Making Adjectives from Verbs

In German (just as in English), the past participles of verbs (with the "-ed" ending in English) can be used as adjectives, known as "participial adjectives." Add an adjective ending when appropriate. Even a verb's present participle can be used as an adjective. This form of the verb is similar in meaning to English "ing"-forms, and is formed in German by adding a "d" (and an adjective ending, if necessary) to the infinitive form of the verb. Adjectives formed in this way apply to the type of frame element that would fill the subject role of the verb (e.g. "überraschend," "surprising" applies to a Stimulus).

Example: enttäuschen ("to disappoint"), überraschen ("to surprise") (normal use as verbs)

     Jens enttäuscht seine Mutter. ("Jens disappoints his mother.")

     Das Ende der Geschichte überrascht Lena. ("The end of the story surprises Lena.")

Adjectives from Past Participles: 

Example: enttäuschen ("to disappoint") > enttäuscht

     Seine Mutter war enttäuscht, dass er bei der Prüfung durchgefallen ist. ("His mother was disappointed that he failed the test.")

     Die enttäuschte Mutter weint. ("The disappointed mother cries.")

The way frame elements are realized with the verb determine what the adjective can be used to describe. Details are given in the table below.

Subject of VerbDirect ObjectAdjective applies to:Examples
Stimulus  Experiencer  Experiencer  aufgeregt ("worked up"), schockiert ("shocked"), enttäuscht ("disappointed")
Experiencer  Content or StimulusContent or Stimulusgefürchtet ("feared"), gehasst ("hated"), geliebt ("loved")

*Note that this is not the same as passive voice, which also uses a past participle. See Grimm Grammar for infomation about passive.

Adjectives from Present Participles:

Example: überraschen > überraschend ("surprising")

     Das Ende der Geschichte war überraschend. ("The end of the story was surprising.")

     Das war ein überraschendes Ende. ("That was a surprising ending.")