Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Schwache Deklination der Adjektive

I recently found I was making mistakes with something I thought I had mastered years ago - adjective endings. A sure sign that I need to keep on practising the basics of the language. Also after two months silence on this blog it's time to get to work again.

German adjectives inflect when placed before the noun they qualify. Used attributively like this, they take endings which need to be in agreement with the gender, case and number of the noun. However, there is a further complication - the endings can also depend on what determiner precedes them, if any. Determiners include the definite and indefinite articles but also pronouns such as dieser, jeder, andere.

It is usual to set out the adjectival endings in three different tables - the so called weak, strong and mixed declensions. Since we are learning German I'll introduce the German terms - schwache Deklination, starke Deklination, gemischte Deklination.

I find it easier to learn if I can break tasks down into manageable chunks and, since the weak declension is the easiest to learn, we'll start there. This really is easy. There are only two possible endings -e or -en. The weak declension is used for adjectives after the definite article - nach dem bestimmten Artikel.


Notice there are only 5 instances in the table where the ending is -e. Learn those and remember everything else is -en.

Now for something to practise with. I suggest building some simple exercises yourself where you can insert adjectives between article and noun. The following suggests a pattern for covering all the cases and the plural. Supply your own adjectives and nouns.
    Nom. - der Herr, die Dame, das Kind
    Akk. - ohne den Herrn, ohne die Frau, ohne das Mädchen
    Gen. - trotz des Mannes, trotz der Frau, wegen des Kindes
    Dat. - mit dem Politiker, nach der Frau, von dem Mädchen
    Plur. - die Kinder, ohne die K., trotz der K., mit den Kindern

The weak declension is also used after:
    derjenige, derselbe, dieser, jeder, jeglicher, jener, mancher, solcher, welcher
    alle, beide, irgendwelche, sämtliche
and in the singular after:
    all-, einig-,irgendwelch-, sämtlich-
after the personal pronouns wir, ihr

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