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Adjective declension in German

There are many factors to consider when declining German adjectives – But don’t panic! Berlino Schule is here to help you

Gute, guten, gutes, guter… do you ever find yourself wondering why the same adjective comes in so many forms? Adjectives are useful tools in a language since they can enrich a text or a speech. That’s why it’s important to know how to employ them. We are here to explain to you which things you should keep in mind when you use adjectives in German.

When should we decline adjectives?

To begin, adjectives should not always be declined. It depends on their position within the sentence. When they come after the noun (together with a verb), they are used in their basic form. For example:

Die Tasche ist blau. – The bag is blue.

Instead, if the adjective comes before the noun, it must be declined:

Die blaue Tasche. – The blue bag. 

 

How to decline adjectives

To determine which ending the adjective should get, you should consider these factors:

  • gender and number of the noun the adjective refers to
  • case (Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ, Genitiv)
  • what is in front of the adjective (definite article, indefinite article, no article…)

The last point, in particular, determines which one of the three possible declensions we should follow. In the following paragraph, we will show you these three declensions and when to use each one of them.

First declension

We use the first declension with definite articles: Der schwarze Tisch ist sehr schön.

Erste Deklination

This declension is also used with “dies…”, “welch…”, “jed…”, “all…”, “solch…” and “manch…”.

Ich mag diesen deutschen Kuchen.
Welches neue Geschäft liegt hier in der Nähe?
Ich liebe jedes italienische Gericht.
Manche billigen Sofas sind unbequem.
Solche einfachen Übungen sind für Anfänger ideal.

This first declension is pretty easy. In fact, in five cases the ending is E (they are highlighted in orange the table above), while in the remaining cases the ending is EN.

 

Second declension

The second declension is used with indefinite articles, with “kein…” and with possessive adjectives (e.g.: mein, dein, sein…).

Ich habe ein rotes Heft.
Mein rotes Heft ist auf dem Tisch.
Ich habe kein grünes Heft.

Zweite Deklination

Third declension

We use the third declension when there is no article in front of the adjective. This is also used if the adjective comes after a number, “viele”, “einige” or “andere”.

Julia hat lange Haare.
Wir haben zwei junge Töchter.
Ich schreibe viele/einige lange E-Mails.

Dritte Deklination

Let’s practice:

01. Das ist der neu…………….Deutschlehrer.

02. Die neu……………..Deutschlehrerin ist sehr nett.

03. In unserer Klasse ist eine neu………………………Schülerin.

04. Ich finde, gut………………..Freunde sind sehr wichtig.

05. Du musst vorsichtig sein, er ist noch ein klein………………Kind.

06. Er hat ein neu……………………Auto gekauft.

07. Sein neu…………………Auto steht vor der Haustür.

08. Meine klein…………………….Kinder gehen in den Kindergarten.

09. Die Adjektivdeklination mit bestimmt……………………….. Artikel kann ich schon gut.

10. Ich trinke gern deutsch………………….Wein.

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German Prepositions of time and place

In this article we will illustrate the most common German prepositions of time and place

German prepositions can be quite confusing when one first approaches them. Practice usually helps grasping the differences among them but, for the moment, we will try to explain this topic as easy as possible, so that you can immediately start learning.

Some German prepositions are always followed by the Akkusativ. These are: bis – durch – für – gegen – ohne – um – entlang.
Other prepositions are always followed by the Dativ: aus – bei – mit – seit – nach – von – zu – gegenüber.
There are also prepositions that can either be followed by the Akkusativ or by the Dativ. These are usually prepositions of place, and they follow this general rule:

Prepositions

Prepositions of time

AN + Dat. It is used with the days of the week (am Montag) and the parts of the day (am Vormittag), except for the night (in der Nacht).

IN + Dat. It is used with months (im Juli), seasons (im Sommer) and years (in 2021, im Jahr 2021). “In” can also be used to say “in a week”, “in a month” and so on: in einer Woche, in einem Monat.

INNERHALB + Gen. (within). E.g.: Ich schreibe dir innerhalb einer Woche. – I’ll write to you within a week.

ZU is used with feast days (zu Ostern, zu Weihnachten) and expressions like “zu dieser Zeit” and “zu jeder Zeit”.

FÜR + Akk. (for) indicates the duration: Für eine Stunde, für einen Monat, für drei Tage

VON + Dat … BIS + Akk. (from…to). E.g.: Von Montag bis Freitag. – From Monday to Friday. 

“Bis” can also be employed in expressions like: Bis bald! / Bis Montag! – See you soon! / See you on Monday!

