I have troubles finding a rule (if there is any) regarding the declination of adjectives in Dativ, and the suffixes that they get.

I know that the articles will switch from der-die-das-die to dem-der-dem-den, or from ein-eine-ein to einem-einer-einem, but I'm not sure what happens with nouns and adjectives.

For example, let's say that we're talking about "mein alter Vater" or "meine alte Mutter". If I want to say that I'm coming with one of them, that would be "Ich komme mit meinem alten Vater", or "...meiner alten Mutter".

Is it a rule that the the article (or possessive pronoun in this case) always gets the "m-r-m-n" suffix, and the adjective gets the "-(e)n"? Could it happen in some case (with certain adjectives) that I can say "...mit mein altem Vater / meine alter Mutter"? What is the rule? Are there any exceptions? Or should I say - is there a rule about exceptions?


  • 2
    You will find some information here: german.stackexchange.com/questions/25357/… – Carsten S Sep 16 '20 at 14:12
  • I'm pretty sure "...mit mein altem Vater" is wrong; you inflect articles/possessive pronouns one way, adjectives a different way, and there's no mixing of the two when you have both. An adjective preceded by an article or possessive pronoun always gets an -(e)n ending in Dative. If there is no article etc. then you add the ending of the corresponding der word: (m) altem, (f) alter, (n) altem, (p) alten. Look up an adjective on Wiktionary to get a full table; there are 49 combinations in total. There are ways of simplifying that data though. – RDBury Sep 17 '20 at 11:01
  • Of course there are rules governing adjective declension in German (including dative), for example on the Wikipedia article about German grammar: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declension#Adjectives – RHa Sep 17 '20 at 18:26

No exception. No you can't say "mit meine alte Mutter" it must be "meiner alten Mutter" and definitely never "alter Mutter", the latter isn't even a thing (sex mismatch). And also never "dem altem Vater" it is "dem alten Vater". Now that latter one makes me wonder, it is a surface transformation not a deep structure. It is the article "der" which steals the "-m" from the adjective here. In some strange poem you if there was no article, and just "altem Vater die Hosen hochgezogen" it would probably be felt right even if it sounds truncated without the article.

PS: I am so glad I don't have to learn German declination.

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