I am still struggling sometimes to understand how it works with adjective endings. I already once asked a question about another expression and now I again found something I cannot explain. I don’t know which rule should I follow.

This is the sentence:

Für seine guten Leistungen überraschte ihn die Mutter mit einem neuen Fahrrad

My problem regards specifically the first part of the sentence Für seine guten Leistungen. I thought that since there is the preposition für, which just goes with accusative, I would need to write Für seinen guten Leistungen.

I add this picture, which is what I always follow when putting endings here and there. Which declension should my example follow? — First (prima) declension, second (seconda) or third (terza)?

  • I guess that the first one does not fit, maybe in the second one or the third one.
    The fact that before sein there is the preposition für confuses me.
  • It is second declension even though before sein there is für?
  • Or is it the third one because there is actually no article (der, die, das) in für sein[…] gut[…] (= preposition, possessive adjektiv, adjective)

Can someone explain me why the endings are -e and then -en?

Adjectives declination

  • 2
    Wiktionary: You are correct to expect accusative, which is "seine" for Plural Leistungen. And I hate to tell you that "that's just the way it is".
    – Stephie
    Jun 29, 2015 at 10:35
  • Possibly confusion with a male noun of n declension in singular: der Elefant, für seinen guten Elefanten. (No, I couldn't come up with an example that makes sense.) However, it is die Leistung, and Leistungen is its plural.
    – chirlu
    Jun 29, 2015 at 10:48
  • Maybe the key to clearing up the confusion here is that seine is not an adjective (but a possessive pronoun) and therefore does not follow adjective declension rules? Jun 29, 2015 at 11:25
  • 2
    @E.V.: In your table, it is the second declension (mein, dein, sein), accusative, right-hand (plural) side: meine ____en. Fits.
    – chirlu
    Jun 29, 2015 at 12:46
  • ok I can see it :) So even though before there is a FÜR it doesn´t change the fact that it is second declension! THANKS!!
    – E.V.
    Jun 29, 2015 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


It is Accusative Plural of "die gute Leistung", which is "die guten Leistungen".

The sentence would then already make sense:

Für die guten Leistungen überraschte ihn die Mutter mit einem neuen Fahrrad

But the sentence goes on to specify whose achievements: His achievements. So a possessive pronoun is being used, which is seine in this case (plural + accusative object guten Leistungen). The possessive pronoun is to be seen independent from the declension "Leistung", as it is not an adjective. It does, however, change to reflect number and case of the object. For example:

Für sein schönes Haus (Acc. sing.)
Für seine guten Leistungen (Acc. pl.)
An seinem runden Geburtstag (Dat. sing.)
An seinen runden Geburtstagen (Dat. pl.)

So the real pattern in this case is

Für seine [whatever, Accusative Pl.] überraschte ihn die Mutter mit einem neuen Fahrrad.

You could now replace [whatever] with

... guten Leistungen ...
... schönen Augen ...
... große Tapferkeit ...

  • @chirlu Sorry, added the "possessive pronoun" part later without removing the genitive thing I wrote first... Edit my answer. Jun 29, 2015 at 11:53
  • Is sein actually an adjective? ok possessive
    – E.V.
    Jun 29, 2015 at 12:34
  • 1
    @chirlu I actually mean it is not an adjective. It's a possessive pronoun (as the term "pro noun" implies, it is a word that replaces a noun). Articles also change depending on gender and number, still they are not adjectives :-) What I mean is: "seine" is not an adjective to "Leistungen" as the OP thinks. If the sentence stated the person's name we wouldn't discuss this. Jun 29, 2015 at 12:47
  • 1
    @E.V. I hope my Latin helps me here, but doesn't "La mia casa" translate into "Die meine Haus" (so actually "Das meine Haus")? This looks like an adjective alright, but in German, this construction doesn't exist. I may be mistaken here, so somebody correct me, but a pronoun remains a pronoun and never suddenly becomes an adjective in German. You can say "Das ist mein Haus", but here, mein again replaces the person/institution the house belongs to. "É mia" translates into "Das gehört mir". "Es ist mein Eis" or "Es sind meine Rollschuhe" shows that of course it changes its number. Jun 29, 2015 at 13:05
  • 2
    @E.V. As I said "Das meine Haus" doesn't work in German. "Das grüne Haus", however, does, as "grün" is an adjective :-) "Quella casa" would translate into "dieses Haus", where "dieses" is called demonstrative pronoun (dieses, jenes, etc.). They can be used instead of the normal article (der, ein, die, eine, etc.) to put emphasis on something ("Ist das dieses Haus?", "Nein, es ist das [Haus] da drüben."). They behave like articles, though. Also, in German they are not adjectives :-D Jun 29, 2015 at 13:38

You are in the second declension. The head of your table tells you which environment the adjective is in. Your adjectives environment is:

  • Not on its own (third declension), because there is a für seine before it.

  • Not preceded by a definite article first declension — that would be e.g.

    Für die guten Leistungen.

  • It is the second declension, because of the seine (analogous to meine). (Seine is a possessive pronoun, and it actually reads tutti gli articoli possessivi in your table.)

Note that the entries of your table in the second declension’s column alread include the possessive pronoun (shown with mein[…]), so you can directly copy the pronoun’s declension from the way mein[…] is declensed. You can see that accusative plural requires meine, hence seine.

You cannot say that the gute Leistungen be independent of the seine — it would work in the plural, but does not in the singular with masculine and neuter nouns. Compare:

  • Für die guten Ergebnisse […]
    Für seine guten Ergebnisse […]

  • Für das gute Ergebnis […]
    Für sein gutes Ergebnis […]

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