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How to learn German adjective endings?

What is the best way to learn and memorize German adjective endings?

Adjective endings are an important part of the German language. Adjectives describe nouns and they allow you to use more descriptive language. This will enhance both your writing and speaking. There are different adjective endings depending on the gender and case of the German noun. It may seem daunting at first but German is a very logical language and this grammar topic is no different, every rule has a reason. Practice makes perfect - Übung macht den Meister! As you use adjective endings more frequently they will become another reflex when writing and speaking in German.

There are a number of questions you can ask yourself when adding an adjective to describe a noun. Before we get into these let’s clarify what passes as an article, there are more than you think!

Firstly the definite and indefinite articles: der, die, das, den, dem and ein, eine, einen, einem, einer. Secondly possessive and negative adjectives are all articles: kein, mein, dein, sein, ihr, unser, euer and Ihr. Words such as “this”, “every”, “some”, “such”, “all” and “both” are all articles in German: dieser, diese, dieses, diesen, diesem and jeder, jede, jedes, jeden, jedem and mancher, manche, manches, manchen, manchem and solcher, solche, solches, solchen, solchem and alle and beide. The final word that passes as an article is the question word “which”: welcher, welche, welches, welchen, welchem. The following words are NOT an article: viele, einige, mehrere, and wenige. Be extremely careful with these words!

Now that we have defined what an article is we can move on to the questions that help to determine the adjective ending of a noun.

The best way to identify which adjective ending to use is to follow the 4 questions below.

Question 1: Do you use an article?

If your answer is yes then you can move onto the next question. However if the answer is no and use an article in front of your adjective then you use ending your article would have. Let me explain: To use the correct article ending, we always need to know the gender of our noun and if it is singular and plural. Once you have that you have to determine what case the noun is in. You use the ending of the article that fits both of these: the gender and case of the noun. Let me give some examples to clarify.


Question 2: Is your article in the standard form der, die, das?

If your answer to this question is yes, go to the next question. If your article is not in the standard form, you add -en to the end of the adjective. The standard, unchanged form is the nominative form with the following endings: -er, -es, -e, -e.


Question 3: Is your noun singular?

If your noun is singular go to the next question. If the answer is no and the noun is plural, then you add an -en to the end of the adjective.


Question 4: Does your article show the gender of the noun?

If the answer is no you add -er for masculine nouns and -es for neutral.



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