Adjective endings/ inflections in German

More on adjectives 

Not long ago I wrote a blog about adjectives. This blog will also be about adjectives, but instead focus will be on German adjectives and their inflections. In German the adjective inflection depends on the case, number and gender as well as a determiner, if any.

Take this sentence for example:  The two black dogs live in a beautiful villa.

If we analyze the sentence then the black dog is our subject and it stands in Nominative case, live is our verb and in a beautiful house is ‘where they live ’ – here controlled by in+D. (In another blog post I’ll talk about prepositions and which case they take).

In order to make a correct sentence we need to know: the case, the gender of the noun and the number as well as which determiner stands before the noun. After a short analyze we can translate the sentence into German:

Adjectives: two(=zwei), black (=Schwarz, the +pl, Nom), beautiful (=schön, a +f, Dative)

Nouns:  the dogs (= Hund, pl+nom)  and a villa (=Villa, f+dative)

Verb: lived (wohnen,pl, present)

German: Die zwei schwarze Hunde wohnen in einer schönen Villa.

Below I’ve listed, which articles goes into which group as well as 3 tables showing the inflection/endings of the adjectives according to which article goes before the noun, if any.

Article-group (the/a/no article)

Der-Group (the)

  • der (definite article or demonstrative pronoun)
  • dieser
  • jeder
  • jener
  • aller
  • welcher
  • solcher
  • mancher
  • sämtlicher
  • beide (pl.)

Ein-Group (a)

  • ein
  • kein
  • mein
  • dein
  • sein
  • ihr
  • sein
  • unser
  • euer
  • ihr / Ihr

Definite article: der (the)

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative case der alte die alte das alte die alten
Accusative case den alten die alte das alte die alten
Dative case dem alten der alten dem alten den alten (*1)
Genitive case des alten (*2) der alten des alten (*2) der alten

Indefinite article: ein (a)

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative case ein alter eine alte ein altes (keine) alten(*3)
Accusative case einen alten eine alte ein altes (keine) alten(*3)
Dative case einem alten einer alten einem alten (keine) alten (*1, 3)
Genitive case eines alten(*2) einer alten einer alten(*2) (keiner) alten(*3)

 

No article

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative case alter alte altes alte
Accusative case alten alte altes alte
Dative case altem alter altem alten (*1)
Genitive case alten (*2) alter alten (*2) alter

More on dative and genitive

  • (*1) = In the dative plural, add an -n to the end of the noun, eg den kleinen Kindern
  • (*2) = In the genitive, add an -(e)s to the end of the noun, eg des alten Mannes
  • (*3) = kein/e/n is being used to show the plural because you can say ‘no shoes’ but not ‘a shoes’!
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3 comments

    1. Your are absolutely right regarding the declension table, when I studied in Germany, they worked after a different table. No matter which table you use, the result is the same, so it’s just a matter of what you learn or what you find easier.

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