German Declension After Certain Words

My favorite topic of German grammar is declension! ­čśë Just the opposite of many German students… But 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 specific 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 as well, 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├Ąteritum (example: ich nehme, du nimmst, ich nahm, ich habe genommen).

As to declension, it means the ending can have many different forms: gro├čer, gro├čes, gro├če, gro├čem, gro├čen (the changing last letter makes it possible to define gender, case and number of the following 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 only hardly.

As to declension, it means there are only two possible endings: –e or –en (so we cannot define clearly which 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 which type of article we use or if there is none.

Adjectives have the strong endings (-r, -s, -e, -m, -n) after the

  • indefinite (ein/-e), negative (kein/-e) or possessive (mein/-e, dein/-e, etc.) article in nominative (das ist [k]ein sch├Ânes Auto),
  • indefinite (ein)/negative (kein)/possessive (mein) article in accusative feminine ([k]eine/meine neue Tasse) and neuter ([k]ein/mein neues Auto),
  • or without article, also called “zero article” (er kam mit gro├čem Hunger, ich brauche neue Schuhe).

Adjectives have the weak endings (-e, -en) after the

  • definite article (das sch├Âne Auto geh├Ârt Hanna),
  • negative (kein) and possessive (mein) article in plural (keine/meine neuen Sachen),
  • demonstrative articles dieser/jener (this/that),
  • interrogative pronoun welcher (which),
  • pronoun jeder (everyone),
  • indefinite/negative/possessive article in accusative masculine, dative and genitive (complete).

Special cases

The adjective has also the strong (-r, -s, -e, -m, -n) endings after

  • the numeral adjectives viel/wenig: viel/wenig Gutes (singular), viele gute Dinge (plural),
  • numerals (zwei gro├če), also after genitive/dative zweier, dreier, etc. (zweier gro├čer H├Ąuser),
  • mehrere,
  • einiger (masculine singular): einiger politischer Sinn; and einige (plural): einige gute Menschen,
  • etliche(r/s): etlicher politischer Z├╝ndstoff, etliche gute Menschen, die Taten etlicher guter Menschen.
  • manch (without ending): manch guter Vorsatz, manch gutes Buch.

The adjective has also the weak (-e, -en) ending after the

  • indefinite pronoun alle(r/s) (singular)/alle (plural): (nom./acc. sing.) alles Gute, (nom./acc. plur.) alle guten ├ťbungen, (genitive) alles/allen (neuen) Lebens
  • indefinite pronoun manche(r/s) (some): mancher gute Vorsatz (in plural, also the strong ending is possible: manche ├Ąltere Leute),
  • indefinite pronoun solche(r/s) (such): solcher feine Stoff (in plural, also the strong ending is possible: solche gute Menschen),
  • indefinite pronoun and numeral beide (both): beide gro├čen Gemeinschaften (but with article: die beiden gro├čen Gemeinschaften),
  • einiges (neuter singular): einiges alte (rare: altes) Ger├╝mpel.

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/ihr beiden (also: ihr beide), wir/ihr beiden jungen Leute
  • strong ending: wir alle, wir/sie/Sie beide (rare: wir beiden), (genitive:) unser/euer/ihrer beider