Adjectives in German

What are Adjectives?

Adjectives are "describing words." They describe people and things, giving extra information about them.

We use the question word "Wie?" to ask for adjectives.

Example:

Was ist ein Adjektiv

Do we have to worry about adjective endings?

Short Answer: YES, sometimes!

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

This process of changing a word is called declension.


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)

Adjective Endings

Adjektive - Adjektivdeklination

When an adjective comes before the noun, it's ending has to be changed (that is called declining the adjective). The new ending is determined by the article, case, and gender of the noun its describing. 

Example: „Das ist ein schnelles Auto.“

Comparison Forms of Adjectives

Adjektivsteigerung

We can use adjectives to make comparisons between nouns: something is faster, slower, better, worse, etc. than something else, or maybe it's the fastest , slowest, best, or worst of everything else. This page will teach you how to construct and use these forms.

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

Using Participles as Adjectives

Partizip als Adjektiv

We can change verbs into their present participle or past participle forms and use them as adjectives. This is done to describe what something has done or had done to it in a way that's quicker and more natural than explaining it with an phrase or sentence.

Example: „Das gebrauchte Auto ist hier.“

Using Adjectives as Nouns

Adjektive als Nomen

Adjectives and participles can also be used as nouns. They are usually used to describe people or abstract ideas. They are really nouns, but we change their endings like adjectives.

Example: „Ein Fremder klingelt an der Tür.“

Creating New Adjectives in German

Adjektivbildung

In German you can create a lot of adjectives by adding prefixes or suffixes to nouns and verbs you already know. Unfortunately there aren't any general rules, but on this page I share some of the most common prefixes and suffixes, along with some examples.

Example: essen ⇒ essbar ⇒ You can eat it (it's edible).