How to use German Adjectives

Describing the German Adjectives

So, to make sure we’re all on the same page, adjectives are descriptive words like young, old, beautiful etc. In German, adjectives change their endings depending on whether the person or thing you are referring to is masculine, feminine or neuter and whether singular or plural. It also depends on the case of the person or thing you are describing and whether it’s preceded by the definite or indefinite article. Sound confusing? don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds and if you get it wrong, you will still be understood.

German adjectives come before the noun they describe but when used with a verb it’s placed after the verb.

For example:
Die alte Frau (the old lady) ⇨ the adjective alte is before the noun Frau

Du bist schön. (You are beautiful.) ⇨ the adjective schön is after the verb


Adjectives used after the definite article: der, die and das:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine -e -en -en -en
Feminine -e -e -en -en
Neutral -e -e -en -en
Plural (all genders) -en -en -en -en

Example sentences:

Nominative: Der junge Hund hat Hunger. (The young dog is hungry.)

Accusative: Ich habe die junge Katze gefüttert. (I’ve fed the young cat.)

Dative: Er hilft dem jungen Kind beim Anziehen. (He helps the young child to get dressed.)

Genitive: Der Hund des jungen Mannes ist sehr krank. (The dog of the young man is very ill.)


Adjectives used after the indefinite article: ein and kein:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine -er -en -en -en
Feminine -e -e -en -en
Neutral -es -es -en -en
Plural (all genders) -en -en -en -en

Example sentences:

Nominative: Eine alte Frau läuft über die Straße. (An old lady crosses the street.)

Accusative: Ich habe einen alten Hund. (I’ve got an old dog.)

Dative: In einem alten Haus kann es sehr kalt sein. (It can be very cold in an old house.)

Genitive: Die Geheimnise einer alten Frau… (The secrets of an old lady…)


Adjectives used, when there is no article before the noun:

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive
Masculine -er -en -em -en
Feminine -e -e -er -er
Neutral -es -es -em -en
Plural (all genders) -e -e -en -er

Example sentences:

Nominative: Gute Freunde sind wichtig. (Good friends are important.)

Accusative: Ich trinke gerne guten Wein. (I like drinking good wine.)

Dative: Zu gutem Wein esse ich gerne Käse. (I like eating cheese with good wine.)

Genitive: Die Hilfe guter Menschen ist wichtig. (The help of good people is important.)

Study and practice the above examples on a regular basis. At first you will get it wrong from time to time but that is OK. Learning from mistakes is one of the fastest ways to learn. However, as you get more confident, you will start to instinctively know the correct way to use an adjective in any German sentence.

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