A fun and easy guide to German adjective endings & declensions

Adjectives are the tools that add color, emotion, and depth to our stories, bringing them to life and making them easy for others to picture. When you’re telling those stories in German, it can get a little tricky though!

When speaking German, the challenge is not just choosing the right adjective, but also making sure you cap it off with the correct German adjective ending.

In English, adjective endings are easy. Whether you say “My dog is small” or “the small dog is mine’, the adjective “small” doesn’t change, but in German, it does: In this case, from “Mein Hund ist klein” to “der kleine Hund ist meiner”.

That can easily get confusing, which is why we’ve decided to teach you all about German adjective endings and how to choose the right one.

Two women speaking German.

What are adjectives?

Adjectives are what we call “Wie-Wörter” (How-words) in German and that’s because they describe how things are: complex, soft, blue, bright, big or beautiful!

As you’ll remember from our article about 300 fun & unique German adjectives, they are the attributes that describe a noun. You’ll need them anytime you’re trying to be prescriptive and specific, whether you’re expressing your feelings or describing an outfit.

Picture a noun, for instance, a book, something you can hold in your hands. By adding an adjective, you specify and enrich that noun. The book can be described as thick, thin, ancient, brand-new, tattered, glossy, riveting, or any other descriptive term you might come up with. Adjectives paint a clear and colorful picture in our minds.

What are adjective endings and why are they important in German?

Adjective endings are the last part of an adjective or the part that follows the stem.

In German and many other languages, these endings change to reflect its function in the sentence. That way, they indicate different grammatical categories such as case, number, and gender.

That means a noun or adjective ending can show you whether that noun is singular or plural, male or female and even if it’s the subject, the object or showing possession in the sentence, and so on.

Here are some examples:

OriginalChanged endingTranslationWhat changed?
Der JungeDie JungenThe boy → The boysSingular → Plural
Der SchauspielerDie SchauspielerinThe actor → The actressMale → Female
Mein ApfelMeines ApfelsMy apple → Of my appleNominative → Genitive

German adjective declensions

Declensions are exactly those little tweaks and changes that nouns and adjectives undergo depending on their role in a sentence.

Think of them as different outfits for words: They change the word’s "look" and therefore its function.

A noun will need a new ending, when it gets ready to change its meaning, kind of like you might put on a hat when you’re getting ready to take a walk in the rain.

To help you navigate all these changes, we've put together a comprehensive table that breaks down German adjective endings based on case, gender, and whether they are preceded by a definite or indefinite article.

Remember not to confuse declension with conjugation. One is for nouns and adjectives, the other one is for verbs. Double-check our helpful conjugation guide if you’re unsure!

Woman using the Berlitz conjugation guide on her mobile phone.

There are three different kinds of declensions:

TypeWhen is it used?Example sentenceTranslation
Strong declensionWhen there's no preceding article (like "a" or "the" in English)Alte Menschen lesen oft Bücher.Old people often read books.
Weak declensionWhen the adjective is preceded by a definite article (like "der", "die", "das")Die alten Menschen sind freundlich.The old people are friendly.
Mixed declensionWhen the adjective is preceded by an indefinite article (like "ein", "eine") or negative article "kein"Ein alter Mann geht spazieren.An old man is walking.

Strong German adjective endings

"Strong" adjective endings are used when there is no article preceding the adjective, or when the article itself doesn't show case, gender, or number. They give you all that information directly.

This is where it gets a little bit tricky because not every masculine, feminine or neutral adjective has the same ending in German. Therefore, they’re not all declinated the same way. However, here are some examples for each gender:

SingularNominativemein netter Mannmeine schlaue Fraumein kleines Haustier
Accusativemeinen netten Mannmeine schlaue Fraumein kleines Haustier
Dativemeinem netten Mannmeiner schlauen Fraumeinem kleinen Haustier
Genitivemeines netten Mannesmeiner schlauen Fraumeines kleinen Haustiers
PluralNominativemeine netten Männermeine schlauen Frauenmeine kleinen Haustiere
Accusativemeine netten Männermeine schlauen Frauenmeine kleinen Haustiere
Dativemeinen netten Männernmeinen schlauen Frauenmeinen kleinen Haustieren
Genitivemeiner netten Männermeiner schlauen Frauenmeiner kleinen Haustiere

Notice in the following example sentences how the adjective ending changes depending on its grammatical role.


