As used in the following sentence,* is fast ununterbrochen an adjectival or adverbial phrase?

Auf dem Tisch lagen, hochaufgeschichtet, verschiedene Dokumente welche der Offizier zuerst mit der Feder in der Hand überflog, um sie dann den beiden anderen zu reichen, die bald lasen, bald exzerpierten, bald in ihre Aktentaschen einlegten, wenn nicht gerade der eine, der fast ununterbrochen ein kleines Geräusch mit den Zähnen vollführte, seinem Kollegen etwas in ein Protokoll diktierte.

*From Kafka's Der Verschollene.

Because the phrase is not declined for Geräusch (we don't have, for example, ein kleines, fast ununterbrochenes Geräusch) I would have thought it was adverbial.

But at least in English, we have such paradigms as,

many a good man

good enough an idea

in which certain adjectives (or adjectival phrases) may precede an indefinite article.

As to the second example, we may say that it is enough that does the trick or that

adjective + enough + a (an) + noun

is a "permitted" sequence.

Likewise I wondered whether

fast + adjective + ein (etc.) + noun

may not be specially "permitted" in German.

Incidentally I refrained from giving solch ein liebes Kind or such a dear child as a paradigm because it wasn't clear to me that solch or such so used was an adjective or adverb.

  • 1
    many a == manch ein
    – Em1
    Jun 22, 2015 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


No, the adjective cannot precede the article. Since I am not a grammarian I might just not be able to think of an example, but I think the fact that these constructions surprised me when I first encountered them in English is a good indication that they do not have German counterparts.

And as you already noticed “fast ununterbrochen” in the first example refers most likely to “vollführte”. It can also be understood to refer to “der eine”, but not to “Geräusch”.


"fast ununterbrochen" definitely modifies the verb as an adverb, not the noun as an adjective, so it has nothing to with the noun phrase and is irrelevant to the problem.

The answer to your question is simply no. There are no German constructions that correspond to "many a day" or "good enough a try", i.e. inflected adjectives preceding their neighbour article. Only the particles you cited (such as "manch") can occupy that position within a noun phrase.

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