Adjectival Agreement in German: A Comprehensive Guide for Learners

German is a beautiful language with a complex grammar system. One of the most challenging aspects for language learners is adjectival agreement. Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns in a sentence. In German, adjectives change according to case, gender, and number. This means that the ending of an adjective can vary depending on the noun it describes. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of adjectival agreement in German.

Gender Agreement

In German, nouns have a gender – masculine, feminine, or neuter. Adjectives must agree in gender with the noun they describe. For example, the adjective “groß” (big) changes its ending according to the gender of the noun:

– Der großer Hund (the big dog – masculine)

– Die große Katze (the big cat – feminine)

– Das große Buch (the big book – neuter)

Notice that the endings of the adjective “groß” change in accordance with the gender of the noun.

Number Agreement

In addition to gender agreement, adjectives in German also change according to number. This means that the ending of an adjective can vary when the noun is singular or plural. For example:

– Der großer Hund (the big dog – singular)

– Die großen Hunde (the big dogs – plural)

Notice that the ending of the adjective “groß” changes from -er to -en when the noun is plural.

Case Agreement

In German, there are four cases – nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. Adjectives must also agree in case with the noun they modify. For example:

– Der große Hund (the big dog – nominative)

– Ich sehe den großen Hund (I see the big dog – accusative)

– Ich gebe dem großen Hund ein Leckerli (I give the big dog a treat – dative)

– Das Fell des großen Hundes ist weich (the fur of the big dog is soft – genitive)

Notice that the adjective “groß” changes its ending depending on the case of the noun.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to the rules of adjectival agreement in German. For example, when an adjective is used as a predicate after the verb “sein” (to be), it does not change its ending. For example:

– Der Hund ist groß (the dog is big – predicate adjective)

– Der große Hund läuft schnell (the big dog runs fast – attributive adjective)

Another exception is when an adjective comes before a noun that is not definite or indefinite. In this case, the adjective does not change its ending. For example:

– Schöne Blumen (beautiful flowers – no article before the noun)

Conclusion

Adjectival agreement is one of the most challenging aspects of German grammar. Learners must pay close attention to the gender, number, and case of the noun they are modifying in order to choose the correct ending for the adjective. However, with practice and attention to detail, learners can master adjectival agreement in German.