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Lesson 7: Shopping and Clothing

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Adjectives and how to use them with different articles

Some time ago, in lesson 2, you studied the meaning of some adjectives in German. For example: neu, alt, groß, etc.. But until now, we did not extend this list of adjectives any further. The reason for this is that we are still only able to form simle constructions with adjectives, in which the adjective comes after a form of the verb 'sein' (to be). For example: 'Ich bin schön' or 'Du bist hässlich'.

What we are going to learn now is how to use adjectives directly in front of nouns. An example from the dialog of page 1:
Ich möchte eine neue Jacke kaufen.
I would like to buy a new jacket.

The adjective is highlighted in red and as we can see, its ending is 'e'.

In German, whenever we use adjectives in front of nouns as we did in the above example, we have to add an ending to the adjective, which depends on three things:
  • gender of the noun (masculine, feminine or neuter)
  • case of the noun (nominative and accusative are the only two cases, which we know so far)
  • type of the article used (definite article or indefinite article)

    Seems complicated, right? You will see now that it's actually not that bad. There is a lot of regularity in the following tables, which summarize, what endings we use for which genders, cases and articles.

    adjective-endings with definite articles
    casemasculinefeminineneuterplural
    nominative-e-e-e-en
    accusative-en-e-e-en


    adjective-endings with indefinite articles (or no article)
    casemasculinefeminineneuterplural
    nominative-er-e-es-e
    accusative-en-e-es-e
    Note: The plural indefinite article does not exist! Therefore, if no article is used in the plural, use the endings of this table.

    Now let's look at some example sentences, in which adjectives are placed directly in front of their noun. Each time, we will explain the adjective's ending by naming the noun's gender, case and article type:

    1)
    Die
      neue Lehrerin heißt Kirsten. (Lehrerin = feminine, nominative, possessive pronoun => 'e')
    2)
    Der
      alte Fernseher
    ist
      kaputt. (Fernseher = masculine, nominative, definite article => 'e')
    3) Peter
    ist
      ein freundlicher
    Mann
    . (
    Mann
      = masculine, nominative, indefinite article => '
    er
    ')

    4)
    Aber
     
    seine
      Töchter Elisabeth
    und
      Karin
    sind
      unfreundliche Mädchen. (Mädchen = plural, nominative, indefinite article (no article) => 'e')
    5)
    Die
      schöne
    Frau
      dort drüben heißt Marlene. (
    Frau
      = feminine, nominative, definite article => 'e')

    6)
    Wir
     
    wollen
     
    heute
      abend
    in
      ein schönes Restaurant
    gehen
    . (Restaurant = neuter, accusative, indefinite article => '
    es
    ')

    7) Manfred
    geht
     
    in
      den großen Garten. (Garten = masculine, accusative, definite article => 'e')


    The last two sentences from above contain an accusative case. And again, we can look at our accusative-rule from lesson 4, which we extended to the indefinite article on Page 2 of this lesson and now restate it to:
    RULE: The accusative is only visible, if it is formed on masculine nouns. In that case, the definite article 'der' changes to 'den' and the indefinite article 'ein' changes to 'einen'. Also, all adjectives have to end in '-en', if they precede a masculine noun in the accusative (see tables above). Thus, the accusative of feminine and neuter nouns is NOT distinguishable from their nominative forms.

    On the following pages, we will practice adding the correct endings to adjectives depending on the gender, case and type of article (indefinite, definite) of the succeeding noun.


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    pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12        vocabularies       Exercises [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]

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