  • Guter Kaffee ist unbezahlbar. (Good coffee is priceless.) - Masculine
  • Schöne Frauen lesen. (Beautiful women read.) - Feminine
  • Kleine Kinder spielen gern. (Small children like to play.) - Neuter


  • Ich gucke gute Filme. (I’m watching good movies.) - Masculine
  • Ich liebe rosa Taschen. (I love pink bags.) - Feminine
  • Du hast alberne Probleme. (You have silly problems.) - Neuter


  • Ich schenke nur netten Männern Blumen. (I only give flowers to nice men.) - Masculine
  • Ich helfe neuen Kolleginnen immer. (I always help new colleagues.) - Feminine
  • Ich bin nett zu kleinen Kindern (I’m nice to little kids.) - Neuter


  • Dank meines großen Bruders habe ich wieder ein Zuhause. (Thanks to my big brother, I have a home again) - Masculine
  • Aufgrund guter Musik entspanne ich mich. (Because of good music, I relax.) - Feminine
  • Dank vieler kleiner Vögel bin ich so glücklich. (Thanks to many little birds, I’m happy.) - Neuter

Weak German adjective endings

"Weak" German adjective endings are used when the adjective is preceded by a determiner or definite article that already provides clear information about the case, gender, or numerus of the noun.

In that case, the adjective ending doesn't need to supply as much grammatical information, as it's already evident from the context. Thus, weak adjective endings are more streamlined than their strong counterparts.

SingularNominativeder nette Manndie schlaue Fraudas kleine Haustier
Accusativeden netten Manndie schlaue Fraudas kleine Haustier
Dativedem netten Mannder schlauen Fraudem kleinen Haustier
Genitivedes netten Mannesder schlauen Fraudes kleinen Haustiers
PluralNominativedie netten Männerdie schlauen Frauendie kleinen Haustiere
Accusativedie netten Männerdie schlauen Frauendie kleinen Haustiere
Dativeden netten Männernden schlauen Frauenden kleinen Haustieren
Genitiveder netten Männerder schlauen Frauender kleinen Haustiere

Example sentences


  • Der gute Kaffee ist unbezahlbar. (The good coffee is priceless.) - Masculine
  • Die schöne Frau liest. (The beautiful woman reads.) - Feminine
  • Die kleinen Kinder spielen gern. (The small children like to play.) - Neuter


  • Ich gucke einen guten Film. (I’m watching a good movie.) - Masculine
  • Ich nehme die rosa Tasche. (I’m taking the pink bag.) - Feminine
  • Du hast ein kleines Problem. (You have a small problem.) - Neuter


  • Ich schenke dem netten Mann eine Blume. (I give a flower to the nice man.) - Masculine
  • Ich helfe der neuen Kollegin. (I’m helping the new colleague.) - Feminine
  • Ich bin nett zu dem kleinen Kind. (I’m nice to the little child.) - Neuter


  • Dank dem großen Bruder habe ich wieder ein Zuhause. (Thanks to the big brother, I have a home again) - Masculine
  • Aufgrund der guten Musik entspanne ich mich. (Because of good music, I relax.) - Feminine
  • Wegen des kleinen Vogels bin ich glücklich. (Because of the small bird, I’m happy.) - Neuter

Mixed German adjective endings

"Mixed" adjective endings come into play when preceded by an indefinite or negative article, like "ein" or "kein". These articles give some, but not all, grammatical cues.

SingularNominativekein schlechter Tagkeine gute Ideekein leichtes Schicksal
Accusativekeinen schlechten Tagkeine gute Ideekein leichtes Schicksal
Dativekeinem schlechten Tagkeiner guten Ideekeinem leichten Schicksal
GenitiveKeines schlechten Tageskeiner guten Ideekeines leichten Schicksals
PluralNominativekeine schlechten Tagekeine guten Ideenkeine leichten Schicksale
Accusativekeine schlechten Tagekeine guten Ideenkeine leichten Schicksale
Dativekeiner schlechten Tagekeinen guten Ideenkeinen leichten Schicksalen
Genitivekeiner schlechten Tagekeinen guten Ideenkeiner leichten Schicksale

Example sentences


  • Kein schlechter Tag geht ewig. (No bad day lasts forever.) - Masculine
  • Keine gute Idee kommt von Nichtstun. (No good idea comes from doing nothing.) - Feminine
  • Kein leichtes Schicksal hat mich geprägt. (No easy fate has shaped me.) - Neuter


  • Ich hatte keinen schlechten Tag. (I didn't have a bad day.) - Masculine
  • Ich hatte noch keine gute Idee. (I didn’t have a good idea, yet.) - Feminine
  • Er hatte kein leichtes Schicksal. (He had no easy fate.) - Neuter


  • Ich habe noch keinem alten Mann geholfen. (I haven’t helped an old man, yet.) - Masculine
  • Ich habe noch keiner so jungen Patientin zugehört. (I have not yet listened to such a young patient) - Feminine
  • Ich habe keinem kleinen Kind das Spielzeug gegeben. (I didn't give the toy to a little child.) - Neuter


  • Please note that the genitive case with "kein" is not typically used.

Still here?

Navigating the intricacies of German adjective endings is one of the most confusing aspects of learning German. So if you haven’t run off to look for a less confusing language, and you’re still with me, I take my hat off to you!

Some of these declensions are just hard to understand but with time, you will develop a feeling for them. One of the best ways to do that is by reading many, many example sentences.

So head on over to our German language blog, your free source of interesting German reading material full of colorful descriptions and creative adjectives.

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