Suppose I want to say a phrase like:

Der 1749 in Frankfurt am Main geboren(e) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe gilt neben seinem etwas jüngeren Zeitgenossen Friedrich Schiller als Inbegriff des deutschen Literaturschaffenden.

Could someone explain how the declension of geboren was determined in the above? I believe the noun is a name "John... Goethe" , so how do I declining then?

  • Every PP can be used as an adjective. Example: "essen" -> "gegessen" -> "der gegessene Kuchen". Their declension goes like "schön", i.e. "des gegessenen Kuchens" (like "der schöne Wald"). Like with "schön", those PP-adjectives end in -n, and hence get a -e added in the definite form nominative. In the indefinite form, it is -er of course: "ein schöner Wald", "ein gegessener Kuchen". Nov 22, 2023 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


Geboren(e) is a perfect participle (Partizip II), but here it simply acts as an adjective. How an adjective is declined depends on whether an article is present or not.

Here we have an article (Der ... geborene), so weak adjective declension applies. Whether the adjective is followed by a name or some other kind of noun is completely irrelevant.

  • This is like shifting the goal post, then how I know "der" is the correct definite article? Nov 22, 2023 at 4:20
  • Since Geothe is a single man and also the subject of the sentence, we have nominative masculine singular. The article for nominative masculine singular is der.
    – RHa
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:30

"geboren" is the Partizip Perfekt of "gebären", which means "to bear (life)" or "to give birth". Partizipien can be used like Adjektive:

stehlen (to steal) - das gestohlene Gut
bewegen (to move) - das bewegte Fahrzeug

Therefore, der [...] geborene [...] Goethe simply states a trait of Goethe: to be born (in 1749 and in a town named Frankfurt am Main). Hence, normal rules of the declension of Adjektiva apply.

  • 1
    The title is confusing since it asks about declining the name, not the adjective.
    – RDBury
    Nov 21, 2023 at 13:25

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