Is there a reason we say Schweizer Schauspielerin as opposed to schweize Schauspielerin (note lower case)? I believe this has to do with adjectives based on cities always being capitalized and ending with -r (e.g. Berliner Mauer). But why is a country-based adjective behaving that way?

  • 2
    Just to clarify: Could you explain how you'd derive the (invalid) adjective "schweize" from Schweiz? (I automatically read it as "schweizer", assuming you're just asking about lower/upper case)
    – Mac
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:51
  • 8
    Note that this phenomenon is not limited to Schweiz, but also applies to Thüringen, Brandenburg, Tirol, Kärnten, Pfalz, and many more.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 1, 2017 at 11:37
  • 2
    As Mark Sitro commented, the adjective would be schweizerisch, which is used in the country name Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft for example. Regarding cities: there are also the adjectives hamburgisch, lübisch, köl(ni)sch and bremisch, referring to cities [though probably in their capacity as countries], so the case is not that clear cut here, either.
    – Chieron
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:01
  • Schweizer is a substantive. A (male) person from Schweiz. Something like schweizich oder schweizerich would be adjective, although I don't know if that is a real word. Dec 1, 2017 at 17:53
  • 3
    Because Schweiz is a proper noun, not an adjective. You can’t just add a case ending to a noun to make it an adjective. Conversely, englisch and deutsch are both adjectives, not proper nouns. Note how the corresponding names of the countries for those two are not *English and *Deutsch, either, but are (originally) compounds/phrases with the noun Land as their heads: Deutschland is ‘German land’; England (from earlier Englaland) is ‘land of the Angles’. Schweiz is completely incomparable to these two. Dec 2, 2017 at 0:57

5 Answers 5


The origin of the name "Schweiz" is indeed the name of the town "Schwyz" and the canton with the same name.

In the 14th century the Swiss people were actually called "Eidgenossen". After a battle (Schlacht bei Sempach) where soldiers from the canton "Schwyz" had an important part, a chronicler first called all "Eidgenossen" as "Schwyzer", short for "Schweizer Eidgenossen". And in the following centuries this name pushed through.

And that's why we have today

deutsche Schauspielerin
englische Schauspielerin


Schweizer Schauspielerin

  • 4
    Wir haben aber auch einen englischen Schauspieler aber eine englische Schauspielerin aber schweizerische Schauspielerin ist auch möglich.
    – Uwe
    Dec 1, 2017 at 21:12
  • Wir sagen auch Nürnberger Bratwürste, die nur in Nürnberg hergestellt werden. Aber Bratwürste aus Franken werden fränkische Bratwürste genannt.
    – Uwe
    Dec 3, 2017 at 21:52

This rule actually refers to "geographical names" rather than just cities - the capitalisation of "Schweizer" thus just follows the rules :)

D 90:

  1. Von geografischen Namen abgeleitete Wörter auf -er schreibt man immer groß <§ 61>.

    das Ulmer Münster
    eine Kölner Firma
    die Schweizer Uhrenindustrie
    die Wiener Kaffeehäuser

Edit: I apparently misunderstood the question at first. If it is indeed primarily concerned with why the "-er" derivation isn't restricted to cities' names, I'm afraid there's probably no firm rule. You'll just have to memorise the rather few instances.

Speculation: There might be a tendency for this derivation in the alpine regions:

Tirol -> Tiroler Berge
Allgäu -> Allgäuer Kässpätzle
Vorarlberg -> Vorarlberger Skilehrer
Schwarzwald -> Schwarzwälder Kuckucksuhren

but also: Thüringen -> Thüringer Rostbratwurst (although "thüringisch" is used for everything else besides these sausages)

  • 3
    I think the OP's question is why it is "deutsche Schauspielerin", "englische Schauspielerin" but "Schweizer Schauspielerin".
    – IQV
    Dec 1, 2017 at 9:47
  • 6
    So the answer is: "deutsch" and "englisch" weren't derived from a geographical name, i.e. do not consist of such a name + "-er". A Deutscher would be someone from Deutsch, but Deutsch is not a place. Dec 1, 2017 at 11:07
  • 2
    It's not speculation/tendency, it is as it is. deutsch and englisch are just adjectives. Tiroler is "${NAMEOFSOMETHING}er" - different rule.
    – AnoE
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:43
  • 2
    I doubt your speculation concerning the alpine region, see Sylter Deich, Harzer Käse (as well as Tilsit-er, Edam-er).
    – guidot
    Dec 1, 2017 at 15:36
  • 2
    @guidot Not to mention Engilsh London-er, Dublin-er, Danish København-er, Swedish Stockholm-are, Norwegian Ålesund-er, etc. Not only is it not limited to the Alpine region, it’s not limited to German at all—it’s common to nearly all Germanic languages. (Except maybe Icelandic; can’t think of any there.) Dec 2, 2017 at 1:13

Today, Schweizer is considered an adjective. However it does not possess any declension which points to its actual origin being a genitive plural of the noun Schweizer. This also is the reason why it is still capitalized. Thus Schweizer Schauspielerin actually meant "(der Schweizer) Schauspielerin" thus "Schauspielerin von den Schweizern".

Knowing this, it is helpful for writing fluid German to avoid ambiguities that may reactivate the original genitive. Thus writing "... der Schweizer Schauspielerin" is harder to read, as "der" may be genitive plural or genitive/dativ singular.

Within Switzerland, the adjective schweizerisch is preferred to Schweizer. The official name of Switzerland is Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Similarly Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung and not the Schweizer one &ct.


Sorry, not enough rep to comment. I think you can say "deutsche" und "englische" because it already ends with a "sch". "Schweiz" does not end with "sch" so it's not possible.

You could use "schweizerische Schauspielerin" which seems to be also correct. https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/schweizerisch

  • 2
    No, that is not the reason. A town like Windisch would lead to "Windischer Berge" (no idea if there is a town by that name, or if there are mountains around ;) ).
    – AnoE
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:45
  • There is a town called Windisch: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windisch_AG :P
    – Twometer
    Dec 2, 2017 at 16:38

Simple: If something is directly Made Up from a place Name, Like Schweizer from Schweiz, it's er, If it's Not, Like deutsche from deutsch (deutsch ist an adjective, Not a place), it's e

  • I don't get what you are trying to say. Can you edit your answer and clarify it?
    – Robert
    Dec 2, 2017 at 14:41
  • @Robert Ok, I Hope ist's okay now
    – Azrael
    Dec 2, 2017 at 15:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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