How to form German adjectives
- 1.Simple adjectives in German
- 2.Derived adjectives in German
- 2.1.Prefixes of adjectives
- 2.2.Verbal roots of adjectives
- 2.3.Nominal roots of adjectives
- 2.4.Adverbial roots of adjectives
- 2.5.Roots from other adjectives
- 2.6.Suffixes of adjectives
- 3.Adjectives formed out of past or present participles in German
- 3.1.The present participle used as an adjective
- 3.2.The past participle used as an adjective
- 4.Compound adjectives in German
- 4.1.Compound adjectives made from nouns, verbs and other adjectives
- 5.1.Exercise on the different roots of adjectives in German
Simple adjectives in German
In German, there are simple adjectives like e.g. colours, as well as derived adjectives, that were deduced from other words. You can call them descriptive adjectives, because they provide additional information about persons and (abstract) things.
- Das bequeme Sofa. (The comfortable sofa.)
- Der bittere Kaffee. (The bitter coffee.)
- Ein weißes Haus. (A white house.)
Some types of adjectives stay the same, but some of them you have to decline. Take a look at chapter for different types of adjectives for detailed information.
Derived adjectives in German
Besides the simple adjectives there are also expanded adjectives, which can be generated by:
- adding a seperable prefix
- transforming a verb (verbal root)
- transforming a noun (nominal root)
- transforming an adverb (adverbial root)
- transforming another adjective (addjectival root)
- adding a seperable suffix
Prefixes of adjectives
The prefix just means before, so something will be right in front of the simple adjective. Prefixes are like short syllables added to a word. This are just some examples.
- ab - artig (abnormal)
- un - bequem (uncomfortable)
- wider - sprüchlich (contradictory)
- zer - legt (dissambled)
- ur - alt (age-old)
- grund - ehrlich (thoroughly honest)
Keep in mind, that some prefixes have a special meaning. For instance, the syllable un- often expresses the opposite of the original word (bequem = comfortable/unbequem = uncomfortable). Same case is with über- & unter-: überschätzt (overestimated) & unterschätzt (underestimated).
Verbal roots of adjectives
If a word has verbal roots, the adjective is directly derived from a verb.
|Prefix and verb||Example|
|an - dauern (to last)||Er fragt andauernd nach (He is constantly asking.)|
|aus - brechen (to escape)||der ausgebrochene Vogel (the escaped bird)|
|bei - liegen (to be enclosed)||die beiliegende Zeitschrift (the enclosed magazine)|
|auf - schließen (to open-up)||der aufgeschlossene Lehrer (the open-minded teacher)|
|er - weitern (to extend)||die erweiterten Öffnungszeiten (extended opening hours)|
|voll - enden (to complete)||ein vollendetes Manuskript (a completed manuscript)|
|zu - steigen (to board adter the trip has started)||die zugestiegenen Fahrgäste (passengers who have just boarded)|
Be careful with the meaning of a verbal adjective! Sometimes it changes its meaning, e.g. aufschließen (to open-up) and der aufgeschlossene Lehrer (the open-minded teacher). The teacher is not opened-up like a door, but an open-minded person.
Nominal roots of adjectives
As it is possible to deduce adjective from verbs, it is also possible to derive them from nouns.
|das Gebilde (the formation)||der gebildete Ausschuss (the composed committee)|
|das Gefieder (the plumage)||das gefiederte Huhn (the plumaged chicken)|
|der Unsinn (the nonsense)||das unsinnige Gerede (the nonsense talk)|
|der Unmensch (the brute)||eine unmenschliche Aufgabe (an inhuman task)|
|die Unzahl (the countless number)||die unzähligen Fragen (the unnumerable questions)|
|der Durchbruch (the break through)||die durchbrochene Eisschicht (the ruptured layer of ice)|
|der Untergang (the downfall)|
die untergangene Welt (the sunken world)
Adverbial roots of adjectives
There is only one special case for adverbs to become adjectives. By using the ending -ig an adverb can be used as an adjective.
|Adverb and ending||Example|
|bald - ig (quick)||über eine baldige Antwort sind wir dankbar (an early reply will be oblige)|
|sofort - ig (instant)||mit sofortiger Wirkung (with immediate effect)|
|zweimal - ig (twice)||zweimalige Wiederholung (twice repeated)|
|rückwärt(s) - ig||rückwärtige Bebauung (rear development)|
|heut(e) - ig (contemporary)||das heutige Wetter (today's weather)|
Roots from other adjectives
Some adjectives might exist because two other adjectives have been linked to a new word stem. It can be done with (see first table), or without using an umlaut (second table).
