Der Words and ein Words
Der words are the definite articles (der, die, das) and any other adjectives that act like definite articles with nouns. They are called demonstrative adjectives.
Table 18-2. Der Words
You already know the ein words: ein, kein, mein, dein, sein, ihr, unser, euer, Ihr, and ihr. You need to compare these two groups of words in order to use adjective endings more accurately. To generalize, you can say that the most common adjective ending in German is –en. But when is an adjective ending something other than –en?
The nominative case (subject of the sentence) is the critical area. In this case, the gender of the noun has to be specified. When you use a definite article, that becomes quite clear: der Lehrer, die Lehrerin, das Kind. And when you use an adjective with the definite articles, it always has an –e ending in the nominative: der gute Lehrer (the good teacher), die nette Lehrerin (the nice teacher), das intelligente Kind (the intelligent child).
No matter which der word you use, the adjective ending will always be just an –e in the nominative case. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.
Table 18-3. Der Words in the Nominative Case
Since the feminine and neuter are identical in the nominative and accusative cases, you can assume that the same endings will apply in the accusative.
With ein words, gender is shown as an adjective ending, rather than by the article. The final sound of the definite article (der, die, da
Again, the feminine and neuter would be identical in the accusative case.
If you understand the idea that gender is shown in the der word when der words are used but is shown in the adjective when ein words are used, then you have a good grasp of German adjective endings. All other adjectives that follow der or ein words will end in –en.
Adjectives of plural nouns, whether used with der words or ein words, have an –en ending in all cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive.