As I understand it: to determine what ending the adjective would take, we need to know the case, number and gender of the noun it modifies. We know the case is accusative, because "guten Freunde" is the direct object of the verb "habe". We know the number is >1, because "Freunde" is a plural noun. And since adjectives modifying plural nouns get the same ending regardless of gender, we don't actually need to worry about the last part. Put it all together: the ending for adjectives modifying plural nouns in accusative case is -en.
Mind you, I'm just an amateur linguistics hobbyist, so my explanation might be full of holes. I hope it helps, and if I've made any mistakes, I would welcome any corrections. Thanks!
I have made a diagram http://imgur.com/vCH5jDH Based of this - http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html but in a more readible fashion (to me)
the ending for adjectives modifying plural nouns in accusative case is -en
This is not always correct. With mixed and weak inflection it is true, but with strong inflection the endings for adjectives modifying plural nouns in the accusative case is -e. For example: Ich habe neue Schuhe.
Take a look at the inflection tables here.
What I remind myself of is that with plurals, a normal indefinite article never makes sense. That is why the plural indefinite is always given as 'kein-' as that is the only case where this happens.
So if your sentence is not denying anything, there will not be an indefinite article, and the adjective is modified according to the generic article endings.
I have a different way to think about it: if the determiner ("the" "a" "this" "three" etc.) is strong, then the adjectives that follow it are weak. If the determiner is weak or absent, then the adjectives are strong.
"Strong" means they have the endings of der or dieser. "Weak" is a simpler pattern with just -e and -en.
In the instance above, keine is strong so guten takes the weak ending. But if you wanted "I have good friends" that would be Ich habe gute Freunde because now the adjective has to be strong.
I have a longer explanation (with charts) on my blog.
Freund - Friend, singular
Freunde - Friends
Freunden - Friends, dative case ("mit Freunden" = with friends)
Freundin - Female friend/girlfriend
Freundinnen - Female friends/girlfriends (2x'n', not 1).
Regarding Freundin/Freundinnen: If you'd notice the suffix -in makes the noun female. English doesn't generally have it since nouns are gender neuter but you can see something similar with "host"/"hostess", "god"/"goddess" "lion"/"lioness" (the -ess suffix comes from French)
'keine' does mean 'not a' for both feminine AND plural (in the accusative and nominative cases).
"Ich habe keine Katzen" - I have no cats - I don't have cats
"Ich habe keine Katze" - I have not a cat - I don't have a cat
"Ich habe die Katze nicht" - I have not the cat - I don't have the cat
"Ich habe die Katzen nicht" - I have not the cats - I don't have the cats
*EDIT: A couple more examples
Wow, I come from a language with 7 cases, but still got stuck for 5 minutes here... Can anybody give me an example of strong inflection NOT in plural? I can't think of anything. Because it's either mixed, "Ich habe (k)einen guten Freund", or weak, "Ich habe nicht diesen/den guten Freund". And checking the "criteria" here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_adjectives ...most of them are about plural (a number greater than one, viel, ein paar etc.)
WARNING: I am not native, this is my understanding and 'research', don't take this as an absolute truth.
Let's identify cases where we use strong inflection. I see a few options:
1. No article - a.k.a zero article/Nullartikel (please take my word with a grain of salt, not native and I've found it hard to find many references for this):
1.1. Plural - easy, not what you've asked for. "Ich habe gute Freunde" - "I have good friends"
1.2. Uncountable Nouns - "er isst gelben Schnee" - "He eats yellow snow"
1.3. Proper nouns - (e.g. Sarah, America, Microsoft..) "Müder Mike schläft" - "Tired Mike sleeps"
1.4. Title - "Er trifft böse Frau Adler" - "He meets angry Mrs Adler"
1.5. Styles - "General schwarzer Tod geht da" - General Black Death walks there
1.6. Professions - "Ich will ausgezeichneten Arzt werden " - "I want to be (an) excellent doctor" (German doesn't use articles before professions)
EDIT: This example is incorrect (See @Mauersegler comment below) because in German you normally add the article once you have an adjective in front of the profession.
