The British singer-songwriter, who has three top-five hits to his name, heads the field this year with four nominations, including best album.
He said that was the award that would mean the most to him, but he does not expect to win it.
Sheeran said: “I guess every artist would want to win the album one but I think Adele will win it because 21 is incredible”.
Sheeran, who said he was “amazed” to be nominated, has landed plenty of critical acclaim and airplay in the past year with singles such as The A Team and Lego House, as well as topping the album chart with his debut, entitled +.
Adele is likely to make her UK live comeback at the awards, three months after surgery to cure a voice-threatening condition.
The star underwent an operation in the US in early November after being diagnosed with a vocal cord haemorrhage which could have wrecked her singing voice forever.
But she has now been lined up to perform at next month’s event at the O2 Arena.