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Adjectival Nouns

  • In English, adjectival nouns refer to collectives: the rich, the poor, the unemployed
  • In German, Adjectival nouns can refer to individuals.
  • Adjectival nouns take adjective endings as if followed by Mann, Frau, or Menschen.
Eine Alte (Frau) wohnt da drüben. An old woman lives over there.
Der Reiche (Mann) ist ihr Mann. The rich man is her husband.
Die wollen den Armen (Menschen) helfen. They want to help the poor.

Neuter Adjectival Nouns
  • designate abstract qualities
  • occur only in singular
  • normally follow indefinite pronouns etwas, nichts, viel, and wenig
etwas Herrliches something marvelous
nichts Neues nothing new
viel Gutes much that is good
wenig Interessantes little of interest

(Don't forget to CAPITALIZE — this is a NOUN PHRASE!)

* These nouns may also follow the definite article "das".

Schiller interessierte sich für das Schöne.
Schiller was interested in that which is beautiful.

Anne Frank sah immer das Gute.
Anne Frank always saw that which was good (the good in things).

Copyright © 2017 Will Lehman. All artwork copyright © 2017 Milo Schuman.