German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Adjectives are divided into three classes according to the presence/absence of an article. But I don't understand why a certain adjective does not simply take the ending of the noun it refers to or that of the article. Why a separate declension for adjectives, which may be misleading (for ex. der liebe Vater and not der lieber Vater, which to me is more spontaneous) is necessary?

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by elena, Emanuel, teylyn, Baz, chirlu Jun 14 '13 at 19:00

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

So, "der lieber Mutter", "der guter Lehrer", "derin guterin Lehrerin", ... Did I understand you correctly? – Em1 Jun 9 '13 at 18:36
Well, not exactly. Mutter is feminine, and even though it ends in -er I one knows that it requires the feminine ending for an adjective, so it's easy to guess "die liebe Mutter". And this is because the feminine nominative singular article is "die". But since the masculine correspondent is "der", why not simply use its ending in every masculine nominative singular adjective? This is because German distinguishes among three classes of adj. according to the presence/absence of the article, so to avoid redundancy. But it comes more difficult to me, I guess some redundancy would help. – martina Jun 10 '13 at 8:06
Language is not constructed. It evolves naturally and it is the way it is. There is nothing to understand. You just have to accept it for what it is. If you want to know the historical evolution, then I suggest you edit your question in that regard and take out the parts that just express how pointless you think the inflection is... no offense... it is just a weird question as it stands now. – Emanuel Jun 10 '13 at 13:26
I don't think it's pointless, I just wanted to know what is the reason behind such visible missing correspondences. I know there are such things in my language too, and I don't know their reason, but studying another language you usually spot them. So apparently, no logical reason, simple historical development. – martina Jun 10 '13 at 15:30

This table shows an overview. You see if an article is used, it's not necessary to decline it again, the article does that already. But that's the only logical reason, it's historically developed.

share|improve this answer
Great conclusion :) Please consider to include at least a short excerpt from the content of the page you refer to. This is important as this page may not to be accessible in the future, or some users may not be able to get there at all. Thank you. – Takkat Jun 10 '13 at 15:20
[ ] gives us a table as well. But she just wanted to get a reason for those rules which at most a language historian can give. – äüö Jun 10 '13 at 15:32
Thank you. Indeed, I know that table. If there is the article you don't need to decline the adj as well. But this table refers only to those adjectives in the first class, namely those that follow the definite article. Things change with the indefinite one and where no article is present, and that is what puzzles me. – martina Jun 10 '13 at 15:34
Indefinite is not felt as strong as the definite case. Likely this is why one declines also the adjective in case of indefinite articles. In other words, definite articles have more power, especially in case of nominative. – äüö Jun 10 '13 at 15:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.