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Adjectival Nouns in German Explained

Updated: Feb 13

Adjectival nouns (in German, "adjektivische Substantive" or "substantivierte Adjektive") are nouns that are derived from adjectives. They are used to express qualities, characteristics, or attributes in a more concise and specific way. In this blog post, I'll discuss how you use adjectival nouns in German.




Formation of Adjectival Nouns:

  • To form an adjectival noun, you generally capitalise the adjective and use it as a noun.

  • Adjectival nouns use the German adjective endings that are preceded by definite articles

  • The gender of the adjectival noun is determined by the noun that is replaced by the capitalised adjective.

  • They can be used in for both singular and plural.

  • "Der Arme" (The poor man) vs. der arme Mann

  • "Die Reichen" (The rich people) vs. die reichen Leute

  • "Die Schöne" (The beautiful woman) vs. die schöne Frau

Usage of Adjectival Nouns:

  • Adjectival nouns are often used to describe a group of people or things who share a common quality.

  • They can be used to refer to people, groups, or objects in a more general or abstract way.

  • "Die Jungen mögen das" (The young people like it.)

  • "Die Kranken müssen zum Arzt gehen" (The sick [people] must go to the doctor.)

  • "Das Alte sollte bewahrt werden" (The old [things] should be preserved.)

Use in Sentences:

  • Adjectival nouns are often used in sentences to describe or identify a specific group or concept.

  • "Die Armen benötigen Unterstützung" (The poor [people] need support.)

  • "Die Schönen sind oft erfolgreich" (The beautiful [people] are often successful.)

  • "Das Alte sollte respektiert werden" (The old [things] should be respected.)

Adjectival nouns allow for more precise and efficient expression of qualities or attributes. They are commonly used in literature, everyday language, and formal writing to provide specificity and nuance to descriptions and discussions. To learn more about the four German cases and other ways to describe nouns, such as relative clauses in German, check out our other posts. Please leave a like or comment if you found this post helpful. Thanks for reading!

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