ZWISCHEN + Dat. (between). E.g.: Zwischen dem 1. Januar und dem 1. Februar. – Between the 1st of January and the 1st of February.

WÄHREND + Gen (during). E.g.: Während dem Sommer habe ich viele Bücher gelesen. – During the summer I read a lot of books.

 

Um vs. Gegen

UM + Akk. (at). It is used to indicate what time it is. E.g.: Wir treffen uns um 19 Uhr. – We are meeting at 19.
GEGEN + Akk. (around). E.g.: Wir beginnen gegen 10 Uhr. – We begin around 10.

 

Vor and Nach

VOR + Dat.  (before). E.g.: Vor dem Deutschkurs habe ich Zeit zum Essen. – I have time to eat before the German course.
NACH + Dat (after). E.g.: Ich komme nach der Schule. – I’m coming after school.

 

Vor, Seit and Ab

VOR also means “ago” (always with Dativ). E.g.: Vor einer Woche hatte ich Fieber. – A week ago I had a temperature.

SEIT + Dat. (since/for). “Seit” is used to talk about an action that started in the past and that is not yet completed. E.g.: Ich lerne Spanisch seit zwei Monate. – I’ve been learning Spanish for two months.

Ich lerne Spanisch seit Januar – I’ve been learning Spanish since January.

AB + Dat. (from). It can also be used with the Akkusativ if it comes with no article. E.g.: Ab dem nächsten Monat/ ab nächsten Monat.

“Ab” is usually used for the future. We can’t say “Ich warte hier ab 15 Uhr” if it is 16.
It can also be employed to refer to the past, but only if the action is completed.

E.g.: Ab 1952 arbeitete er in Berlin. – From 1952 he worked in Berlin (but now he doesn’t).

 

Prepositions of place

The meaning 

IN (inside)

VOR (in front of)

HINTER (behind)

UNTER (under)

ÜBER (on – without contact)

AUF (on – with contact)

NEBEN (close to – without contact)

AN (next to – with contact)

ZWISCHEN (between)

All of these prepositions are used with the Dativ if they give a location (WO?), and with the Akkusativ if they give a direction (WOHIN?).

 

Dativ vs Akkusativ 

As we said before, prepositions of place often depend on whether there is a motion or not. We have to ask ourselves if the sentence answers the question WO? (where?) or WOHIN? (where to?).

IN + AKK Ich gehe in die Stadt. gehen = verb of motion, WOHIN?

IN + DAT Ich bin in der Stadt. sein = stative verb, WO? 

 

Prepositions of place that are always used with the accusative case.

DURCH + Akk. (through). E.g.: Sie wandern durch den Wald. – They’re walking through the woods.

ENTLANG + Akk. (along). E.g.: Wir spazieren diese Straße entlang. – We’re walking along this street.

UM + Akk. (around).

Wir sitzen um den Tisch. – We’re sitting around the table.
Das Restaurant ist um die Ecke. – The restaurant is around the corner.

GEGEN + Akk. (against). E.g.: Gegen die Mauer. – Against the wall.

 

Prepositions of place that are always used with the dative case.

AUS + Dat. (from). E.g.: Ich komme aus Italien. – I come from Italy.

ZU + Dat. (to). We find it in front of persons or professions to indicate a direction.

Ich gehe zu meiner Mutter. – I’m going to my mom’s house.
Er geht zu Lisa. – He’s going to Lisa’s house.
Ich gehe zum Arzt. – I’m going to the doctor’s.

If there is no motion involved (WO?) we use BEI (+ Dativ).

Ich bin bei meiner Mutter. – I’m at my mom’s house.
Er ist bei Lisa. – He is at Lisa’s house.
Ich bin beim Arzt. – I’m at the doctor’s.

ZU is also used with “Haus(e)”. In this case, though, it gives a location, and not a direction: Ich bin zu Hause. – I’m at home.
If we want to say “I’m going home”, we employ NACH instead: Ich gehe nach Hause.
NACH also belongs to the prepositions used with the Dativ. It always refers to a direction (WOHIN?). We employ it with those geographical names that come with no article (cities and towns, most countries, continents).

Ich fahre nach Berlin. – I’m going to Berlin.
Wir fahren nach Spanien. – We’re going to Spain.
Sie fliegen nach Asien. – They’re flying to Asia.

In these same cases, we use IN to give a location.

Ich bin in Rom. – I’m in Rome.
Wir sind in Frankreich. – We’re in France.
Sie sind in Europa. – They’re in Europe.

Prepositions of place that can either be used with the dative or with the accusative case.