1.7. Nouns after Quantity Information - "Ich möchte eine Tasse frischen Kaffee" - "I would like a cup of fresh coffee"
1.8. Abstractions - (Characteristics and feelings) - "Er hat dummen Mut" - "He has stupid courage"
1.9. Nationalities - "Bist du freudiger Deutscher?" - "Are you a happy German (man/boy)?"
1.10. For times - "Ich reise nächste Woche" - "I (will) travel next week"
2. Preceded by an invariable (non-inflectable) word:
ein bisschen/etwas - "Ich möchte [ein bisschen/etwas] schwarzen Pfeffer" - "I would like [a bit of/some] black pepper".
ein wenig - "jetzt enstehet ein wenig versteckte Scham" - "A little hidden shame arises" solch - "solch feiner Stoff" - "Such fine material"
ein paar - "Ich habe ein paar gute Freunde" - "I have a couple of good friends"
manch - "Ich habe manch gutes Buch" Yes, this is valid. This phrasing is similar to the archaic/poetic English phrasing "I have many a good book" (notice many a + singular*) which translates to - "I have many good books"
And more and more.... Notice some of my examples correlate with the rules under 1# (e.g. Emotions, uncountable, plural..), some by the nature of the invariable word used (e.g. ein paar - plural), other maybe just because of the specific example I got.
3. After non-article pronouns:
3.1. Interrogative - e.g. "Was/wessen bunter Hund?" - "What/whose colorful dog?" (Context: "Ein/Sein bunter Hund war hier")
3.2. The 'dessen' 'deren' Genitive case Relative Pronouns- "Ich mag das Haus, dessen wunderbares Bücherregal voll ist" - "I love the house whose (the house) wonderful bookshelf is full" (Notice that welches and welcher are considered articles and cause a weak inflection)
3.3 Personal Pronouns - "du armes Mädchen!" - "You poor girl!"
What is shared by all of these is the definition of Strong Inflection - Nothing that is considered an article precedes the adjective. There are more words that can introduce plural and singular words that aren't considered an article, of which I haven't written here (e.g. etlicher, etwelcher, mehrere, dergleichen, derlei, *-erlei, Indefinite Pronouns)
Additionally mixed inflection, in singular nominative case, looks like strong inflection (e.g. "ein großer Mann spricht"), but that wasn't your question.
English "Many a + singular": 1
This has taken me a long time and I have to run now, maybe I'll refine this post later.
Wow AsafH! A great research! May I correct small things (as a native speaker):
1.6. Ich will ein ausgezeichneter Arzt werden. - If you have an adjective in front of the profession, we normally use an article. ("Ich will ausgezeichneter Arzt werden" - It is possible, if you want to become a doctor with prizes!) 1.9. The same here: Bist du ein freudiger Deutscher. (Without "ein" I would stress on "freudiger".) "Are you a happy German" - I would translate it in: Bist du ein glücklicher Deutscher". 1.3. "Tired Mike sleeps" And again: "Der müde Mike schläft." "Der" because it's Mike. (Grammatically it's not wrong without the articles, but it sounds a little bit strange to us, literary.) "A little hidden shame arises" - Etwas versteckte Scham steigt auf. - Think about the rising sun.... Similar idea. (Your version:"jetzt enstehet ein wenig versteckte Scham" - Jetzt entsteht... Jetzt (now) is not in the English sentence. "Ich habe manch gutes Buch". But you can also say: "Ich habe manches gute Buch". "What colorful dog?" = Was für ein bunter Hund. (Sorry, I have no explanation, why we need "für ein", but perhaps you find a reason with your researches?) "I love the house whose (the house) wonderful bookshelf is full" = "Ich mag/liebe das Haus, dessen wunderbares Bücherregal voll ist."
I don't know, where you found your sentences, some are really strange. But your research is great!
Good remark, thanks! Could you stress the difference in structure/meaning between your example and mine?
In mine I had wrongfully omitted the article, then inflected ausgezeichnet to accusative male with strong infliction,resulting in -en ending.
Two things aren't clear for me in your example "Ich will ausgezeichneter Arzt werden":
1. Why is it fine to drop the article in this case?
2. Why did you inflict the adjective in a nominative case? Perhaps Arzt is the object for werden (and not for will) that uses nominative case? In that case my example wasn't good for another reason. If we'll replace werden with treffen what would happen? Would my example stick?
Re 1.9: Same here? i.e. nationalities, like professions, do receive the article when they have an adjective?
Re 1.3: So German would also add a definite article for someone's name when it has an adjective?
Re Scham: Right, 'now' is missing. I had meant arises in the sense of "appears" or "comes to be", is entstehen still not proper?
Re "Was/wessen bunter Hund?":
I meant "was" in a similar sense to "welches" (but that would cause weak infection afterwards which we weren't looking for).
That is, the sense of "Did you see my bag?"->"What bag?" (that is, I don't which bag are you talking about, was there a bag even here?).
Does that work in German or "was" cannot be used like that?
Re voll ist: fixed.
Yes, I had made up some of them, so they are somewhat odd combinations to demonstrate the strong inflection under the various constraints wasn't too easy :)
Thank you, I appreciate the feedback, especially the corrections! I will fix up the previous post once I understand the mistakes better.
