So now you have probably mastered how to make simple sentences of two to three words in German and happy about it 😅 as you should be. Hurray!!! As a matter of fact it’s what celebrating because it was a thing of hard-practicing. Moving forward, you’ll have to top of the game by adding some vital recipes (adjectives) to the menu. German adjectives are so beautiful to use and I love to play with them (I hope you’ll do too 😉). Yes, they may be a little trickier than those of English but I guarantee you that once you learn them perfectly from the beginning, that won’t be a problem anymore.

Content in this post
1. Definition of adjectives
2. How to obtain adjectives from German nouns
3. How to use Partizip I & II as adjectives
4. Regular and irregular adjectives
5. How to use german adjective endings
3. Adjectives as Substantive nouns
Table of content for positive and negative adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes, identifies, qualifies or modifies a noun or a pronoun. German adjectives always begin with a small letter within a sentence. They can either be naturally occurring or derivatives of some nouns and verbs and vice versa. Those that are derivatives of German verbs often times end with “-t” or “-end” while those that are derived from nouns usually have the suffix “-lich” or “-ig” as well as a changed vowel to the possible umlaut. See examples below;

NounsObtained AdjectivesEnglish Meaning
Suchtsüchtigaddicted
Machtmächtigmighty
Eifersuchteifersüchtigjealous
Gefahrgefährlichdangerous
Freundfreundlichfreundly
Ehreehrlichhonest
Ordenordentlichorderly, arranged
Sportsportlichathletic, sportlish
Punktpünktlichpunctual
Hasshässlichugly
Wichtwichtigimportant
Riesriesighuge
Nervnervignervous (situation)
Schmutzschmutzigdirty
Abhangabhängigdependent
Fleißfleißigdiligent, hard-working
Fleischfleischigfleshy
Ekelekeligdisgusting, irritating
Vorsichtvorsichtigcareful
Niedergangniedriglow
Sorgfaltsorgfältigprecise, accurate
Hochmuthochmütigarrogant, proud (negative)
Salzsalzigsalty
Neugierneugieriginquisitive, curious
Billigungbilligcheap
german adjectives obtained from nouns

Some other adjectives can also be obtained from nouns that end with “-keit” or “-heit” and vice versa. These suffixes represent the suffixes “-cy and -sy”, “-ty” or “-ness” in english. Some examples are listed below…

AdjectivesMeaningObtained NounMeaning
schönpretty, nice (situation)Schönheitbeauty
schwierigdifficultSchwierigkeitdifficulty
kranksickKrankheitsickness
möglichpossibleMöglichkeitpossibility
notwendignecessaryNotwendigkeitnecessity
vielfältigmultipleVielfältigkeitmultiplicity
ähnlichsimilarÄhnlichkeitsimilarity
süßsweetSüßigkeitsweetness
höflichpoliteHöflichkeitpoliteness
gesundhealthyGesundheitHealth
oberflächlichsuperficialOberflächlichkeitsuperficiality
häufigfrequentHäufigkeitfrequency
lustigfunny, jovialLustigkeitjoviality
öffentlichpublicÖffentlichkeitpublicity
peinlichembarrasingPeinlichkeitawkwardness
sichercertain, safe, sure,Sicherheitsecurity, safety
echtgenuineEchtheitgenuiness
kleinsmallKleinheitsmallness
faullazyFaulheitlaziness
offenopenOffenheitsincerity
langsamslowLangsamkeitslowness
richtigcorrectRichtigkeitcorrectness
schlechtbadSchlechtigkeitmeanness
schnellquickSchnelligkeitquickness
artigwell-behavedArtigkeitmannerliness
fremdstrange, foreignFremdheitstrangeness
gleichequal, sameGleichheitequality
hellbrightHelligkeitbrightness
german adjectives formed from nouns with keit and heit

Likewise, other adjectives can be obtained from the Partizip I and Partizip II of german verbs. These verb forms are simply just declined with the adjective endings when being used.

Partizip IMeaningPartizip IIMeaning
öffnendopeninggeöffnetopened
kochendcookinggekochtcooked
spielendplayinggespieltplayed
überraschendsupprisingüberraschtsurprised
schreibendwritinggeschriebenwritten
singendsinginggesungensung
essendeatinggegesseneaten
lesendreadinggelesenread
sprechendspeakinggesprochenspoken
entscheidenddecidingentschiedendecided
list of partizip I & II of german adjectives

Categories of adjectives

The two categories of adjectives are;

  • Regular
  • Irregular

Regular adjectives are those adjectives that don’t change in their comparative and superlative forms. Some examples of regular adjectives are listed below;

GermanEnglishGermanEnglish
hübschbeautifulleckerdelicious
schwachweakweichsoft
dickfat, thickweitfar
dünnthintiefdeep
nervösnervous (emotion)ruhigcalm
leeremptykomischweird, strange
nettnice (personality)leichtlight
bitterbitterspontanspontaneous
sauber clean, neatfalschfalse, wrong
sauersourganzwhole, entire
aktivactiveblasspale
aalglattslipperyleisequiet
schwerheavyeinfacheasy, simple, just
bequemcomfortablefestfixed, permanent
engtightheißhot
erfolgreichsuccessfulfrühearly
ernstseriousspätlate
stolzproud (positive)privatprivate
schickstylish, chicschlaucunning
schüchternshyreifripe, mature
alle Farbenall coloursalle Ordinalzahlenall Ordinal numbers
regular adjectives in german

Irregular adjectives on the other hand have comparative and superlative forms that are totally different. They are mostly those one-syllabic adjectives with the monophthong vowels “a, o, u”. These vowels are changed to the umlaut in the comparative and superlative forms. Examples are;