Geographical names with article

IN + Akk. gives a direction.

Ich fahre in die Schweiz. – I’m going to Switzerland.
Wir fliegen in die USA. – We’re flying to the USA.
Ich fahre ins Ausland. – I’m going abroad.

IN + Dat. gives a location.

Ich bin in der Schweiz. – I’m in Switzerland.
Wir sind in den USA. – We’re in the USA.
Ich bin im Ausland. – I’m abroad.

 

Islands and open spaces

AUF + Akk. is used to give a direction.

Ich fliege auf die Insel Sylt. – I’m flying to Sylt island.
Wir gehen auf den Markt. – We’re going to the market.

AUF + Akk. is used to give a location.

Ich bin auf der Insel Sylt. – I’m on Sylt island.
Wir sind auf dem Markt. – We’re at the market.

 

Seas, oceans, lakes, rivers and beaches

AN + Akk. gives a direction. E.g. Ich gehe ans Meer. – I’m going to the seaside.

AN + Dat. gives a location. E.g. Ich habe ein Haus am Meer. – I have a house by the sea.

 

Let’s practice

Wohin möchtest du fahren/gehen? – Where would you like to go?

Make a list of the places you would like to visit, using the prepositions seen above.

E.g.: Ich möchte nach Paris fahren.

 

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The German Perfekt (perfect tense)

What is the Perfekt and how do we build it? Here we try to sum up everything you need to know about this tense.

The Perfekt, just like the Präteritum, is used to talk about something that happened in the past. In fact, the Perfekt and the Präteritum are often used interchangeably. You could say “Gestern habe ich ein Buch gekauft” or “Gestern kaufte ich ein Buch”. 
The meaning is always the same: “Yesterday I bought a book“.

However, Germans mainly use the Perfekt in everyday oral language, whereas in the written and formal language they prefer the Präteritum.

How to build the Perfekt

The perfect tense (Perfekt) is formed by an auxiliary verb and a past participle (Partizip II). The auxiliary verb can either be “haben” or “sein”, depending on the main verb, and it must be conjugated in the present tense (Präsens) according to the subject. Remember to put the past participle at the end of the sentence.

Ich habe eine E-Mail geschrieben. – I wrote an e-mail.
Sie ist nach Paris geflogen. – She flew to Paris.

Perfekt_rule

 

Past participle: weak, strong and mixed verbs

Weak verbs (schwache Verben)

Weak (regular) verbs build the Partizip II with the prefix GE and the suffix T. These should be added to the verb’s stem. For instance:

SAGEN – GESAGT
KAUFEN – GEKAUFT
LERNEN – GELERNT

If the stem ends in -T or -D we should add an E between the stem and the suffix T:

ARBEITEN – GEARBEITET
WARTEN – GEWARTET
REDEN – GEREDET

If the verb ends in -IEREN we do not use the prefix GE:

TELEFONIEREN – TELEFONIERT
FUNKTIONIEREN – FUNKTIONIERT

 

Strong verbs (starke Verben)

Moving on to strong verbs, their past participle does not follow a general rule. They add the prefix GE and they end in EN, but the stem often changes. For this reason, it is important to learn these verbs’ past participle by heart. A few examples:

FAHREN – GEFAHREN
GEHEN – GEGANGEN
BLEIBEN – GEBLIEBEN
HELFEN – GEHOLFEN
TRINKEN – GETRUNKEN

 

Mixed verbs (gemischte Verben)

Mixed verbs add the same prefix and suffix as regular verbs, but they change their stem:

BRINGEN – GEBRACHT
DENKEN – GEDACHT
WISSEN – GEWUSST
KENNEN – GEKANNT

 

Certain rules apply to both weak and strong verbs. For instance, when it comes to separable verbs, GE has to be put between the prefix and the root.

AUFRÄUMEN – AUFGERÄUMT (weak verb)
MITNEHMEN – MITGENOMMEN (strong verb)
EINSTEIGEN – EINGESTIEGEN (strong verb)

If the verb is non-separable (meaning that the verb has a prefix that never gets separated from it), we do not put GE:
VERSUCHEN – VERSUCHT (weak verb)
BESUCHEN – BESUCHT (weak verb)
UNTERNEHMEN – UNTERGENOMMEN (strong verb)

 

“Haben” or “sein”? Which auxiliary verb should we use?

In most cases, the Perfekt is built with “haben”. Nevertheless, verbs that indicate movement build the Perfekt with “sein”.

