Adjective Formation in German Grammar

How to Form German Adjectives

Some German adjectives can be formed by adding a suffix (ending) to nouns, verbs or even other adjectives.

Learn how to build German adjectives with Lingolia, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Forming German Adjectives from other Adjectives

Adding the suffix -lich to adjectives is similar to when we add -ish to words in English:

Example:
Das Kleid ist nicht richtig blau, aber es schimmert bläulichThe dress isn’t really blue, but it has a blue shimmer.
bläulich = blueish

Sometimes adding -lich to an adjective can completely change its meaning:

Example:
klein (= small) – kleinlich (= stingy, miserly)

Forming German Adjectives from Nouns

To make adjectives from nouns, we remove the noun ending (-ung, -ik, -e, etc.) and add an adjective ending.

The table below shows the typical endings we use to make adjectives from nouns:

Ending Noun Adjective Example
-lich die Feierfestival feierlichfestive eine feierliche Stimmunga festive mood
-ig der Schmutzdirt schmutzigdirty die schmutzige Wäschethe dirty laundry
-haft der Traumdream traumhaftwonderful ein traumhafter Abenda wonderful adventure
-sam die Müheeffort mühsamdifficult eine mühsame Arbeita difficult job
-isch EuropaEurope europäischEuropean ein europäisches Landa European country
-ern das Holzwood hölzernwooden eine hölzerne Brückea wooden bridge

Forming German Adjectives from Verbs

To make adjectives from German verbs, we remove the verb ending -en and add an adjective ending.

We can also use the participle forms of verbs as adjectives.

The table below shows some typical examples of adjectives made from verbs:

Ending Verb Adjective Example
-bar lösento solve lösbarsolvable eine lösbare Aufgabea solvable problem
-sam schweigento be silent schweigsamsilent ein schweigsames Kinda silent child
Partizip I fragento ask/question fragendquestioning ein fragender Blicka questioning look
Partizip II gefährdento endanger gefährdetendangered eine gefährdete Tierartan endangered species