|Adjective and ending||Example|
|faul + ig (putrid)||der faulige Apfel (the putrid apple)|
|rund + lich (roundish)||ein rundliches Gesicht (a roundish face)|
|viel + fach (multiple)||vielfach bewährt (multiple proven)|
|Adjective and ending||Example|
|voll + ig = völlig (completely)||völlig ausverkauft (completely sold out)|
|krank + lich = kränklich (sikish)||das kränkliche Mädchen (the sikish girl)|
|schwarz + lich = schwärzlich (blackish)||ein schwärzliches Kleid (a blackish dress)|
Suffixes of adjectives
Many words can be transformed into adjectives by adding a suffix, meaning that you add an additional ending to an existing word. By doing so, you can either transform verbs, nouns, adverbs or other adjectives into new adjectives.
|Adjective and suffix||Example|
|ess - bar (eatable)||Das Essen ist essbar. (The food is eatable.)|
|kleb - rig (sticky)||Der Fußboden ist klebrig. (The floor is sticky.)|
|beispiel - haft (exemplary)||ein beispielhafter Aufsatz (an exemplary essay)|
|alkohol - isch (alcoholic)||eine alkoholische Bowle (an alcoholic punch)|
|nachdenk - lich (thoughtful)||das nachdenkliche Mädchen (the thoughtful girl)|
|gewalt - sam (by violence)||Sie wurden gewaltsam befreit. (They were freed by violence.)|
Do not learn those endings by heart, but keep them in mind, because it might be helpful while learning new vocabulary.
Adjectives formed out of past or present participles in German
The participle is a special type of a word. To use it as an adjective, we have two different types of participles in German:
- The present participle (describes two simultaneous actions)
- The past participle (describes two actions didn't happen at the same time)
The present participle used as an adjective
This participle is used if you want to describe
- simultaneous actions
- or actions that are not finished yet
You can either put the participle in front of the noun (then it needs to be conjugated in accordance to fit to the noun), or behind the the noun (then the participle stays the same).
|Infinitive of the verb||Participle before the noun||Participle after the noun|
|singen (to sing)||Der singende Mann tanzte im Zimmer. (The singing man is dancing in the room.)||Der Mann tanzte singend im Zimmer. (The man danced singing in the room.)|
|schweigen(to keep silent)||Die schweigenden Kinder lesen. (The silent kids are reading.)||Die Kinder lesen schweigend. (The kids are reading silently.)|
|weinen (to cry)||Das weinende Kind liegt im Bett. (The crying child lies in bed.)||Das Kind liegt weinend im Bett. (The child lies crying in bed.)|
If you want to learn more about the characteristics and especially the conjugation of present participles in German, have a look at the chapter about German participles.
The past participle used as an adjective
The past participle is used to describe
activities that happen at different times
the circumstances in which an action happens
In German, there are different possibilities to construct the past participle. For instance by using prefixes or suffixes. For the exact construction of this, please habe a look at the chapter about German principles.
|Infinitive of the verb||Sentence with past participle|
|verlieren (to lose)||Endlich fand sie den verlorenen Schlüssel (Finally, she found the lost keys.)|
|kaufen (to buy)||Heute baue ich den neu gekauften Schrank auf. (Today I build the bought wardrobe.)|
|backen (to bake)||Ich teile den frisch gebackenen Kuchen. (I share the freshly baked cake.)|
As you can see in the examples, some things happened before (e.g. the keys got lost) and then the second happening occured afterwards.
Compound adjectives in German
In German it is possible to create new words by combining two other words. To learn more about compounds in German language, have a look at the chapter about compound nouns in German.
- berufstätig, compound of "der Beruf" und "tätig" (employed)
- umweltfreundlich, compound of "die Umwelt" und "freundlich" (eco-friendly)
The second word of these combinations is called the "primary word", as it determines the gender and number of a compound.
In English the words of the resulting word chain are typically seperated by a free space or hyphens, while in German the compounds normally appear as one word.
Compound adjectives made from nouns, verbs and other adjectives
Some compound words are formed by joining an adjective and a noun.
|konform||das System||systemkonform||in confirmity with the system|
In this case, the noun is always the primary word and of course states the gender and number of the compound.