Ich bin nach Paris gefahren. – I went to Paris.
Er ist nach Hause gelaufen. – He walked home.
Wir sind zur Party gekommen. – We came to the party.

The same verbs can be used with “haben” when they have a direct object (Ich habe ein Auto gefahren – I drove my car), as well as when the focus is on the activity and not on the movement itself (Er hat eine Stunde gelaufen – He walked for an hour).

 

All reflexive verbs have “haben” as auxiliary verb.

Sie hat sich angezogen. – She got dressed.
Wir haben uns verirrt. – We got lost.

 

In addition, we should consider the verb’s transitivity. Transitive verbs (with direct object) build the perfect tense with “haben”, whereas intransitive verbs usually build it with “sein”.

Ich habe einen Apfel gegessen. – I ate an apple.
Ich bin geblieben. – I stayed.
Was ist passiert? – What happened?

Please note that the same verb can be used both as a transitive and as an intransitive verb.

Das Glas ist gebrochen. – The glass broke.
Ich habe das Glas gebrochen. – I broke the glass.

 

Was hast du gestern gemacht?

If you want to practice, try to list all the things you did yesterday. We gave you some examples.

  • Ich bin aufgestanden. – I got up.
  • Ich habe Brot mit Honig gegessen. – I ate bread with honey.

 

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Perfekt_modal verbs

The German Perfekt and modal verbs: gesagt or sagen?

Building the German Perfekt with modal verbs: the double infinitive

I had to say my name”…

Would you know how to translate this sentence into German? If the answer is no, you may want to keep reading this article. Sure, you can use the Präteritum and say “Ich wollte meinen Namen sagen”, but what if you want to use the Perfekt? In the following paragraphs, we will teach you how to conjugate modal verbs in the perfect tense. You will see, it is easier than you think!

 

A step back: the Perfekt

The perfect tense (Perfekt) is used to speak about an event that took place in the past. This tense is formed by combining an auxiliary verb and a past participle (Partizip II). The auxiliary verb can either be “haben” or “sein”, depending on the main verb, and it must be conjugated according to the subject.

Sie hat gegessen. – She ate.
Er ist nach London gefahren. – He went to London.

 

The Perfekt and modal verbs

Modal verbs can also be conjugated in the perfect tense. If the modal verb is used alone, we build the Perfekt with the auxiliary „haben” and the past participle of the modal verb, just like we have just seen. Again, the auxiliary has to be conjugated to agree with the subject.

Ich habe ein Glas Wasser gewollt. – I wanted a glass of water.
Sie hat Deutschland gemocht. – She liked Germany.

However, when there is no full verb in the sentence, we generally use the Präteritum of the modal verb.

Ich wollte ein Glas Wasser. – I wanted a glass of water.
Sie mochte Deutschland. – She liked Germany.

More often than not, a modal is used with another verb. In order to build the perfect tense, we use a specific structure called the double infinitive. Here is an example:

Ich habe nach Berlin fahren wollen. – I wanted to go to Berlin.

 

The Double Infinitive

Let’s go back to the sentence we were talking about in the first place.
Ich habe meinen Namen sagen müssen. – I had to say my name.

To conjugate modal verbs in the Perfekt, we still need the auxiliary “haben” (conjugated in accordance to the subject). The difference here is made by the two infinitives at the end of sentence. That is why we call this “double infinitive”. In particular, we should put the infinitive form of the main verb first and then the infinitive form of the modal verb.

Remember to always put the two infinitives at the end. If there are some complements, these should be put between the auxiliary and the two infinitives or at the beginning of the sentence.

Ich habe meiner Mutter beim Hausputz helfen müssen. – I had to help my mother clean the house.
Gestern habe ich meiner Mutter beim Hausputz helfen müssen. – Yesterday I had to help my mother clean the house.

double_infinitive_rule

Let’s practice

Was hast du gestern machen müssen? – What did you have to do yesterday?
Und was hast du gestern machen wollen? – What did you want to do yesterday?
Try to answer these two questions using the double infinitive. You can make more than one sentence for each answer.

Examples:
Ich habe gestern lernen müssen. – Yesterday I had to study.
Ich habe gestern lesen wollen. – Yesterday I wanted to read.

 

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Konjunktiv II

The German Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) explained

Here is a guide to when and how to use the Konjunktiv II in German. Learn and start practicing with us.

Are you struggling to build sentences using the German Subjunktiv II? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. In this article we will teach you when to use the Konjunktiv II and how to build it.

First of all, you must remember that the Konjunktiv II is used to talk about hypothetical situations. It allows us to talk about our dreams and desires, but also to make suggestions or to soften a request.

