I just watched a youtube video. At 0:27, he says:

So, hast du schon irgendwas sehr Peinliches gemacht, wo du.....

My question is: why do we have to start "peinlich" with a capital letter? It is an adjective here. Also, why it ends with -s? Is it because of adjective ending?

  • 1
    One could (just barely) parse "Hast du schon irgendetwas peinlich gemacht?", namely either with peinlich used adverbially ("Have you done anthing in an awkward way?") or denoting the result of "machen" ("Is there anything that you made awkward (=turned into a state of being an awkward thing)?"); here, the weird construction "etwas peinlich machen" would be parallel to "Holz klein hacken", "Draht krumm biegen", "die Flasche leer trinken". But neither of these two interpretations would make sense. Feb 26, 2019 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


What you see here is what is called Substantivierung - An adjective is elevated to a noun (dt: Substantiv)

das Peinliche

("the embarrassing") is used as a noun in the sentence (after all, it is the object of the sentence) and thus has to be capitalised.

The -s suffix is used in your example because of the "etwas" which enforces mixed declension.

  • 3
    @Dennis: Please not that even when using an adjective as adjective (and not as substantive) the endings of the adjective may change: The endings change in the case that the adjectives are describing a substantive (but without using the verb "sein"). Example: "Die Kleider sind peinlich." (use of the verb "sein"), but: "Er hat die peinlichen Kleider angezogen." Feb 26, 2019 at 6:59
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    But note that no capitalization takes place when there is an implied substantive, e.g.: Ich habe das hübsche Kleid angezogen, das peinliche habe ich zu Hause gelassen.
    – RHa
    Feb 26, 2019 at 7:57
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    @rha I was already afraid that my answer had too much information for the level of the question...
    – tofro
    Feb 26, 2019 at 7:59
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    @IlmariKaronen Well, you could get rid of the "anything" - in that case, there's not much difference to German - Think about the book "The Shining", for example.
    – tofro
    Feb 26, 2019 at 10:17
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    @tofro That's a totally different usage. Etwas Kaffee cannot be a lot of coffee, it's some coffee. Etwas Peinliches can be a whole lot of embarassing, it's something embarassing.
    – sgf
    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:56

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