I'm reading Franz Kafka's Die Verwandlung. The second sentence is: 'Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken [...]'. I think this sentence means 'He lied on his shell-like hard back [...]". In particular, 'panzerartig' seems to me as an adjective meaning shell-like ('panzer' + '-artig'). But if it's an adjective why doesn't it get an -en suffix like 'hart' does in order to agree with 'dem Rücken'? I would write this sentence as 'Er lag auf seinem panzerartigen harten Rücken [...]'; why is this wrong?

  • 2
    Hint: if an adjective is not inflected it is probably an adverb.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:52
  • So is it "hard-like-shell back"? Can 'panzerartig' be both adverb and adjective then?
    – user28927
    Jul 15, 2017 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


Sometimes it's small things that make a difference:

Sie wusch ihr künstliches blondes Haar.

She washed her artificial blonde hair.

Sie wusch ihr künstlich blondes Haar.

She washed her artificially blonde hair.

Similarily, in your example:

Er lag auf seinem panzerartig harten Rücken.

panzerartig describes hart, not the Rücken.

  • Can any adjective potentially be an adverb in German? (Sorry if this is a very stupid question...)
    – user28927
    Jul 15, 2017 at 1:03
  • 1
    I can't think of any which can't at the moment.
    – Janka
    Jul 15, 2017 at 1:04
  • 1
    @KilianFoth "Die dunkelrot gleißende Sonne ging unter". "Rot" works well as a modifier of a participle.
    – tofro
    Jul 15, 2017 at 8:32
  • 1
    @tofro Jedoch dunkelrot gleißend ist logisch unschlüssig und daher kein gutes Beispiel: Gleißend ist sehr, sehr hell. Dunkelrot ist aber eher... äh... dunkel. Jul 16, 2017 at 10:16
  • 2
    @ChristianGeiselmann Schon mal in eine Gießerei gekuckt?
    – tofro
    Jul 16, 2017 at 10:23

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