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German Adjectives as Nouns

Adjectives as Nouns

›Adjectives and participles can also be used as nouns.

›They then stand for people or abstract objects (things that you can‘t touch).

›They are really nouns but are declined like adjectives.

Examples:

  • „Ein fremder Mann klingelt an der Tür.“ =  „Ein Fremder klingelt an der Tür.“
  • „Ein obdachloser Mensch schläft auf der Straße.“ = „Ein Obdachloser schläft auf der Straße.“

Construction

Normal Sentence: Article + Adjective/Participle + Noun

  • „Sandra hat schon wieder einen neuen Freund.“

When using the adjective/participle as a noun, remove the original noun:

  • „Sandra hat schon wieder einen Neuen.“

We dropped the noun „Freund“ after the adjective because it´s obvious. Therefore the adjective becomes a noun and the first letter gets capitalized. Despite the fact that the adjective is a noun now it keeps its adjective declension.

The noun is only dropped when it´s obvious or universally known. Nouns like “Mensch”, “Frau” and “Mann” are dropped very often because most often we know who we are talking about.

Common Examples

Adjectives as Nouns

AdjectiveAdjective as NounAdjectiveAdjective as Noun
altder Altedummder Dumme
arbeitslosdie Arbeitslosegutdas Gute
bekanntder Bekanntekleindie Kleine
blonddie Blondeneudas Neue
bösedas Bösekrankder Kranke
deutschder Deutschetotdie Tote

Participles as Nouns

Present ParticipleParticiple as NounPast ParticipleParticiple as Noun
anwesendder Anwesendeangestelltder Angestellte
abwesenddie Abwesendebetrunkender Betrunkene
reisendder Reisendegefangendie Gefangene
vorsitzenddie Vorsitzendeprostituiertdie Prostituierte
überlebendder Überlebendevermisstder Vermisste
verletztdie Verletzte

*All endings according to Nominative Case

Summary

When adjectives or participles are used as nouns, the original noun (normally „Mann“, „Frau“, „Mensch“) is left out because it is obvious or universally known.

The adjective declension stays based on the article and case.

Further Information


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