Easy German Adjectives

Beginning German learners usually learn basic common adjectives first, such as gut (good), schlecht (bad), schön (pretty), hässlich (ugly), neu (new), alt (old). But your knowledge of German adjectives could grow exponentially without much mental effort, if you used what you already know with some slight modications. Being aware of the following will help you learn a whole array of easy German adjectives.

  • Cognate Adjectives:

    The German language has a surprising large amount of cognate adjectives in English. They differ mostly by their suffixes. There are only slight differences between these adjectives in the two languages. Even if you don't remember these differences when speaking, the adjectives resemble one another so much, that a German speaker would understand what you are trying to say :
    (don't forget to switch the c to a k when writing them!)

    1. English adjectives ending in -al -> same in German
      For Example: diagonal, emotional, ideal, normal, national, original

    2. English adjectives ending in -ant -> same
      For Example: tolerant, interessant, elegant

    3. English adjectives ending in -ent -> same
      For Example: excellent, intelligent, kompetent

    4. English adjectives ending in -al -> -ell ending in German
      For Example: generell, individuell, offiziel, sensationell

    5. English Adjective ending in -ic or-,ical -> isch
      For Example: allergisch, analytisch, egoistisch, musikalisch

    6. English adjective ending in -ve -> -iv
      For Example:aktiv, intensiv, kreativ, passiv

    7. English adjective endings in -y, -ly, or -ally -> -lich or -ig
      For Example: freundlich, hungrig, persönlich, sportlich

  • Using Present and Past Participles as Adjectives:

    Though you need to know how to form participles to begin with, these are easily mastered. (See Participles) Basically one changes a present or past participle into an adjective simply by adding the appropriate case ending.

    For Example:
    The present participle of schlafen is schlafend.
    Das schlafende Kind - The sleeping child. (See Present Participle)

    The past participle of kochen is gekocht.
    Ein gekochtes Ei - The cooked egg. (See Past Participle)

  • Adjective Combinations:

    These types of adjectives give a nice punch to conversation and serve to further itensify and emphasize what you are trying to say. (Just make sure to not overuse them.) The easiest ones to remember are the ones that are a literal translation from English. There are several of them and are mostly adjective combinations with colors and some with animals:

    1. Color adjectives with ...

    2. dunkel (dark), hell (light) and blass (pale)etc.
      For Example: dunkelblau (dark blue), hellbraun (light brown), blassgelb (pale yellow)

    3. same-colored objects
      For Example: schneeweiß (snowwhite) rabenschwarz (ravenblack), blutrot (bloodred)

    4. Animal Adjective Combinations:

      Some of these are not at all expressed in English in the same way, nevertheless the visual picture associated with these adjectives make them easy to remember.

      aalglatt - to be smooth like an eel
      bärenstark - to be strong like a bear
      bienenfleissig - to be busy like a bee
      mausarm - to be as poor as a mouse
      hundemüde - to be dog-tired
      pudelnass - to be wet like a poodle
      wieselflink - to be as swift as a weasel