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Most people that study German learn about "stem-changing VERBs (z.B. singen, sang, gesungen).

I don't come across them often, but there appear to be stem-changing adjectives, as well. Example: Gross= great. But Friedrich der Grösse.

Are there "classes" of such adjectives (e.g. for words with a, o, or u)? Or a handful of individual cases? Or am I seeing something that doesn't actually exist?

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It's "Friedrich der Große". – Baarn Jul 30 '11 at 18:51
It is Friedrich der Große, not der Größe. However, you say größer (greater). – Hendrik Vogt Jul 30 '11 at 18:51
So the stem change is in the COMPARATIVE of adjectives (e.g lang, länger, usw.) – Tom Au Jul 30 '11 at 18:55
@Tom: Yes, that's right. Maybe it's best if you edit your question accordingly. – Hendrik Vogt Jul 30 '11 at 19:17
In groß vs. größer the vowel is substituted by an umlaut. A change in the stem would require an ablaut, as in singen vs. gesungen. Compare ablaut vs. umlaut. – annalphabetin Jul 31 '11 at 11:02
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I started a list, but I'm not sure it it's finished:

  • alt - älter - am ältesten [english: old]
  • arm - ärmer - am ärmsten [english: poor]
  • groß - größer - am größten [english: huge]
  • jung - jünger - am jüngsten [english: young]
  • kalt - kälter - am kältesten [english: cold]
  • klug - klüger - am klügsteen [english: smart]
  • kurz - kürzer - am kürzesten [english: short]
  • lang - länger - am längsten [english: long]
  • dumm - dümmer - am dümmsten [english: stupid]
  • gesund - gesünder - am gesündesten [english: healthy]
  • grob - gröber - am gröbsten [english: crude]
  • hart - härter - am härtesten [english: hard]
  • krank - kränker - am kränkesten [english: sick]
  • rot - röter - am rötesten [english: red]
  • scharf - schärfer - am schärfsten [english: spicy/hot]
  • stark - stärker - am stärksten [english: strong]
  • schwach - schwächer - am schwächsten [english: weak]
  • warm - wärmer - am wärmsten [english: warm]

  • dunkel - dunkler - am dunkelsten [english: dark]
  • edel - edler - am edelsten [english: noble]
  • gern - lieber - am liebsten [english: gladly]
  • gut - besser - am besten [english: good]
  • hoch - höher - am höchsten [english: high]
  • nah - näher - am nächsten [english: near]
  • teuer - teurer - am teuersten [english: expensive]
  • viel / sehr - mehr - am meisten [english: very]

You see, in the first list it's often a change from vocal to a "umlaut" (ä,ü,ö) The 2nd list is totally irregular.

Hope this helps

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Here is a "compendium" of answers given by others (mainly in comments).

Adjectives sometimes do change the vowel in the stem in the comparative or superlative forms. e.g. groß — größer — am größten [English: big].

They don't change the stem between masculine, feminine, and neuter forms.

So groß and Friedrich der Größe was a wrong example.

But it led to a correct one.

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