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Why does one write "nichts Gutes", "etwas Besseres" and so on. The rules imply they are nouns. Wiktionary says they obbey an ,,adjektivischer Deklination", there is no plural for them, etc.

But can one substantivize any adjective this way?

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Yes, you can substantivize any adjective that way: Nichts Schönes, alles Gute, etwas Herrliches - yet, there's an exception: "anderes". It's "etwas/nichts/manch anderes", used without a capital letter. As a general rule you can say that any adjective which follows those words AND doesn't explicitly refer to another word is substantivized:

Ich habe manch Schönes erlebt.

but

Ich habe manch schönes Haus gesehen.

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  • Ich wusste nicht über "anderes". Danke! – Anurag Kalia Apr 5 '13 at 9:49
  • Gern geschehen. – schlossblick Apr 6 '13 at 10:00
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    I have to disagree related to "anderes". According to Deutsche Rechtschreibung: Regeln und Wörterverzeichnis, §58, E4: "Wenn der Schreibende zum Ausdruck bringen will, dass das Zahladjektiv substantivisch gebraucht ist, kann er es nach § 57(1) auch großschreiben, zum Beispiel: Sie strebte etwas ganz Anderes an." (see also: duden.de/sprachwissen/rechtschreibregeln/… ) – John Smithers Apr 8 '13 at 13:22
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You can always substantivize adjectives or adverbs if you can:

  • either append "-heit" or "-keit" ("sauber" - "Sauberkeit")
  • or place a noun marker in front of it ("gut" - "das Gute")
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  • @c.p. Only „das Rote“. – Speravir Apr 2 '13 at 0:19
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    @c.p. "die Röte" would also be possible – sedden Apr 2 '13 at 7:05
  • After the tinny edit of the answer, I undersand now what you mean. However, the answer seems cyclic. Now the question is "when can you either append "-heit" or "-keit" OR or place a noun marker in front of it? – c.p. Apr 2 '13 at 22:07

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