A phrase from a movie is

Der Wald ist die Urheimat dieses kleinen Kobolds.

Kobolds is Genitive case, there is an s at the end. The same for dieses. But why is it kleinen and not kleines?


2 Answers 2


If you are following some kind of rule that the adjective carries the ending of the determiner when no determiner (or a determiner with no ending) is present, you've hit on the one exception to that rule.

dieses selbstgebackene Brot
(ein) selbstgebackenes Brot

mit einer großen Anstrengung
mit (welch) großer Anstrengung

But in the genitive singular masculine and neuter, the adjective has -n, whereas determiners have -s (with some exceptions).

der Geruch des gerösteten Kaffees
der Geruch gerösteten Kaffees


That is because the adjective declination rules in German are somewhat complex. In short, as soon you have one strong ending on a determiner, the other possible places to put the strong ending get weak.

In your example, dies has the strong ending, and that means klein gets a weak ending.

Here's an explanation and a recipe.

If you follow that recipe, you will see that question #1 Is there an article is answered yes, and question #2 Is article in original form is answered no, which leads to the -en adjective ending.

Most of the time, it boils down to those two questions so practice that a lot. After a while, you don't have to think about it any more. Go on with practising the other two questions then.

  • 2
    The general principle is called "declension sharing", or at least that's what I call it. Definite articles are fully declined so adjectives following them don't need to be. Grammar books don't explain this and instead make learners memorize a table with 48 entries: (masc., fem., neut., plural) x (nom., acc., dat., gen.) x (strong, weak, mixed). I decided not to do that so I started looking for a better system. Not that I came up with the system myself; though perhaps the English name for it is something I made up.
    – RDBury
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 10:56
  • 1
    PS. You should know that while nthuleen has some excellent learning materials, the recipe given is wrong for the strong genitive masculine and neuter. These combinations don't come up often so it's right 99% of the time. I emailed her about this but I have a feeling she's not maintaining the site anymore.
    – RDBury
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:15
  • 1
    You mean e.g. Wir gedenken großen Unheils. Yes, that's a very specific corner case that doesn't come up very often.
    – Janka
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 13:26

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