Adjectives in German

Adjectives are words used to describe nouns. You can use adjectives to add more detail to what you want to say, like the colour or size of something or what someone’s personality is like.

Nouns are people, places and things. All German nouns start with a capital letter.

Take a look at the table below for some useful adjectives:

GermanEnglish
lustigfunny
nettnice
freundlichfriendly
sympathischkind
lautloud
ruhigquiet
faullazy
intelligentintelligent
sportlichsporty
kreativcreative
strengstrict
fleißig hardworking

You can put an adjective after a noun in a sentence using the verb sein (to be).

  • Der Hund ist braun - The dog is brown.
  • Die Frau ist intelligent - The woman is intelligent.
  • Das Mädchen ist sportlich - The girl is sporty.

Adjective endings

If you want to use an adjective before a noun, like the black cat, you need to add an ending to the adjective. The adjective ending depends on whether the noun you are describing is in the nominative or accusative case. You also have to pay attention to the gender, number and whether the article is definite (der, die, das) or indefinite (ein, eine, ein).

Nominative case

The nominative case is used when the noun is the subject of the sentence. This means the noun is doing the action (indicated by the verb) in the sentence.

Der Mann macht ein Sandwich - The man makes a sandwich.

Here, the man is performing the action. He is making the sandwich, so der Mann is the subject in this sentence and is in the nominative case.

Look at the tables below for adjective endings in the nominative case.

Definite article (der, die, das)

GenderEndingExample
masculine (der)-eder alte Mann - the old man
feminine (die)-edie alte Frau - the old woman
neuter (das)-edas alte Haus - the old house
plural (die)-endie alten Gebäude - the old buildings

Indefinite article (ein, eine, ein)

GenderEndingExample
masculine (ein)-erein alter Mann - an old man
feminine (eine)-eeine alte Frau - an old woman
neuter (ein)-esein altes Haus - an old house

Accusative case

The accusative case is used when the noun is the object of the sentence.

Der Mann macht ein Sandwich - The man makes a sandwich.

Here, the sandwich is having the action done to it. It is being made, so ein Sandwich is the direct object in the sentence and is in the accusative case.

Look at the tables below for adjective endings in the accusative case.

Definite article (den, die, das)

Watch out! The masculine der becomes den in the accusative case.

GenderEndingExample
masculine (den)-enIch sehe den braunen Hund - I see the brown dog.
feminine (die)-eIch sehe die braune Katze - I see the brown cat.
neuter (das)-eIch sehe das braune Kaninchen - I see the brown rabbit.
plural (die)-enIch sehe die braunen Pferde - I see the brown horses.

Indefinite article (einen, eine, ein)

Watch out! The masculine ein becomes einen in the accusative case.

GenderEndingExample
masculine (einen)-enIch sehe einen braunen Hund - I see a brown dog.
feminine (eine)-eIch sehe eine braune Katze - I see a brown cat.
neuter (ein)-esIch sehe ein braunes Kaninchen - I see a brown rabbit.

Comparative adjectives

You can also use adjectives to compare two things. To do this, you need to use comparative adjectives. As is often the case in English, in German most adjectives just add -er on the end!

  • Meine Mutter ist strenger als mein Vater - My mother is stricter than my father.
  • Mein Bruder ist lustiger als meine Schwester - My brother is funnier than my sister.

There are some exceptions as some adjectives also add an umlaut when used in their comparative form.

  • Mein Opa ist größer als meine Oma - My grandad is taller than my granny.
  • Mein Vater ist älter als meine Mutter - My father is older than my mother.

Quiz

Find out how much you know about adjectives in this short quiz!

Translate the sentences into German.

Where next?

Discover more from around Bitesize.

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How to use genders and articles in German
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