German Adjectives Overview

Maybe you started off learning German nouns … and then some verbs … and now you’re ready to tackle adjectives so you can describe those nouns you know!

As in English, adjectives in German can stand alone: ‘The man is tall’. Or they come right in front of the noun they are describing: ‘I have a black cat.’ 

Just like in English, German adjectives have 3 degrees: tall, taller, tallest. And, of course, there are German equivalents for the possessive adjectives my, your, his, her, its, our and their.

But that’s where the commonalities end. 

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 (i.e. declensions) you frequently have to use as part of the overarching German Case System.

Many students find adjective endings (and how they so often impact adjective-usage) to be the most difficult aspect of German to master. But that’s probably because they’re being taught the hard way! 

Thankfully, there is a smarter way to learn All Things Adjective. Ready, set, here we go!

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Written by Laura Bennett
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Adjective Endings

It’s very easy to create sentences such as ‘The man is tall’.

It’s the same basic pattern of (Noun) + (Adjective). We can supply different adjectives (in their base, positive degree, predicate form with no adjective endings) until the cows come home:

Der Mann ist groß (tall).
Der Mann ist reich (rich).
Der Mann ist dünn (thin).

But when adjectives come in front of the nouns, we have to put on one of 5 possible adjective endings: -m, -n, -r, -e, -s. And most German learners find this difficult at first.

Der große Mann heißt Tom. (The tall man is named Tom).
Ich kenne einen reichen Mann. (I know a rich man).
Ich gebe dem dünnen Mann was zu essen. (I give the thin man something to eat).

The trouble is, you have to pick the right adjective ending that correctly reflects the gender & case of the following noun AND that properly lines up with 1 of 4 adjective ending patterns.

Sounds a bit intense, right?

The good news: you can learn adjective endings smarter, not harder. And I can teach you how!

Read the Adjective Endings Guide here.

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are those vital, common words my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. If you counted how many time a day you use these words in English, I’m guessing you’d be impressed.

So, suffice it to say, these are important German words to know — you’ll get a lot of mileage out of them. 🙂

You might be bummed to learn that possessive adjectives always take adjective endings — the bane of most German students’ existence!

One of the many problems with how German learners usually learn possessive adjectives is that they’re learning them by the wrong name, which muddles up the facts on when & how German possessive ‘adjectives’ take which adjective endings.

I can teach you what possessive adjectives really are, why it matters, and how to know exactly (and easily!) which adjective ending you need on them when!

Read the Possessive Adjectives Guide here.

Comparative and Superlative Forms

When working with adjectives, sometimes you don’t just want to say that something is fast or slow, you want to say that it’s faster or slower or even the fastest or slowest, right?

Well, those are the comparative & superlative adjective form (or degrees) and … wait for it … are actually one grammar topic that is arguably a little bit easier in German than in English! Now, that doesn’t happen every day!

Sure, you still have to contend with learning the new forms (+er for the comparative and +st- for the superlative) and you frequently have to plug them into the Case System, too, with adjective endings … But you can handle that! I’ll show you how. 🙂

Read the Comparative and Superlative Forms Guide here.

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