GermanEnglishGermanEnglish
hochhigh, tall (inanimate)tollgreat,awesome
gutgoodschlanknarrow, slim
langlongvielmuch, many
kurzshortkaltcold
gernprefereddummstupid, dumb
nahnearklugclever, smart
baldsoonjungyoung
armpoorklarclear
warmwarmvollfull
großtall, big (animate)kranksick
starkstrongteuerexpensive
list of german irregular adjectives

All adjectives can occur in two distinguished forms. They can either be positive or negative. The positive form of an adjective is usually complimentary and inspirational unlike the negative form which is the opposite. Adjectives can form their negatives by negating them with “nicht”, adding certain prefixes like “un-” or suffixes like “-los” to the positive form or simply using other adjectives that connote their opposite. Some examples include;

Positive formNegative formEnglish (pos/neg)
möglichunmöglichpossible/ impossible
großkleinbig/ small
schönhässlichbeautiful/ ugly
helldunkelbright/ dark
klugdummclever/ dumb
glücklichtraurighappy/ sad
hochniedrighigh/ low
langkurzlong/ short
dickdünnfat/ thin
einfachschwierigsimple/ difficult
leichtschwerlight/ heavy
bequemunbequemcomfortable/ uncomfortable
schnelllangsamfast/ slow
opposite forms of german adjectives (positive and negative)

A German adjectives may or may not be declined. When they are placed in front of a noun, they must have an end declension but when they are used as verb complement or without a noun, then they don’t require any declension. This declension of german adjectives is dependent on four factors;

These four categories have been combined in the table below for easy understanding.

german adjective endings

**Note that the adjective endings for indefinite, negation and possessive articles are the same.

Usage
1. Der alte Mann kauft seinem jungen Frau eine schöne Blume.—— The old man is buying a beautiful flower for his young wife.

2. Das kluge Mädchen hat ihre B1-Prüfung bestanden.—— The clever girl passed her B1 exam.

3. Die arme Frau hat vor dem hohen alten Gebäude gestanden.——The poor woman was standing in front of the tall old building.

4. Ich liebe kleine Kinder.—— I love little children.

5. Die schönen Töchter des reichen Präsidenten machen ihren Urlaub in Paris.—— The beautiful daughters of the rich president are spending their holiday in Paris.
Sentences

Verbs that complement german adjectives

These verbs are often used without a direct object and still make sense. examples. are;

GermanEnglish
aussehen
sein
wirken
finden
schmecken
to look (appearance)
to be
to work/ function
to find
to taste
complementary adjectival verbs in german

usage;

  • Du siehst gut in dieser Hose aus.—— you look good in this trouser.
  • Wir finde unser Haus schön.—— we find our house beautiful.
  • Mara is müde.—— Mara is tired.
  • Das Radio wirkt nicht gut.—— the radio does not work well.
  • Das Essen schmeckt lecker.—— the food tastes delicious.

Some adjectives don’t follow the normal rules of adjectives declension. They are slightly modified if at all they would be declined. The following rules must then be adhered to.

  1. Adjectives that end with “-e” don’t require another “-e” when declining them. E.g böse
  2. Adjectives that end with “-el” or “-er” lose their preceding “-e” before they are declined. E.g dunkel, teuer
  3. Adjectives that end with “-a” are never declined. E.g rosa, lila
  4. Adjectives that end with “-s” lose their “s” before they are declined. E.g rechts

Usage;

  • Der böse Mann geht jetzt nach Hause.—— The wicked man is going home now.
  • Ich mag dunkle Farben.—— I like dark colours.
  • Meine Schwester hat den teuren Rock gekauft.—— my sister has bought the expensive skirt.
  • Wieso hat deine kleine Nichte ihren rechten Arm gebrochen?—— how come your little niece broke her right arm?
  • Sara möchte ihren süßen Mutter eine rosa Tasche kaufen.—— Sara would like to buy a pink bag for her sweet mother.

Adjectives as substantive nouns

As earlier mentioned, adjectives can be naturally occurring or derivatives of some nouns or verbs. Some of these naturally occurring and derived adjectives of the Partizip I and Partizip II of german verbs can also be used as masculine and feminine nouns. These adjectives when used as nouns are termed substantive nouns. They must be capitalized at the initials like every other German noun and then declined to the imaginary noun they are supposedly standing in for. For example;

AdjectivesSubstantive nounsMeaning
angestelltDer/Die AngestellteThe Employee
krankDer/Die KrankeThe sick (people)
armDer/Die ArmeThe poor (people)
deutschDer/Die Deutsche*rGerman (person)
arbeitlosDer/Die ArbeitsloseThe jobless person
bekanntDer/Die BekannteThe acquaintance
studierendDer/Die StudierendeThe student(s)
Sunstantive nouns of german verbs

Usage;

  • Eine meiner Freundinnen hat einen Deutschen geheiratet.—— one of my friends got married to a german.
  • Diese Angestellte verdient nicht so viel Geld.—— That employee does not earn so much money.
  • Ich schenke oft den Armen Kleidungen, die ich nicht mehr nutze.—— I often give clothes that I don’t use anymore to the poor.

When adjectives come directly after certain indefinite pronouns such as nichts and etwas, they become neuter nouns with their initial letters capitalized and the suffix “-es” added. For example:

  • Kannst du mir etwas Interessantes sagen.—— can you please tell me something interesting.
  • Wir haben noch nichts Leckeres gegessen.—— we still haven’t eaten anything delicious.

2 thoughts on “ADJECTIVES: positive and negative forms

Leave a Reply