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Adjectives and verbs as nouns in German

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In German it is possible to form nouns out of adjectives or verbs: these are the substantivized adjectives or verbs. To form these words, you simply change the first letter into a capital letter and you add a definite and indefinite article. 

What is a substantivized adjective in German?

Substantivized adjectives are nouns formed from adjectives, without their prefix or suffix. All German adjectives can be used as nouns.

This table shows some examples:

AdjectiveSubstantivized AdjectiveTranslation
gutdas Gutegood - the good
deutschder DeutscheGerman - the German
schöndas Schönebeautiful - the beauty

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Gender of substantivized adjectives

Substantivized adjectives can be masculine or feminine. In this case, they designate animate beings.


AdjectiveSubstantivized adjectiveTranslation
jungder Jugendlicheyoung - adolescent
erwachsender Erwachsenegrown-up - adult
großdie Großetall - the tall


Neuter substantivized adjectives refer to qualities or certain abstract concepts.


AdjectiveSubstantivized adjectiveTranslation
gutdas Gutegood - the good
ganzdas Ganzeall 
gründas Grünegreen - the green

Declension table of substantivized adjectives

Although substantivized adjectives are nouns, they are declined as adjectives. You can also have look in the topic of the declension of adjectives.

Nominativeder Altedie Altedas Altedie Alten
Genitivedes Altender Altendes Altender Alten
Dativedem Altender Altendem Altenden Alten
Accusativeden Alten die Altedas Altedie Alten

Translation: alt - old  der Alte - the old

Usage of substantivized adjectives with etwas, nichts, wenig and viel

Neuter substantivized adjectives can be used with the words etwas, nichts, wenig, and viel. However, they remain nouns and are therefore capitalized. In this case, the noun is used in the nominative case singular and ends with -s or -es.


  • etwas Schlechtes
  • Ich möchte etwas Warmes essen. 
  • something bad
  • I would like to eat something warm.
  • nichts Besseres
  • Es gibt nichts Neues zu erzählen.
  • nothing better
  • There is nothing new to tell.
  • wenig Neues
  • In seinem Brief steht wenig Spannendes.
  • little new
  • His letter is not very exciting.
  • viel Interessantes
  • In unserer Kindheit haben wir viel Schönes erlebt. 
  • a lot of interesting things
  • In our childhood we experienced many beautiful things.

What is a substantivized verb in German?

Like substantivized adjectives, substantivized verbs are formed from a verb (infinitive or past/present participle) without any prefix or suffix.

Substantivized infinitive

The substantivized infinitive is formed from the infinitive of a verb. They take a capital letter. The substantivized infinitive describes an action, the act of doing something.

enlightenedSubstantivized infinitves are always neuter.

VerbSubstantivized infinitiveTranslation
lebendas Lebenlive - life
essendas Esseneat - the food
trinkendas Trinkendrink - the drink

It is common to use these substantivized infinitives without any articles. Here are some examples.

  • Radfahren macht Spaß. - Riding a bike is fun. 
  • Telefonieren ist teuer. - Phoning is expensive.
  • Wandern ist gesund. - Hiking is healthy.

Table of declension of substantivized infinitives 

The substantivized infinitives are declined as regular neuter nouns. They take the -s only in Genitive singular and they remain unchanged in the other cases. Normally is only used in the singular. Here you can find the declension table of das Laufen (laufen) - the walking (walking).

Singulardas Laufendes Laufensdem Laufendas Laufen

Substantivized infinitives with bei, zu and von

Substantivized infinitives are often used in combination with bei, zu and von. Be careful: This prepositions are changing, if they are used with an article. Substantivized infinitives are similar to the English gerund with -ing or a simple infinitive. Here are some examples:

bei (+ articles)
  • Beim Fallen hat er sich das Bein gebrochen.
  • Beim Lernen hat er viel Neues entdeckt.
  • When falling, he broke his leg. 
  • He discovered a lot of things while learning. 
zu (+articles)
  • Zum Trinken möchte ich einen Tee.
  • Zum Schlafen braucht man ein Bett.
  • I would like to have a tea to drink.
  • You need a bed to sleep.
von (+articles)
  • Vom Schminken hat sie Falten.
  • Vom Malen hat das Kind schmutzige Hände.
  • She has wrinkles from makeup her face.
  • From painting the child has dirty hands.

Substantivized present participle 

You can form a noun out of the present participle of a verb. Have also a look into the topic of the present participle of verbs.

enlightenedRemember: to form a present participle in German, you need to add an -end or -nd to the radical of the verb.

In this table you can find some examples.

VerbPresent participleNoun
reisen - travelreisend - travellingder Reisende - traveller
schlafen - sleepschlafend - sleepingder Schlafende - sleeper

Declension of substantivized present participle

The nouns of present participle are declined as adjectives. You can find the declension of der Reisender - traveller in this table below.

Singularder Reisendedes Reisendendem Reisendenden Reisenden
Pluraldie Reisendeder Reisendenden Reisenden die Reisenden

Substantivized past participle

You can also form a noun out of the past participle of a verb. Have a look into the topic of the present participle of verbs. In this table you can find some examples.

Verb Past participleNoun
kaufen - buygekauft - boughtdas Gekaufte - the bought
geben - givegegeben - givendas Gegebene - the given

Declension of substantivized past participle

As for the present participle, also the substantivized past participle are declined as adjectives. You can find the declension of das Gekaufte - the bought thing in this table below.

Singulardas Gekauftedes Gekauftendem Gekauftenden Gekauften
Pluraldie Gekauftender Gekauftenden Gekauftendie Gekauften



  1. Exercise about adjectives and verbs as nouns in German

Exercise about adjectives and verbs as nouns in German

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