Konjunktiv II rule

Here are a few examples:

Hätte ich Zeit, würde ich viele Bücher lesen. – If I had time, I would read a lot of books.
• Wir könnten ins Kino gehen – We could go to the cinema. (suggestion)
• Ich hätte gern ein Stück Torte – I would like a piece of cake. (kind request)

There are two ways to build the Konjunktiv II

1. If we want to build the Konjunktiv II of a verb, we start with the stem used in the Präteritum. Then we add the same endings used for the Präteritum.

Ich kaufte (Präteritum) –>  ich kaufte – du kauftest – er kaufte – wir kauften – ihr kauftet – sie kauften (Konjunktiv II)

As you may notice, the Konjunktiv II of weak verbs (like kaufen or sagen) ends up looking exactly like their Präteritum form. Strong verbs and mixed verbs, instead, add an Umlaut (where possible) to their Präteritum stem.

geben – gab – ich gäbe
bringen – brachte – ich brächte

However, for the majority of verbs, we usually don’t build the Konjuktiv II in this way. It is preferable to follow another structure instead (see point 2 below).

 

2. We can also build the Konjunktiv II with the auxiliary “werden”. We just need to learn its subjunctive form:

Ich würde
Du würdest
Er würde
Wir würden
Ihr würdet
Sie würden

Here is how most verbs build the Konjunktiv II:
Würden + infinitive

Ich würde gern eine Pizza essen. – I would like to eat a pizza
Sarah würde gern einen Hund adoptieren. – Sarah would like to adopt a dog.
Was würdest machen, wenn du viel Geld hättest? – What would you do if you had a lot of money?

 

Some verbs don’t build the Konjunktiv II with “würden”

When it comes to auxiliary (haben and sein) and modal verbs, we should use the first form. That means that in these cases we do not use “würde”. Please note that “wollen” and “sollen” do not want the Umlaut.

Ich hätte
• Ich wäre
• Ich möchte – ich könnte – ich dürfte – ich müsste – ich wollte – ich sollte

There are also a few irregular verbs, whose Konjunktiv II is often built starting from the Präteritum. These are:

• gehen – ging –> ich ginge
• kommen – kam –> ich käme
• wissen – wusste –> ich wüsste
• finden – fande –> ich fände
• lassen – ließ –> ich ließe
• schlafen – schlief –> ich schliefe

 

Konjunktiv II in the past

So far so good… now let’s move on the past form. There is nothing to be scared of, if you remember how to build the Perfekt. Instead of using the present form of the auxiliaries haben and sein, you just have to switch to their subjunctive form. For instance:

Perfekt: Ich habe mein Zimmer aufgeräumt. – I tidied up my room.
Konjunkitv II – past tense: Ich hätte mein Zimmer aufgeräumt, (wenn ich Zeit gehabt hätte). – I would have tidied up my room, (if I had had time).

Perfekt: Ich bin nach Paris geflogen. – I flew to Paris.
Konjunkitv II – past tense: Ich wäre nach Paris geflogen. – I would have flown to Paris.

 

Things get a little more complicated when you have to build the past tense of the Konjunktiv II with modals. In this case, you should use the following structure:

Hätten + infinitive + infinitive of the modal verb (hätten + double infinitive)

Ich hätte das Abendessen kochen müssen. – I should have cooked dinner.
Peter hätte nach Österreich fahren können. – Peter could have travelled to Austria.

 

It is important to remember that we should always use the auxiliary “haben”, even if we would have used “sein” for the Perfekt (see: “er ist gefahren” vs “er hätte fahren können”).

 

Let’s practice!

Was würdest du machen, wenn du reich wärst? – What would you do if you were rich?

Ich würde einen Urlaub auf den Malediven machen – I would go on vacation to the Maldives
Ich würde ein Haus am Meer kaufen – I would buy a house by the see

Und du? Was würdest du machen? And you? What would you do?
Try to list at least three things that you would do if you were rich.

 

Was würdest du tun, wenn du keine Angst hättest? – What would you do if you had no fear?

Ich würde in eine neue Stadt umziehen. – I would move to a new city.
Ich würde Bungee Jumping ausprobieren. – I would try bungee jumping.
Ich würde vor Publikum singen – I would sing in front of an audience.

Now try to list three things you would do if you had no fear.

 

Would you like to keep learning German?

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Berlino Schule has the best quality-price ratio (check the reviews online, 4.9/5 on Google and Facebook). Click here to access the calendar and reserve your place by simply sending an email to info@berlinoschule.com.

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