The other day, I said this to a German co-worker:

ich habe während gutem nährendem Essen überlebt.

He said that that sounded a little strange, and that I should use the weak form on the second adjective:

ich habe während gutem nährenden Essen überlebt.

This kind of makes intuitive sense: gutem points out the gender of the noun just like einem or diesem would. But I’d never heard that rule before, and neither of us could find anything on line to explicitly confirm or deny it.

Which version is preferable?

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Zwei -em-Endungen in Adjektiven hintereinander
    – guidot
    Oct 28, 2016 at 17:39
  • 2
    Re. possible duplicate: the other question is in German. See meta.german.stackexchange.com/questions/14/…
    – Stephie
    Oct 28, 2016 at 19:53
  • Bist Du über die Bedeutung sicher? "Ich habe mit gutem ... Essen überlebt" falls es um verirrt im Dschungel geht. "... gelebt" vielleicht, wenn es ein Kompliment werden soll. Während des Essens könnte man ein Erdbeben überleben. Ich habe das gute Essen überlebt, wenn es ein Pilzgericht war. Oct 29, 2016 at 0:41

3 Answers 3


The whole sentence is not very idiomatic. Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be bei (or: mit) gutem und nahrhaftem Essen. That said, no, nährenden would be wrong in this case, if the food is indeed both good and nourishing.


There used to be a Grammar rule (up around to the 1950s), that said in a nutshell:

Both forms are allowed. Use weak flexion in case the second adjective forms an idiomatic expression with the substantive (the adjectives cannot be connected with "und"), strong if not (and adjectives can be connected with "und").

(Duden 1935)

Ich trank ein Glas mit süssem, weissen Wein

Ich esse meine Weisswurst mit bayerischem süßen Senf.

(weisser Wein and süßer Senf considered an idiomatic expression, "mit süßem und weißen Wein" sounds odd)

Das Auto fährt mit unangemessenem hohem Tempo

You can easily say "unangemessenem und hohen Tempo")

This rule, however, does no longer show up in current grammars, so most mixed flexing today is, according to the books, not recommended or even invalid in such cases. But is still in use as you might have realised.

Modern grammars typically say: Both is O.K., but you should generally use strong/strong flexion, especially if the adjectives are connected by "und" or "aber" - Except in dative singular masculinum and neutrum, where you are generally allowed to choose.


He said that that sounded a little strange...

As Ingmar already wrote this is because the vocabulary used (während) is wrong — not because of the grammar.

Not knowing the intended meaning of this sentence it is only possible to guess which word is correct. Let's assume mit is correct …

Ich habe mit gutem, nährendem Essen überlebt.

According to the German grammar this is correct.

The comma in this case replaces the word und so you list multiple adjectives that describe the word Essen. You might also say:

Ich habe mit heißem, nahrhaftem, teurem Essen überlebt.

Because this is a list of adjectives of the same type all of them must have the same ending (-m) one single adjective would have.

You leave out the comma if replacing the comma by und would change the meaning of the sentence however the endings of the adjectives (-m) should be the same anyway.

A second possibility would be an adverb that describes another adjective: This means the word gut describs the word nahrhaft and not the word Essen. (In English you would use the word well instead of good in this case):

Ich habe mit gut nährendem Essen überlebt.

The adverb is placed in front of the adjective and the adjective has the same ending (-m) it would have without adverb.

Ich habe mit gutem nährenden Essen überlebt.

I must admit that many native speakers would say this. However I don’t think it is correct.

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