„Was möchtest du denn an diesem schönen, sonnigen Tag machen? Hast du Lust, dass wir ein leckeres Eis essen gehen? Oder möchtest du lieber in die neue Ausstellung im Technischen Museum gehen?“
“What would you like to do on this beautiful, sunny day? Would you like to go out for delicious ice cream? Or would you rather go to the new exhibition at the Technical Museum?”
„Ach nein, die neue Ausstellung interessiert mich nicht so sehr. Was hältst du von Kino? Wir könnten uns doch den neuen Film mit Brad Pitt anschauen. Hast du Lust?“
“Oh no, I’m not that interested in the new exhibition. What do you think about the cinema? We could go and see the new film, starring Brad Pitt. Would you like to?”
Yes, yes, the declension of adjectives―a topic in German grammar that boggles the mind of all learners. It’s of three different types: 3 genera (masculine, feminine, and neuter), 4 cases (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive), and then the plural! That makes a total of 48 variations for declining an adjective in the German language! And one time, it’s declined, the next time, it’s not… how can you keep track of it all!
So, I can understand very well if you have problems with the declension of adjectives. And it’s also super unfair that native speakers never actually learn this at school. Well, that brings me to my tip on how to make adjective declension your friend.
Of course, it’s important to do exercises and understand the system behind it. And believe me, it’s actually quite logical because there are a few helpful tricks 😉 .
What I recommend to all my clients is: LISTEN – Listen to as much German as possible. It doesn’t matter if you understand it or not. The important thing is that you pick up the language unconsciously and thus develop a feeling for it.
I often see this with my clients. They live in Austria, Germany, or Switzerland and listen to the radio a lot or even watch a bit of TV. And they do it in German. They listen for about one hour or, at most, two hours a day (because it does get a bit tiring). This trains their listening comprehension, and they acquire the language unconsciously (language acquisition).
This is how we acquired our mother tongue as children. We listened to others and imitated what we heard. Little by little, we made fewer and fewer mistakes and understood better and better. Of course, this took many, many years. To avoid this, there are German lessons. Here you learn how the language works, how you can learn it fastest, and how to avoid mistakes.
If you spend a lot of time on the language beyond the lessons (by watching the news or listening to the radio), you will be in the best position to master the language in the shortest possible time. And if you have acquired a good listening comprehension and a feeling for German, then it doesn’t matter so much whether you know that it’s accusative or nominative. The only thing that matters is that the ending is correct. After all, you don’t want to become a linguist; you just want to understand and be understood. Isn‘t it?
Finally, I want to answer the question of when an adjective is declined and when it is not. Adjectives that come before a noun must be declined in German (e.g., der neuE Film). Adjectives that come after a noun or alone are not declined (e.g., Der Film ist neu).
But if you still need a little help with adjective declension, you are of course welcome to book a lesson with me. I’ll explain it to you in a simple and understandable way. The most important thing in learning German is practice. This is the only way to develop the automation that is so important when speaking.
I hope you have fun learning!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nina is an educationalist, certified teacher of German as a foreign language and has over a decade of experience teaching adults and children.
She teaches not only at the University of Vienna, but also at the UN and Schloss Krumbach International School. With her knowledge and empathy, she always succeeds in inspiring her clients to achieve their best.