2

In the sentence

Sie gefallen mir immer besser

the phrase immer besser obviously means better and better (i.e. increasingly better), but can it also mean even better (now) (i.e. better than before)?

8
  • Welcome to German SE. You might want to have a look at (jetzt) noch besser as well. Mar 22 at 21:36
  • 1
    This is a board about German language but you are asking a question about English language which is off-topic here. (You have to know English to be able to answer this question.) Mar 23 at 8:06
  • 3
    @HubertSchölnast No, the original heading might be misleading, but the question is clearly only about the meaning of immer besser. The question is in English, but it doesn't require more knowledge of it to answer than to read it which is in line with the guidelines. It requires knowledge of German, however. If you translate the question to German, you simply get Kann 'immer besser' auch '(jetzt) noch besser' bedeuten? Mar 23 at 9:42
  • 1
    @HubertSchölnast If you look at the explanation text of the closing reason, you'll see it doesn't apply to this question because it is neither about an English phrase nor asks about a translation, but about understanding. Mar 23 at 9:46
  • 1
    Sorry for not having been clear enough when asking the question, but for the avoidance of doubt, I wanted to know what a native German speaker / writer intend to express when using the phrase, namely "better and better" (increasingly better) or "even better" (better than before) - or maybe the phrase may express both intentions?
    – Valpen
    Mar 23 at 15:36
4

It's right that immer besser means better and better. It puts the emphasis on the incremental increase. Even better (now) would primarily be expressed by the phrase (jetzt) noch besser.

A native speaker would keep these two apart in deliberate speech and use the first to express the one thing and the latter to express the other. In this regard, immer besser is not used to express even better.


Having said that: From a logical point of view, immer besser implies better than before, but, unlike noch besser, it does not convey that it already has been good before. That aspect is added by the word noch ('even'). So immer besser does mean better, but not even better. Personally, I would say on the contrary immer besser has somewhat a connotation that it wasn't that good before.

There is no fixed phrase combining noch besser and immer besser, that would be like

Sie gefielen mir vorher schon gut und gefallen mir jetzt immer besser.

Caveat: immer noch besser means still better than, so something entirely different.

In a quick research, I've found twofold evidence from the internet where noch besser and immer besser (und besser) were combined:

Die Sopranistin Anna Netrebko wird immer noch besser und besser. (sueddeutsche.de, 4. August 2019)

Man könnte glatt Mitleid kriegen mit Sandy Kominsky, wäre er nicht derart viele seiner 74 Jahre vor Kraft und Ego fast geplatzt! Vor allem aber: würde dieses fiktionale Prachtstück eines durch und durch destruktiven Geschlechts nicht von einem Darsteller verkörpert, der im Alter nur immer und immer noch besser und besser wird. (dwdl.de, 16. November 2018)

This might give you an impression of those being two different concepts that must be expressed individually.

1
  • A great answer. Thank you!
    – Valpen
    Mar 24 at 20:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.