München ist am schönsten / die schönste Stadt


New Member
Farsi - Iran
Hi. It's always been a big problem to understand when to use the preposition "am" and when to use the "definite article (der, die, das ...) before a superlative adjective in German. Somebody once told me that we must use "am" before a superlative adjective when there's no noun after that. For example:
Berlin, München und Dortmund sind Städte. München ist "am" schönsten.

On the other hand we use the definite article when we have a noun. For example:
Berlin ist "die" größte Stadt Deutschlands.

But somehow I saw something like this: Berlin ist am schönsten Stadt.

Perhaps this sentence "Berlin ist am schönsten Stadt" is wrong. I'm not sure.

Can you please help me to understand when to use "am" and when to use the "definite article"?
  • Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Am" as Preposition + article

    "Am" together with a noun
    is a preposition together with a male and shortened article. An der Stadt - at the city

    "Am" is short for "an dem", so it is a special kind of preposition which includes a definite article.
    Often you can exchange "Am" and "an dem".

    Berlin ist am schönsten Stadt.
    This is wrong - you do not need to test semantics here because it is syntactically wrong.
    You can very easily test it:

    Berlin ist an dem schönsten Stadt.:cross: Berlin is at the most beautiful town. (In English it seems to be syntactically correct but not idiomatic. Is this true?)

    an dem - male
    Stadt - female

    This does not fit together.

    "Am" as superlative marker

    "Am" together with an adjective is a superlative marker.

    am schönsten

    more beautiful
    most beautiful.

    If you used an adjective together with a noun you must not use "am":

    Berlin ist die schönste Stadt. (The adjective is declined and has a case marker, a number marker and a superlative marker)

    Berlin ist am schönsten. (If it is used as part of the predicat without a noun, you need "am" in the superlative. So basically you have the marker "am" and additionally "ste".)

    Edit: Improved the structure.


    German - Germany
    You cannot use "am" + superlative + noun but only "der/die/das" + superlative + noun.
    However, without a noun sometimes the definite article is possible as well (if the noun is omitted). For example
    "Berlin, München und Dortmund sind allesamt schöne Städte, aber Berlin ist die schönste."

    I think, the difference is the same as with the positive and the comparative. You can say

    Das ist die/eine schöne Stadt. (= This is the/a nice city.) vs. Die Stadt ist schön. (= The city is nice.)
    Das ist die/eine schönere Stadt) (= This is the/a nicer city.) vs. Die Stadt ist schöner. (= The city is nicer.)
    Das ist die schönste Stadt (= This is the nicest city.) vs. Die Stadt ist am schönsten. (= The city is the most beautiful.)

    I think the only reason why there is confusion is that other languages use "the" in both cases.

    The superlative is rarely used with an indefinite article because usually, there is a unique extremum. However, especially in maths, this sometimes occurs, e.g. ein kürzester Weg = a shortest path.
    Last edited:


    New Member
    Farsi - Iran
    Thank you guys. All of the answers were perfect and helpful and I get it now.
    I appreciate it.