Unit 2: Cases, Present Tense

8. Adjectival Nouns

Word Formation

These sections of the textbook help improve your speed during the skimming phase of reading and gradually build vocabulary.

Many adjectives, particularly those expressing abstract ideas, can be formed into neuter nouns according to the pattern which follows below. These adjectival nouns get modified by adverbs rather than by adjectives, in agreement with the normal relationship of adverbs to adjectives, including adverbial usages of words such as viel (much) and nichts (nothing).

nichts Gutes nothing that (is / was) good
viel Interessantes (much / a lot) that (is / was) interesting
wenig Schönes little that (is / was) (beautiful / pretty / nice)
etwas Neues something that (is / was) new

The original adjectives, “gut,” “interessant,” “schön,” and “neu”, are capitalized and appear (for our current purposes) with an –es ending. By Unit 4 you’ll learn to recognize the other endings these adjectival nouns will get when they’re used in genitive and dative cases. Just remember that adjectival nouns are spelled – and take their own modifiers – as if they were modifying some (absent) neuter noun, but otherwise they function as that neuter noun.


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