My favorite topic of German grammar is declension! 😉 Just the opposite to many German students… But, believe me, it is not as complex as many students think. In this post you can learn about my simplified declension method.
This is a complementary post about the German declension after certain adjectives, indefinite pronouns and numerals in order to clear your last doubts about this topic.
“Strong” vs. “weak” inflection
As occurs in other Germanic languages, in German we use these two adjectives with the following meaning:
Strong means a verb or ending has the “strength” to change a lot. In verbs it refers to the vowel change in present tense, Perfekt and Präteritum (example: ich nehme, du nimmst, ich nahm, ich habe genommen).
As to declension, it means the ending can have many different forms: großer, großes, große, großem, großen (the last letter makes it possible to define gender, case and number of the noun).
Weak means a verb or ending is so “weak/faint/inactive” it cannot change at all (referring to the root of a verb, example: ich mache, du machst; ich machte, ich habe gemacht) or it changes very little.
As to declension, it means there are only two possible endings: -e or -en (so we cannot define clearly what gender, case and number the noun is).
How do I know when to use the strong or weak ending?
The particularity of the German declension is that the adjective depends always on what type of article we use or if there is none.
Adjectives have the strong ending (-r, -s, -e, -m, -n), when preceded by
- the indefinite (ein, -e), negative (kein, -e) or possessive (mein, -e, dein, -e, etc.) article in nominative (das ist [k]ein schönes Auto),
- the indefinite/negative/possessive article in accusative feminine, neuter and plural
- or without article (er kam mit großem Hunger).
Adjectives have the weak ending (-e, -en), when preceded by
- the definite article (das schöne Auto gehört Hanna),
- the demonstrative articles dieser/jener (this/that),
- the interrogative pronoun welcher (which),
- the indefinite pronoun jeder (everyone),
- the indefinite/negative/possessive article in accusative masculine, dative and genitive (complete).
The adjective has also the strong (-r, -s, -e, -m, -n) ending after
- the adjectives viel/wenig: viel/wenig Gutes, viele gute Dinge,
- numerals in nominative (zwei große) and also after genitive/dative zweier, dreier, etc. (zweier großer Häuser),
- einige (plural!): einige gute Menschen,
- etliche(r/s): etlicher politischer Zündstoff, etliche gute Menschen, die Taten etlicher guter Menschen.
The adjective has also the weak (-e, -en) ending after
- the indefinite pronoun alles (singular)/alle (plural): alles Gute, alle guten Übungen,
- the indefinite pronoun manche(r/s) (some): mancher gute Vorsatz (in plural, also the strong ending is possible: manche ältere Leute),
- the indefinite pronoun solche(r/s) (such): solcher feine Stoff (in plural, also the strong ending is possible: solche gute Menschen),
- einiges (singular: einiges alte Gerümpel).