German Adjective Endings


German has all the same adjective concepts that English does, yes … but how adjectives are used is very different, mainly because of tricky little adjective endings. When adding adjective endings, you must remember three things: case, number and gender. Get a quick refresher on German Cases before jumping into German adjective endings! Let's find out more below...

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Adjectives are words that modify a noun or pronoun by describing a characteristic (size, age, shape, color, feeling, or opinion). They can be placed before a noun or pronoun (attribute position) or after a noun (predicative position). When adjectives are in the predicative position, they do not have endings and are the same for any noun or pronoun, regardless of gender, case and number (singular or plural). 

Das Haus ist schön. The House is beautiful. (das Haus – singular, neutral noun)
Die Blumen sind schön. The flowers are beautiful. (die Blumen – plural, feminine noun)
Ich bin schön. I am beautiful. (I – subject/nominative pronoun)

The adjective “schön” remains unchanged, regardless of the gender, case and number of the noun or pronoun, as long as it is placed behind the noun/pronoun it characterizes (predicative position). 

Adjectives in the attributive position (for A2.2 students)
When adjectives are placed before the noun or pronoun, then we need to add endings depending on the gender, case and number of the noun or pronoun they modify. Adjectives that are preceded by German definite articles or “der” words (dieser, jeder, jener, etc) have weak adjective endings. There are only two possible weak endings: “-e” and “-en”

weak adjective endings

Der leckere Kuchen riecht gut.
The delicious cake smells good. (der Kuchen, singular masculine, nominative)

Die schönen Blumen riechen gut. 
The beautiful flowers smell good. (die Blumen, plural, feminine, nominative)

Adjectives that are preceded by German indefinite articlesor “ein” words (possessive articles, etc.)  have strong adjective endings.

strong adjective endings

Ich lese ein interessantes Buch. 
I am reading an interesting book. (das Buch, singular, neutral, accusative)

Wir pflücken die schönen Blumen. 
We are picking the beautiful flowers. (die Blumen, plural, feminine, accusative)

German Adjective endings are strong endings when they are not preceded by a determiner. This is often used in news articles, ads or job postings. 

strong unpreceded

Wohnung mit schönem Blick frei.  
Apartment with beautiful view available. (der Blick, singular, masculine, dative)

Haus mit grosser Terrasse frei. 
House with large patio available. (die Terasse, singular, feminine, dative)

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

CEFR Level A1

General Explanation:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.