Using Adjectives as Nouns

General Info

You can also use Adjectives and Participles as Nouns. Then they mostly stand for people or abstracts (things you can't touch). They are nouns, but you still must decline them like Adjectives. You usually omit the noun because it is obvious and/or common knowledge. The Adjective then becomes a noun and must be capitalized.

Example:

  • „Ein fremder Mann klingelt an der Tür.“ =  „Ein Fremder klingelt an der Tür.“
  • „Ein obdachloser Mensch schläft auf der Straße.“ = „Ein Obdachloser schläft auf der Straße.“

Comparison

Usually, the following applies: Article + Adjective/Participle + Noun

  • „Sandra hat schon wieder einen neuen Freund.“

When using Adjective/Participle as noun, remove the original noun (it must be obvious what we are talking about):

  • „Sandra hat schon wieder einen Neuen.“

„Freund“ is obvious here and can be omitted. The Adjective becomes a noun, and you must capitalize it. However, you still have to apply the Adjective Declension. Nouns such as „Mensch“ or „Frau“ are often omitted because we usually know who we are talking about.

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Common Examples

Adjective as Noun

Example:

  • „Die Deutschen arbeiten viel.“

Participles as Nouns

As described in lesson 4, you can use Participles as Adjectives. Accordingly, we can omit the Noun after them - if obvious - and use them as Nouns, like any other Adjective.

Example:

  • „Beim Flugzeugabsturz gab es keine Überlebenden.“ 

Example:

  • „Der Vermisste konnte noch nicht gefunden werden.

Attention:

All endings in the examples refer to the Nominative case. So you have to keep the Adjective Declension and you have to adjust the ending according to the noun you drop.

Summary

  • When you use Adjectives or Participles as Nouns, you usually omit the noun (normally „Mann“, „Frau“, „Mensch“) because it is obvious or universally known.
  • The Adjective remain in their Adjective Declension corresponding to the Article and Case.

Related Topics:

Other lessons on Adjectives include:

In order to use Adjective intensification, the Comparative and the Superlative correctly, you must also be familiar with Articles and the German cases:

You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar. 

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