Adjectives vs Adverbs


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Surprise! Much easier than in English!

Introduction

"Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache"…

"German language, hard language"...

If you’re learning German, chances are you’ve come across this saying at least once in your life.

It may sound surprising, but there are things in German that are easy to learn.

Turning adjectives into adverbs is one of them. Why? Let’s find out!

But first things first...

What are adjectives?

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. For example, the following words are adjectives:

  • gut (good)
  • schön (beautiful)
  • langsam (slow)

Adjectives can come after a verb or before a noun

   1) If they come after a verb, they don't change their form:

  • Das Leben ist gut. (Life is good.)
  • Deutsche Frauen sind schön. (German women are beautiful.)
  • Das Auto ist langsam. (The car is slow.)

   2) If they come right before a noun, they change their form to describe it: 

  • die gute Frau (the good woman)
  • schöner Mann (handsome man)
  • ein langsames Auto (a slow car)

You can form adjectives from verbs, nouns, or even other adjectives:

  • Verbs: danken (to thank) -> dankbar (thankful)
  • Nouns: die Person (person) -> persönlich (personal)
  • Adjectives: lieb (kind) -> lieblich (sweet/lovely/delightful)

What are adverbs?

Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, or even other adverbs:

  • Meine Mutter singt wünderschön. (My mother sings beautifully.) The adverb "wünderschön" (beautifully) describes the verb "singt" (sings).
  • Deutsche Frauen sind sehr schön. (German women are very beautiful.) The adverb "sehr" (very) describes the adjective "schön" (beautiful).
  • Du hast es so unfassbar gut gemacht. (You did it so incredibly well.) The adverb "unfassbar" (incredibly) describes the adverb "gut" (well).

Adverbs describe how, when, where and why something is done:

  • manner (gut - well): Du sprichst gut Deutsch. (You speak German well.)
  • time (gestern - yesterday): Das Wetter war gestern schön. (The weather was nice yesterday.)
  • place (hier - here): Wir rauchen hier nicht. (We don't smoke here.)
  • and reason (deshalb - therefore): Es regnet. Deshalb bleibe ich zuhause. (It rains. Therefore I'm staying at home.)

And now, just like we promised, we'll get to what's really easy to learn in German: 

Turning adjectives into adverbs

Why is it so easy?

Because adverbs coming from adjectives don't change form like they do in English! 

Adjective

Adverb

Mein Bruder ist gut.

My brother is good.

Mein Bruder macht alles gut.

My brother does everything well.

Er ist schön. 

He is beautiful.

Er schreibt schön.

He writes beautifully.

Die Frau ist langsam.

The woman is slow.

Die Frau fährt langsam.

The woman drives slowly.

Did you spot any difference between the adjectives and their corresponding adverbs in German? No? You're right! They're exactly the same!

So how do we tell adjectives and adverbs apart? Let's find out!

What is the difference between adjectives and adverbs?

  • Adjectives describe nouns, while adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
  • If the word comes after a linking verb, like bleiben (to stay), sein (to be), or werden (to become), then it's most likely an adjective. If it comes after any other verb, it's always an adverb:
    • Bleib gesund. (Stay healthy.) - The word "gesund" is an adjective.
    • Ich koche gesund. (I cook healthily.) - Here the word "gesund" is an adverb.
  • Adverbs never change form:
    • Was machst du hier? (What are you doing here?)
    • Hier bist du sicher. (Here you're safe.)
  • Adjectives love changing form:
    • Das Haus ist neu. (The house is new.)
    • Das neue Haus ist nicht schön. (The big house is not beautiful.)

Conclusion

Deutsche Sprache --- Schwere Sprache? Not this time!

Don't let adverbs or adjectives scare you! With time and exposure to the language, as well as our videos and Academy, you’ll tell them apart faster than the speed of cashiers in German supermarkets!

About Anja

Anja is the founder of “Learn German with Anja”, a YouTube channel with more than 50 million views and 700,000 subscribers. She is also the founder of the 3plus1-Method for brain-friendly language learning. A native German and speaker of four languages, Anja has lived on four different continents for more than a year. She has been passionate about education since her childhood and believes that education is indeed – as Nelson Mandela put it- the most powerful weapon to change the world.

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