It is also possible to match up an adjective and a verb to form a new word.
|faul||laufen||lauffaul||too lazy to run|
|gut||machen||gutmachen||to put something right|
The last possibility to create compounds is by using adjectives as the primary word.
|bereit||arbeitsbereit||ready for work|
Of couse, it's also possible to do it the other way around, which means to create another word out of an adjective. For instance, combining an adjective and a noun to create a new noun, e.g. "rot" and "der Kohl" will be "der Rotkohl" (the cabbage).
What our students say
Unlike in other platforms, all our teachers are manually verified by our professional team. Trust in the experiences of our students.
Hands down one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of working with. Very knowledgeable in all aspects of Bulgarian (grammar rules, expressions, ...) but also in both English and French, which helps whenever you have a more in-depth question on the how or why something is the way it is in Bulgarian. Furthermore he has his own material and always comes prepared, but he is equally open to changing the subject of a lesson to suit your needs. He is patient, positive and not too scholarly, which is what you need as an adult learning day- to- day Bulgarian.I have been working with him for 18 months now and still look forward to our lessons every week.
An's Bulgarian has tremendously improved since she gave it go a year and a half ago. Of course, It goes without saying that I am pleased to work with such an enthusiastic learner who is living proof that, through hard work and perseverance, everyone can succeed in their language goals. An, you are now an independant user of the language who is able to successfully lead real-live conversations. Pat yourself on the back.
Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
I would highly recommend Tove. Her lessons are fantastic and I learn exactly what I'm interested in. Tove is very friendly, our chemistry goes well together and I really enjoy being tought by her.
Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
Fabrizio's children are learning French very fast, I have the impression that these lessons online have been helpful for them and I am sure they will master the language easily. They are very interested in learning.
Daniela is a very pleasant and brisk teacher who has the talent to make you feel at ease immediately. Her lessons are a nice mix of conversation and theory. Again and again it is a nice hour to look forward to !! Thank you Daniela !!
Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
It is always a pleasure to have English lessons with Corinne. The lessons are always a lot of fun and extremely interesting concerning on current affairs and unfortunately the time always ends too early. Very recommended.
Thank you, Danilo. It is always a pleasure having lessons with you and I have enjoyed our many conversations together. And what a joy that over time they have become easier for both of us to understand! :D
Carmen is really prepared and very very nice. She takes you by the hand and introduces you to portuguese language in a really pleasant way. I learned 3-4 sentences already on the first lesson!
Fabia is a very nice student and learns very quickly. It is a pleasure to teach her as she really likes to learn a difficult language like Portuguese and improved a lot.
It was very nice to take a lesson from Theano (Anny). She is adaptable to the student's level and is prepared to help the student as necessary. She is a friendly and caring teacher!
Σ' ευχαριστώ πολύ Μέγκαν! I'm glad you had a good experience and that you enjoyed it. Your excitment about learning greek motivates me even more :)
Marissa is a very professional teacher who can put the student at ease. It is precise, effective and oriented towards achieving the objectives: highly recommended.
Thanks so much Paola!!! I LOVE working with you guys and have enjoyed every moment. Even after this brief period, we can already start to see some changes. :-)
I have had many lessons with Luisa and I always look forward to them. We begin by chatting about the past week's events and them move to Espresso which I find very useful as a good review of material I have done in the past. There is often additional words used I had not met before. Luisa is always a pleasure to talk with and is a kind and pleasant teacher. She corrects me gently and offers useful words or meanings when appropriate.
Dear Martin thank you so much ! It's my pleasure taking class with you. And thanks a lot for your suggestion about Us movies ( Just Mercy) or Us books
I had my first lesson a couple of days ago and everything went super good!
Karin was attentive, transmiting her positivism and helping me with every doubt I had.
She really focus on teaching how to pronounce and talk a language, so this is really interesting for me, to practise it & be able to use it in my day by day.
I really recommend her to everyone willing to learn a new language :)
Hi Alba! Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I enjoyed our class too & I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects :-)
A prepared and kind teacher, ready to teach with patience and good humor. He provided me with very useful materials to study and review even after the lesson. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a language with a smile. Thanks Silvia :)
Thank you so much for the Chiara review! It was a real pleasure to have this lesson with you. I wish you a nice trip with the German language!
The lesson with Celia was perfect! She was puntcual, kind and her teaching method is effective and funny.
She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!