Adjectives in German

What are Adjectives?

  • Adjectives are proper nouns and are also called "words of choice".
  • They assign properties to people and things, so they show what someone or something is like.
  • You can ask for them with „Wie?“.
  • Adjectives can be increased for comparisons.
  • Adjectives can come after or before the Noun.

Example:

Was ist ein Adjektiv

Do we have to worry about Adjective Endings?

Short Answer: Yes, but not always!

When an adjective comes before the noun it describes, you have to change its ending.

This means: The adjective gets an ending.


Examples:

  • "Der junge Mann lernt Deutsch." // "The young man learns German."
    (The adjective "jung" comes before the noun "Mann" ⇒ Adjective Declension)
  • But: "Der Mann ist jung." // "The man is young."
    (There is no noun after "jung" ⇒ No Adjective Declension)

Useless technical terms:

In this section, I explain technical terms that your German teacher might use. You won't find them in my explanations, though, because they don't add any value and only make everything more complicated than it really is.

Attributive use of Adjectives

The adjective comes before the noun and must be declined ⇒ Adjective declension

  • Das ist ein großes Haus.

Predicative use of Adjectives

The adjective is part of the predicate and comes after the noun/verb. It is not declined. Only in combination with the verbs „sein“, „werden“, „bleiben“. Here, a state is always described. 

  • Das Haus ist groß.

Adverbial use of Adjectives

The adjective describes the verb more closely and stands behind the noun/verb. It is not declined. 

  • Der Lehrer spricht. // Wie spricht der Lehrer? // Der Lehrer spricht schnell.

In the following section you will get a short summary of all the topics related to adjectives. If you want more detailed explanations, watch the linked video and/or watch the entire lesson.

Adjective Declension

Adjektive - Adjektivdeklination

When adjectives are used before a noun, they must be declined. Adjective declension depends on the article that is before the adjective, the case, and of course the genus (masculine, feminine,...) of the noun.

Example: „Das ist ein schnelles Auto.“

To the Lesson: Adjective Declension

Comparison of Adjectives

Adjektivsteigerung

Adjectives are intensified when you want to compare something. To do this, form the comparative and the superlative. You can find the formation, usage, declension and many examples of intensification on this lesson.

Example: „Mein Auto ist schneller als dein Auto.“

To the LessonComparison of Adjective

The Participle as an Adjective

Partizip als Adjektiv

The present participle and the past participle are derived from the verb. While the present participle is always used as an adjective, you already know the past participle from the perfect, pluperfect and passive tenses, but the past participle can also be used as an adjective.

Example: „Das gebrauchte Auto ist hier.“

To the LessonThe Participle as Adjective

Participle & Adjective as Nouns

Adjektive als Nomen

Adjectives and participles can also be used as nouns. They then usually stand for persons or abstracts (things that cannot be touched). They are nouns, but they are declined like adjectives and therefore get an adjective ending.

Example: „Ein Fremder klingelt an der Tür.“

To the LessonAdjective as Nouns

Adjective Formation

Adjektivbildung

In German, prefixes (pronouns) and suffixes (endings) can be used to form new adjectives from many nouns and verbs. Unfortunately, there are no general rules, but here you can find examples and the use of the most common prefixes and endings for adjective formation.

Example: essen ⇒ essbar“ ⇒ Man kann es essen.

To the LessonAdjective Formation

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