Is here völlig adverbial oder an adjective ?

Would you agree with this example sentence :

Es gibt Grund zur Sorge, wenn man feststellt, dass die einschmeichelnden Reden von völligen Unbekannten die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung täuschen können.

I would tend to prefer

Es gibt Grund zur Sorge, wenn man feststellt, dass die einschmeichelnden Reden von völlig Unbekannten die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung täuschen können.

  • note, völliger Unsinn may be folly nonsense instead of full-on nonsense, thus a mean corruption of fool, while vollig sch... is fulla sh?t, further reduced to voll sch.. On another ote, I have recently heard for the first time das ist das ganze Gegenteil instead of ganz'm Gegenteil, so there may be precedent for *völliger unbekannter as well, that was someone from Saxony, Leipzig area I believe.
    – vectory
    Jul 26, 2021 at 3:51

2 Answers 2


You're right, it should be "von völlig Unbekannten". The adjective "völlig" further characterizes the quality "unbekannt" (unknown), not the persons who are meant by "die Unbekannten", and in German, like in English, an adverb or the adverbial form of an adjective is used to further qualify another adjective.

ein rot markiertes Buch => the book has a red marker
ein rotes markiertes Buch => the book is red and is marked somehow

It's a common mistake with native speakers. "Völlige Unbekannte" somehow sounds stronger than "völlig Unbekannte", the subtle difference can sometimes get lost in the heat of despise.

  • 1
    I guess you mean "with non-native speakers"?
    – DonHolgo
    Jul 22, 2021 at 8:43
  • @Don Holgo: No, in my experience Germans do this quite often, especially in spoken language.
    – HalvarF
    Jul 22, 2021 at 12:13
  • At least in this context, "völlig" is an adverb, not an adjective.
    – fdb
    Jul 24, 2021 at 10:37
  • 1
    @fdb, "völlig" is of Wortart adjective, and "völlig" is also its adverbial form, which is used here, it's an adverbially used adjective. I edited to make this clearer.
    – HalvarF
    Jul 24, 2021 at 11:28

ein völlig Unbekannter is right!

its an adjective:


Wie ist es?


Völlig unbekannt

  • What is an adjective? "völlig" or "unbekannt"? The way your question/answer pair is written, it appears you want to point out that "unbekannt" is an adjective, but while correct, that is not what the question is asking about. Jul 24, 2021 at 14:22

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