I often hear "Guet Nacht!" in the evening, whereas I would expect "Gueti Nacht!" as Nacht is feminine. How so?

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    I may add that "Gut Nacht" (instead of "Gute Nacht") is also the usual form to wish a good night in Southern Germany. - My explanation would be that, as the term is used so frequently, the suffix "-e" is being ommitted for lazyness (or call it efficiency). Note that you find this also in proverbs: Gut Ding will Weile haben (instead of "gutes") all over the German speaking part of the world. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


Endingless adjective attributes are an archaism. They are preserved in idioms, names, or composites:

  • auf gut Glück (instead of: auf gutes Glück)
  • unser täglich Brot (instead of: unser tägliches Brot)
  • Gutmensch (instead of: guter Mensch)
  • Grossstadt (instead of: grosse Stadt)
  • gut Nacht (more commonly: gute Nacht)

This is exactly the same in Swiss German, even though some Swiss German adjective endigs differ from their standard German counterparts:

  • uf guet Glück (instead of: uf guets Glück)
  • Guetmönsch (instead of: guete Mönsch)
  • guet Nacht (instead of: gueti Nacht)

Note also that some Alemannic dialects (virtually all Swiss German dialects are Alemannic) may have grammaticalized some endingless forms in the paradigm of adjective declension:

  • guet Brot (Basel) vs. guets Brot (Berne)/gutes Brot (standard German)
  • der schön Turm (Berne/Zurich) vs. der schöni Turm (Zurich, variant)/der schena Turm (Mulhouse)/der schöne Turm (standard German)
  • d frisch Milch (Strasbourg) vs. di früschi Milch (Berne)/die frische Milch (standard German)

I do not know of any Alemannic dialect, though, that would have grammaticalized an endingless form for the strong adjective declension of the feminine singular. With other words, I do not know of any Alemannic dialect where cases like liebi Sarah (standard German: liebe Sarah) or gueti Nacht would default to be endingless. Of course, my knowledge is far from complete.

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    That's very helpful, thank you for taking the time to answer!
    – ndou
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 16:10

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