"Ich will ausgezeichneter Arzt werden": 1. Why is it fine to drop the article in this case? It's weird, but I can't tell you a rule. I can only say, how I understand this sentence. I wouldn't use this sentence really, I would say: "Ich will ein Arzt mit Auszeichnung werden." Here "Auszeichnung" is decoration, honour, not excellence. But it's not a fault, if you use the an article. So the easiest way is to keep this: If you have an adjective in front of a noun, use an article: "Tired Mike sleeps" = Der müde Mike schläft. "He meets angry Mrs Adler" = Er trifft die böse Frau Adler. "I want to be (an) excellent doctor" = Ich will ein ausgezeichneter Arzt sein. "General Black Death walks there" = Da geht der General Schwarzer Tod. "He has stupid courage" = "Er hat einen dummen Mut" "Are you a happy German = " Bist du ein glücklicher Deutscher?
You are right with (no articles): 1.1. Plural - "Ich habe gute Freunde" - "I have good friends" 1.2. Uncountable Nouns - "er isst gelben Schnee" - "He eats yellow snow" ("Er isst den gelben Schnee" means ....this (special) yellow snow) 1.10. For times - "Ich reise nächste Woche" - "I (will) travel next week". (Aber: Ich reise in der nächsten Woche." - prp. + article or number - "In zwei Wochen", "Am (an dem) nächsten Sonntag....)
It doesn't mean, that omitting the articles is wrong, but it's literary!
Re Scham: I had meant arises in the sense of "appears" or "comes to be", is entstehen still not proper? If you use "entstehen", it is a fact: If you are naked in the street, shame arises. - Wenn du nackt auf der Straße bist, entsteht Scham". (Like "Ein Gebäude entsteht" - A building is rising".) If there is compassion, we prefer "aufsteigen": Grief is arising - "Trauer steigt auf".
"What/whose colorful dog?" - Welcher/wessen bunter Hund. You can't use "Was". It must be: "Was für ein bunter Hund?" Also for the exlamation: "Was für ein bunter Hund!" - "What a coloured dog!"
"I want to be (an) excellent doctor" - Ich will ein ausgezeichneter Arzt sein. I was thinking about it: Sorry, it's really finickiness and most of the Germans do not see any difference: So, use the article (with excellence and prizes) and everything will be fine!
And I forgot: You are right: "Der Arzt" is the object, so it's nominativ. By the way: "Ich will ein ausgezeichneter Arzt werden" - I want to become an excellent doctor. I want to meet an/the excellent doctor = Ich will einen/den ausgezeichneten Arzt treffen. (Acc.) You can't omit the article! Even not, if you want to be literary.
1.2. Uncountable Nouns - "er isst gelben Schnee" - "He eats yellow snow"
Ahha, ok, so "Er isst gelben Schnee" (S), "Er isst den gelben Schnee" (W) and "Er isst keinen gelben Schnee" -- in masculine Akkusative it's all the same, the difference is seen strongly with Dativ: "Mit gelbem Schnee" (S), "Mit dem gelben Schnee" (W) and "Mit keinem gelben Schnee"
I think this is what I wanted to achieve, seeing the clashing of "en" and "em", as in this example with plural we have "keine guten" which is not trivial
What may also be useful is to use this: http://nthuleen.com/teach/images/adjendflowchart.gif
I have this thing locked in my mind after my hours of practicing, and it allows me to easily get to the right inflection by simply moving to the right along the path.
FYI, original form means the nominative form here, which boils down to ein, eine, kein, keine, der, die or das. Also, only the form matters! Not the actual case! For example, the neutral akkusative indefinite article 'ein' will move all the way through the scheme to step 4, where it is obvious that it does not show gender (and these are the cases where you use -es/-er in the adjective to indicate it).
Study it for a while and it becomes fairly clear. I think its much easier to learn intuition through a scheme like this rather than think about weak/strong inflection.
Yes this chart is from the page I referenced above which is good.
However the question I was answering is not when to use strong inflection, but when will we see strong infliction with singular nouns (since they mostly have an article and therefore cause weak/mixed inflection).
As for your note with regards to the flowchart, notice the case does matter for the question "Is the article in original Form". e.g.:
Ich danke der guten Freundin (der is dative for 'die', and not the original form)
Ich bin der gute Freund (der is the original form for 'der', and shows gender - unlike 'ein')
Okay, fair point, I guess the logic needs a more specific note: within the same gender only the form matters, not the case. You changed genders through your example, and thats why they are different.
I guess for me it is intuitive with female words that der is not the 'original form' but formally it does break the rule I put up.
The English is correct, but it seems unnecessarily clunky. I would prefer: "I have no good friends". Says the same thing is far fewer words, and is also the more literal word for word translation. Why make the translation unnecessarily more wordy by saying "I do not have any good friends"?