Adjective Endings in German

Adjective endings in German are not easy. I remember when I started learning German, I was so confused by all of the different endings not only based on the cases in German, but also because of German noun genders. I would like to make German adjective endings easier for you.

Something important that you have to consider when working with cases in German is noun gender. And just like with cases, it is a very hated subject. If you struggle with grammatical gender in German I suggest that you read my post about genders in German before you continue on your journey of understanding cases in German.

Now, let us start with the real part of the post, namely, German adjectives. If you are not familiar with the concept of adjectives, here is a quick summary: it is the words that describe nouns. For example, in the clause “red bicycle”, “bicycle” is the noun and “red” is the adjective that tells us more about the noun. But apart from these “normal” adjectives, we also get possessive adjectives. These are possessive pronouns that are used to say that the noun is owned by a specific person. I will start by explaining how possessive adjectives work in German and then proceed to adjective endings and their changes.

Possesive Adjectives in German

So the good thing about these adjectives is that the endings they take are the same as the endings that indefinite German articles take. If you are not sure what I am talking about, you should read my post about German articles.

Before I go on to the endings I guess that I should first list the possessive adjectives that there is:

DeutschEnglish
meinmy
deinyour (informal, singular)
Ihryour (formal, singular or plural)
seinhis or its
ihrher or their
unserour
eueryour (informal, plural)

German Adjective Endings

Now, before we go on it is important to know that adjectives can either be before or after the noun they describe. If they appear after the noun, they are predicative adjectives. On the other hand, if they are before the noun they are attributive adjectives and these are the ones we are concerned with. The reason for this is that when they are after the noun, their endings do not change. However, in the case that they precede the noun, their endings change.

Adjective Changes When There is No Article

Depending on whether the noun in question is preceded by an article or not, the change of the article’s ending also changes. Let’s start with when there is no article. In this case, the following table applies:

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative-er-e-es-e
Accusative-en-e-es-e
Dative-em-er-em-en
Genitive-en-er-en-er

Assembling the Sentence

Let me give you an example of how you will apply this. Say we want to say “She has tasty cheese” in German. “She” is “sie” in German. “Has” is “haben”, but as “she” is a singular noun, we will be using the word “hat”. If you do not understand this conjugation, read my post about German conjugation. Next is “tasty” which has many German translations, but the one that we will be using is “lecker”. Lastly “cheese” is “Käse” in German and remember that all nouns in German have a capital letter at the start. If you want to know why German nouns are Capitalized, read this post about my opinion on the matter.

Now for adding the end to the adjective. First, you have to determine the Gender of the object (“Käse”). In this case, it is masculine. Then you have to figure out in which case it will be. Here it will be in the accusative. If you are uncertain about how I determined the German case in which the object is, you should read my post about that.

The combination of the above information can now be used the determine the ending of the adjective by looking at the above German articles chart. In this case, we will use “-en”. Now you just stick it all together, if you do not understand the sentence structure that I used, refer to this post about the structure of simple German sentences.

Sie hat leckeren Käse.

She has tasty cheese.

Adjective Changes when Preceded by Indefinite Articles

When the noun that the adjective describes has an indefinite article before it, the next table is applicable:

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative-er-e-es-en
Accusative-en-e-es-en
Dative-en-en-en-en
Genitive-en-en-en-en

The way in which you decide which ending to use is the same as when there is no article. You just use a different table.

Adjective Changes when Preceeded by Definite Articles

Like with when an indefinite article is used, articles describing nouns with definite articles have different endings.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative-e-e-e-en
Accusative-en-e-e-en
Dative-en-en-en-en
Genitive-en-en-en-en

Memorizing German Adjective Endings

Now you might say that it is quite hard memorizing all of these tables. The good news is that there is a shortcut to remembering them. Take a look at the following German adjective changes chart:

German adjective changes chart.

You might have noticed that I colored some blocks of the preceded adjectives tables. The reason is that all of the changes outside of these colored ones are -en. This means that you only have to learn the few inside the colored blocks. In the case of the ones preceded by a definite article all of the endings in the colored blocks are -e.

I hope that this post helped you to understand german adjective ending changes a bit better. Let me know if you have any questions.

xoxo,
Charlé

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