German declension after certain words - German Takeaways

German declension after certain words

My favorite topic of German grammar is declension! ūüėČ 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 Pr√§teritum (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 sch√∂nes Auto),
  • the indefinite/negative/possessive article in accusative feminine, neuter and plural
  • or without article (er kam mit gro√üem Hunger).

Adjectives have the weak ending (-e, -en), when preceded by

  • the definite article (das sch√∂ne Auto geh√∂rt 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).

Special cases

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 gro√üe) and also after genitive/dative zweier, dreier, etc. (zweier gro√üer H√§user),
  • einige (plural!): einige gute Menschen,
  • etliche(r/s): etlicher politischer Z√ľndstoff, 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 √úbungen,
  • the indefinite pronoun manche(r/s) (some): mancher gute Vorsatz (in plural, also the strong ending is possible: manche √§ltere 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 Ger√ľmpel).

Declension after personal pronouns

According to Duden, both options are possible after a personal pronoun depending on if an adjective follows or not.

  • weak ending (with adjective): wir bescheidenen Leute; wir Armen; wir Erwachsenen; wir Deutschen¬†(obsolete:¬†wir Deutsche); ihr geliebten Berge!; ihr Lieben
  • strong ending: wir alle, wir beide, (ihr Freunde)