Thursday, 9 December 2010

Starke Deklination der Adjektive

When there is no article in front of an adjective used attributively, then the strong declension is used. Although there are more endings to learn it is worth noting that, with the exception of the genitive masculine and neuter, the endings match those of the definite article.

The strong endings are also used after pronouns that have no ending (nach Pronomen ohne Endung): allerlei, etwas, genug, manch, mancherlei, mehr, nichts, viel, welch, wenig, solch and also after the pronouns:  andere, derartige, einige, einzelne, etliche, folgende, gewisse, lauter, mehrere, ein paar, verschiedene, viele, wenige. They are used following ich, du and whole numbers greater than one.
It's worth noting the peculiarities of a few adjectives. Adjectives ending in -a are not declined - rosa, lila, prima, usw. Those ending -el drop the e when declined, for example: dunkel, nobel, heikel would add the appropriate ending to dunkl, nobl, heikl. A similar thing happens with some ending -er - after a diphthong as in sauer and where the adjective comes from a foreign language. But there are some ending in -er that don't follow this pattern - finster, bitter are good examples. Hoch drops the c when used attributively.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Gemischte Deklination der Adjektive

The mixed declension - gemischte Deklination - is used for adjectives that follow an indefinite article - nach dem unbestimmten Artikel. When we looked at the weak declension we saw that -en was used in all but 5 positions in the table of endings. That applies for the mixed declension as well but 3 of the 5 differ in the mixed declension. These are shown with a pink background in the table below.

You may wonder why a plural is shown. That's because the mixed declension is used after kein and the possesive pronouns mein, dein, sein and so on. It is also used after manch ein, solch ein, welch ein, ein solcher.
The 3 positions in the table that differ from the weak endings all follow determiners which have no ending e.g. ein, mein, kein. Where the adjective has -en as ending then the determiner has its own ending e.g. the masculine accusative, genitive and dative - meinen alten Freund, meines alten Freundes, meinem alten Freund.
Again it is really worth working through some exercises to practise these. You find some useful exercise here

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