Adjectives in Action

There are two main ways to use adjectives in German that parallel the ways adjectives are used in English:

Firstly, you can use them after some form of "sein" ("to be"), as in "Adjektive sind faszinierend" ("adjectives are fascinating"). This one is easy. Other verbs like "werden" ("to become") may be used in this context also. We call these "predicate adjectives" because they appear after the verb to give information about the subject.

Secondly, you can use adjectives directly before a noun, as in "die eifersüchtige Frau" ("the jealous woman/wife"). In this context, we call it an "attributive adjective" because it directly attributes some quality to the noun. These can be a little tricky because they require an extra adjective ending, typically "-e" or "-en."

These usages are illustrated in the table below.

 Predicate AdjectivesAttributive Adjectives

Sara ist arbeitslos.
Sara is unemployed.

Saras arbeitsloser Mann sucht einen Job.
Sara's unemployed husband is looking for a job.

Der Kunde wurde wütend.
The customer became angry.

Der wütende Kunde verließ den Laden.
The angry customer left the store.
3.Viele deutsche Wähler sind gut informiert.
Many German voters are well informed.
Informierte Wähler sind wichtig für eine Demokratie.
Informed voters are important for a democracy.

Depending on how advanced you are in German, you may want to delve into the wonders of adjective endings (for highly motivated, grammar-oriented or advanced students), or you may want to simply note that they have an "e" (or more) at the end and move on with your life (recommended for those in the first or second year of study). If you so desire, you can learn more about using adjective endings in Grimm Grammar (after der-wordsafter ein-wordswithout articles).

Comparisons using Adjectives
In the Alternate Forms tab, you can see the comparative (e.g. "gut" - "besser," "good" - "better") and superlative (e.g. "gut" - "am besten," "good" - "the best") forms of an adjective. German and English are similar in their uses of comparative; both languages add an "-er" ending to make comparative forms, for example: "wütend, wütender" ("angry, angrier"), "informiert, informierter" ("informed, more informed"), etc. The main difference is that English sometimes does not allow such an ending (e.g. *"stupider," *"informeder," *"loster"), but in German, the "-er" ending is always possible, and "more" does NOT appear with an adjective to convey the comparative meaning. There are a few more rules for German comparatives and superlatives (including some irregular forms) that you can read about in Grimm Grammar.