Learning Adjective and Color Endings in German

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German adjectives, like English ones, usually go in front of the noun they modify: "der gute Mann" (the good man), "das große Haus" (the big house/building), "die schöne Dame" (the pretty lady).

Unlike English adjectives, a German adjective in front of a noun has to have an ending (-e in the examples above). Just what that ending will be depends on several factors, including gender (der, die, das) and case (nominative, accusative, dative).

But most of the time the ending is an -e or an -en (in the plural). With ein-words, the ending varies according to the modified noun's gender (see below).

Look at the following table for the adjective endings in the nominative (subject) case:

With definite article (der, die, das) - Nominative case

 
Masculine
der
Feminine
die
Neuter
das
Plural
die
der neu  Wagen
the new car
die schön Stadt
the beautiful city
das alt Auto
the old car
die neu Bücher
the new books
 


With indefinite article (eine, kein, mein) - Nom. case

 
Masculine
ein
Feminine
eine
Neuter
ein
Plural
keine
ein neu Wagen
a new car
eine schön Stadt
a beautiful city
ein alt Auto
an old car
keine neu Bücher
no new books
 

 

Note that with ein-words, since the article may not tell us the gender of the following noun, the adjective ending often does this instead (-es = das, -er = der; see above).

As in English, a German adjective can also come after the verb (predicate adjective): "Das Haus ist groß." (The house is large.) In such cases, the adjective will have NO ending.


Farben (Colors)

The German words for colors usually function as adjectives and take the normal adjective endings (but see exceptions below). In certain situations, colors can also be nouns and are thus capitalized: "eine Bluse in Blau" (a blouse in blue); "das Blaue vom Himmel versprechen" (to promise heaven and earth, lit., "the blue of the heavens").

The chart below shows some of the more common colors with sample phrases. You'll learn that the colors in "feeling blue" or "seeing red" may not mean the same thing in German. A black eye in German is " blau" (blue).

FarbeColorColor Phrases with Adjective Endings
rotredder rote Wagen (the red car), der Wagen ist rot
rosapinkdie rosa Rosen (the pink roses)*
blaublueein blaues Auge (a black eye), er ist blau (he's drunk)
hell-
blau
light
blue
die hellblaue Bluse (the light blue blouse)**
dunkel-
blau
dark
blue
die dunkelblaue Bluse (the dark blue blouse)
grüngreender grüne Hut (the green hat)
gelbyellowdie gelben Seiten (yellow pages), ein gelbes Auto
weißwhitedas weiße Papier (the white paper)
schwarzblackder schwarze Koffer (the black suitcase)
 
  *Colors ending in -a (lila, rosa) do not take the normal adjective endings. 
  **Light or dark colors are preceded by hell- (light) or dunkel- (dark), as in hellgrün (light green) or dunkelgrün (dark green).