Nominative German Adjective Endings

    This week’s 3 Minuten Deutsch video is about the German adjective endings in the nominative case. Above you can find the video. After this paragraph you can find a text explanation and some more example sentences. If you want to try this out on your own, you can find a worksheet and answer key in my online store for FREE.

    Categories of German Adjective Endings

    All adjectives in German have 3 groups into which they fall. If they are preceded by an article, you have to decide if that article counts as a definite or indefinite article. If there isn’t an article, then you use the “non-preceded” endings. The non-preceded endings and the endings after indefinite articles will usually be similar, but the plural form in the nominative case is the only one that is different. Let’s take a look at some examples to get away from talking in abstract ideas about grammar.

    Nominative German Adjectives Preceded by Definite Articles

    Der hässliche Mann, die schöne Frau und das hübsche Mädchen sind eine Familie.
    The ugly man, the beautiful woman, and the pretty girl are a family.

    In this sentence, you can clearly see that it doesn’t matter what the gender of the noun is, as long as it is preceded by a definite article (der, die, das), the German adjective ending in the nominative case is -e (hässlich+e, schön+e, hübsch+e).

    Nominative German Adjectives Preceded by Indefinite Articles

    When there is an indefinite article, the change is quite simple. The German adjective ending that used to be on the definite article is now on the nominative case adjective instead. You can clearly see that in the gif below.

    Beginner German with Herr Antrim

    Ein hässlicher Mann, eine schöne Frau und ein hübsches Mädchen können eine Familie sein.
    An ugly man, a beautiful woman, and a pretty girl can be a family.

    Here you can see the same endings that were on the definite articles in the previous example have shifted to the adjective, because of the use of the indefinite articles. If you have trouble visualizing this change, I have created another gif for that.

    Nominative Non-Preceded German Adjectives

    The third category isn’t all that much different from the adjectives after indefinite articles, but the usage is a bit more complicated. As in English, there aren’t very many nouns that you can use in German without having an article in front of them. It is incredibly easy to use these types of adjective endings in the plural form, but the singular ones are troublesome, because you really can’t come up with that many unique examples. I’ll try it anyway.

    Roter Wein, gelbe Limonade und dunkles Bier gefällt mir.
    I like red wine, yellow lemonade, and dark beer.
    Literally: Red wine, yellow lemonade, and dark beer is pleasing to me.

    In this example, you can clearly see that the endings haven’t changed at all form those after indefinite articles. The only exception to this rule in the nominative case is the endings in the plural, which I haven’t talked about at all yet. I have created one more gif for that below on a chart. After the gif I’ll show you some examples with the plural forms of nouns in the nominative case.

    Adjective Endings with Plural Nouns

    Die kleinen Kinder sind laut.
    The small children are loud.

    Meine kleinen Kinder sind laut.
    My small children are loud.

    Kleine Kinder sind laut.
    Small children are loud.

    If there is an article of any kind in the plural, the adjective takes -en. If there isn’t an article in the plural, the adjective takes -e. It’s that simple.

    Is it pronounced “gif” or “jif”?

    After all of that there is only one question that remains. Do you pronounce “gif” as “gif” or “jif”?

    Gif vs Jif
    Gif vs Jif

    Herr Antrim

    Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites.