Adjectives (Describing Words)

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Adjectives (Describing Words)

Possessive adjectives are words such as 'my', 'your', 'his', etc. which tell you to whom an object belongs. In the same way that the words for 'a' change according to which case the noun is in (what the noun is doing in the sentence), so the endings for these words also change.

This is what the possessive adjectives are in German:

my mein
your (singular) dein
his, its sein
her ihr
our unser
your (plural) euer
their ihr
your (polite) ihr

The endings change like the endings for 'ein' and 'kein':

  Masculine: Feminine: Neuter: Plural:
Nominative: mein meine mein meine
Accusative: meinen meine mein meine
Genitive: meines meiner meines meiner
Dative: meinem meiner meinem meinen

Try these sentences. Type in the correct form of the word that is given in brackets:

For Example: Unsere Deutschlehrerin heisst Frau Schmidt. (unser)

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Adjectives are describing words such as good, bad, ugly, etc. If the adjective is not immediately in front of the noun then you don't have to do anything to it.

For Example: Der Mann ist alt. Die Schuhe sind schwarz.

However, if an adjective is used before a noun, for example, 'the old man', then the adjective changes its ending depending on the word before it ('the', 'a', 'my', etc.).

The old man = der alte Mann

An old man = ein alter Mann

Use this table if the word before the adjective is der, die, das, etc:

  Masculine: Feminine: Neuter: Plural:
Nominative: der alte Mann die alte Frau das alte Buch die alten Schuhe
Accusative: den alten Mann die alte Frau das alte Buch die alten Schuhe
Genitive: des alten Mannes der alten Frau des alten Buches der alten Schuhev
Dative: dem alten Mann der alten Frau dem alten Buch den alten Schuhen

Use this table if the word before the adjective is ein, mein, sein, ihr etc:

  Masculine: Feminine: Neuter: Plural:
Nominative: ein alter Mann eine alte Frau ein altes Buch meine alten Schuhe
Accusative: einen alten Mann eine alte Frau ein altes Buch meine alten Schuhe
Genitive: eines alten Mannes einer alten Frau eines alten Buches meiner alten Schuhe
Dative: einem alten Mann einer alten Frau einem alten Buch meinen alten Schuhen

Try these sentences. Read the sentence and decide what case the noun is in. The gender is given to you to make it easier. Type in the correct adjective ending:

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In talking about things, we often want to compare them with others.

For Example:This chair is bigger than that chair.

To form a comparative adjective in German you add '-er' to the adjective and on many one-syllable adjectives, you add an umlaut too.

For Example: klein = kleiner; warm = wärmer.

In German, you use 'als' for 'than'.

For Example:Peter is shorter than Paul = Peter ist kleiner als Paul.

There are a few exceptions:

gut = besser

gern = lieber

hoch = höher

viel = mehr

Like all adjectives, comparatives can be used either before a noun or separately from the noun.

  1. Before a noun:

    A comparative will take ordinary adjective endings.

    For Example:

    Mein älterer Bruder heisst Martin.

    Ich trage einen ängeren Rock.

    Der jüngere Mann sitzt hier.

  2. Separately from a noun:

    You don't need an adjective ending here.

    For Example:

    England ist kälter als Spanien.

    Siegfried ist älter als Karl.

If you want to say 'the best', 'the fastest', 'the most intelligent', etc. you use the superlative of the adjective. To form this, you add '-est' or '-st' to the adjective. Like comparatives, an umlaut is added to one-syllable adjectives.

  1. Before a noun:

    You will need to add the adjective endings to the superlative.

    For Example:

    das älteste Haus.

    meine jüngste Schwester.

  2. Separately from a noun:

    The superlative has a special form. You use 'am' before the superlative and then add '-esten' or '-sten' to the adjective. As before, you add an umlaut to one-syllable adjectives. This sounds worse than it really is!

    For Example:

    kalt = am kältesten (the coldest)

    schön = am schönsten (the prettiest)

Exceptions are:

Gut = am besten

Gern = am liebsten

Hoch = am höchsten

Viel = am meisten.

It's best to learn Comparatives and Superlatives together:

For Example:

jung = jünger = am jüngsten

alt = älter = am ältesten

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