For many German students the difference between "am meisten" and "meistens" is unclear. In this post, I explain why the two should not be confused.
"Am meisten" is the superlative of the adjective "viel" (a lot, much). So "viel" is the original form of the adjective, "mehr" is its comparative, and "am meisten" is the superlative form and therefore translates as "the most". Let's look at some examples of how am meisten is used in a sentence.
Ich reise in viele Länder, aber Griechenland begeistert mich am meisten.
(I travel to many countries, but Greece fascinates me the most)
Das deutsche Wort "genau" wird am meisten verwendet.
(The German word "precisely" is the most widely used)
By contrast, "meistens" is an adverb of frequency and translates as "mostly" or "most of the time". Some examples of its use in a sentence would be:
Ich gehe gern aus, aber meistens bleibe ich zu Hause
(I like to go out, but most of the time I stay at home)
Dienstags besucht sie meistens ihren Deutschunterricht, aber manchmal muss sie lange arbeiten.
(On Tuesdays, she mostly attends her German lesson, but sometimes she has to work late)
So "am meisten" and "meistens might look like they could be used interchangeably but they are based on an important difference in German grammar- an adjective on the one hand, and adverb on the other.
On our German Language Blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!", you will find posts on the difference between sehr and viel, the German kennen vs. wissen, as well as besuchen vs. besichtigen, and we cure your German grammar phobia with our posts explaining adjective ending rules in German, and, the German cases.