of a car:

 

Von der Spitze bis zum Heckspoiler ist er richtig schön scharf gezeichnet.
From the front end to the rear spoiler, it's really sharply designed.
Caption 4, AUTO BILD TV: Tops & Flops der IAA 

 

Finally, scharf is also used to describe images in terms of whether they are in focus or not:

 

Und dann... die Bilder, die scharf waren, da war wieder der Ausdruck nicht so, wie ich's gerne hätte.
And then... the pictures that were in focus, there again the expression wasn't how I'd like to have it.
Caption 34, Lokalhelden: Art House

 

Further Learning
Watch the currywurst video above in its entirety on Yabla German for more examples of the word in use. Make sentences with the word scharf, integrating the correct endings based on gender (eine scharfe Suppe, ein scharfes Gewürz), and then try some sentences with the comparative and superlative form (schärfer, schärfste).

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