German Adjectives: Position, Usage, Endings, and Possessive

What is an adjective? An adjective is a descriptive word modifying a noun to express quality. In English, this is “red”. In German, this is “rot”. Adjectives have the exact same usage in the German language and are declined according to gender.

A standard dictionary entry for a noun is found in the uninflected “stem” form, but adjectives follow standard conventions (with few exceptions) and can be used for all genders or plurals quite logically by adding particular endings (inflections) to the stem depending, on the context and the case (this will be detailed in the tables later in this subsection).

The Position of an Adjective

The adjective in German is most often found…

Between the article and the noun

Ein roter Vogel steht auf meinem Schornstein. (A red bird is perched on my chimney.)

  • Here, the adjective “rot” with the masculine stem “-er” is found between the indefinite article “ein” and the noun “Vogel”

Before the noun without an article

Ich hätte gerne einen Kuchen ohne rote Kirschen. (I would like a cake without red cherries.)

  • The word “ohne” in this sentence is translated as “without”, and is thus a replacement for an article. The adjective is still connected to the noun, “Kuchen”

After an article and without a noun

Die roten sind die besten. (The red ones are the best.)

  • While in English one might say “ones” after a descriptive adjective, such as in this example, the adjective in German fulfills both the role of the adjective and the “ones”

With a verb

Ich sehe nur rot. (I only see red.)

  • Similar to English, if an adjective follows a verb it can often stand without a noun, if it is meant as a description of a quality that a verb allows to be experienced


Was ist deine Lieblingsfarbe von Gitarre? Rot. (What is your favorite color of guitar? Red.)

  • This may seem obvious, but as in some other languages it isn’t the case, it is worth mentioning. As in English, if a one-word answer is possible, an adjective can stand alone

Ending (Inflections)

Inflections are used to describe the endings applied to the root form of the adjective according to gender and case. The stem form of the adjective most often terminates with a consonant, and the inflections begin with a vowel, and either end with that vowel or apply an additional consonant.

Inflections assume strong, weak, or mixed forms, and additionally, as in example 5 above, sometimes no inflection is necessary.

Strong Inflections

Strong inflections are used in the case of no article, or following a word or phrase that is non-inflectable itself, such as “ein bisschen” (a little).

Here are the endings for strong inflections.

Strong Inflections Suffix Table



  1. Ich trinke nur frisches Wasser. (I only drink fresh water.) – frisch takes the neuter accusative strong inflection ending, as there is no article and Wasser is neuter
  2. Ich gebe nur höflichen Kindern Süßigkeiten. (I only give candy to polite children.) – höflich takes the plural dative strong inflection ending, as there is no article and Kinder is plural
  3. Meine Mutter hat ein paar nutzlose Abos. (My mom has a few useless subscriptions.) – nutzlos takes the plural accusative strong inflection ending, as “ein paar” is non-inflectable and Abos is plural

Weak Inflections

Weak inflections are used after a direct article, or a direct indicating phrase.

Table of Words Necessitating Weak Inflections

derjenig-the one
derselb-the same
Note: Each of these includes all gender and declined forms

Weak Inflections Suffix Table



  1. Die schwarze Katze bringt Unglück. (The black cat is unlucky.) – schwarz takes the feminine nominative weak inflection ending, because the noun Katze (cat) is feminine, descriptions with “sein” (to be) necessitate nominative, and the adjective schwarz is preceded by a direct article
  2. Das Auto gehört denselben störenden Teenagern, deren Hund in meinen Garten kackt. (That car belongs to the same pestering teens whose dog poos on my yard.) – störend takes the plural dative weak inflection ending, as the verb gehören necessitates dative, störend is preceded by a word necessitating the weak inflection (denselben), and Teenagern is plural
  3. Solche charmanten jungen Männer wie du werden keine Probleme haben, die richtige Frau zu finden. (Such gentlemanly young men like you will have no problem finding a suitable wife.) – both charmant and jung take the plural nominative weak inflection ending, as they follow the word “solch” (such)

Mixed Inflections

Mixed inflections are used in the case of an indirect article, or a possessive.

Mixed Inflections Suffix Table



  1. Ich liebe deinen schwarzen Hut! (I love your black hat!) – schwarz takes the masculine accusative mixed inflection ending, as the noun Hut (hat) is masculine, the verb lieben (to love) necessitates accusative, and the adjective schwarz follows a possessive

Making Comparisons Using Adjectives

Just like in English, if a comparison is necessary, an adjective often serves this purpose. For instance, “Siegfried is funnier than Klaus, but Klaus is more intelligent than Siegfried.” Yet, unlike in English, where in many cases an adjective follows the word “more” (e.g. more intelligent), most German adjectives have a valid comparative form (e.g. interessanter).

The basic comparison is executed via the addition of an “-er” ending to the stem of the adjective. Lustig (funny) will become “lustiger”. In English, one can say either funnier or more funny, but in German, only lustiger would be accepted (not mehr lustig).

A similar situation is the following: “The funnier movie is the second one.” In this situation, the inflection for the masculine weak adjective would be added to lustiger (funny) – so, first adding an “-er” and then the additional inflection of “e” – because Film (movie) is masculine, and is a weak inflection since Der (the) is a direct article. Thus, “Der lustigere Film ist der zweite.”.

The superlative comparison (in English, for example, “the funniest”) is executed in one of two ways. The addition of “-st” to the ending of the adjective (plus the gender inflection) can be used to denote a comparative attribution to a noun. For example, “Das leckerste Brot ist das Brot von Aldi,“ (The tastiest bread is the bread from Aldi). Alternatively, the ending “-sten” is used in conjunction with the preposition “am”, allowing for such a structure as the following: “Das Album 1989 von Taylor Swift ist sehr gut, aber das Album folklore ist am besten.” (The album 1989 from Taylor Swift is very good, but the album folklore is the best).