Actually, the forms are rarely the same. You can look up strong and weak declension on the net.
Simply speaking, in German when an article or an adjective is present, somethinп MUST show the case/gender of the noun. If there is only the adjective, then it takes a corresponding form, with the same ending an article WOULD take in its place. They call it the "strong declension"
If there is a definite article, there are only two endings for the adjective, -e and -en. It is "gute" for singular Nominative and Accusative (except for masculine Accusative) and - en for everything else. I.e., the definite article already shows the role of the word in the sentence, so there is no need to double that by the adjective. "Weak declension"
If there is an ein-word before the noun (ein, kein, mein, euer,unser etc.) then it is the mix of two. Namely, you have it almost the same as the weak declension, but if the ein-word looks the same as in Nominative, then you have to use the strong form of the adjective.
Here, in this sentence you have "ein Freund". It is an ein-word, definitely. The form is just "ein", not "einem" or "einer", so you use the strong form. In this case it's Nominative Masculine "guter".
Had to eventually memorize this myself. In Russian the adjectives just agree with nouns no matter the position.
"ein guter Freund" is the Nominative Case form and not the Accusative, which would be "einen guten Freund" for the masculine Freund. That implies that we would translate the sentence as, "A good friend are you" to respect the subject and object of the sentence. Is this correct? Do Germans typically reverse their cases like this? Thanks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declension#Attributive_adjectives The 'ein' implies mixed inflection.
You should have really read the post above. In German adjectives and modifiers reflect the gender and case of the noun.
However, if there are is already the definite article (der/das/die/den...), the adjective only ever takes weak forms gute and guten. If there is an ein-word, you have a mixed declension.
In this example the indefinite article looks like "ein". That doesn't tell much about the gender or the case. So you decline the adjective into its "strong form", which is guter (masculine, Nominative). If the article were in "einen", "einem" etc. form, you'd use weak forms.
If you had the definite article the form would be "gute" according to the weak declension (der gute Freund/ das gute Spielzeug/die gute Freundin).
Two things to consider: When an adjective is positioned in front of a noun in German it will reflect the gender of that noun in some form or another. The ending added to the adjective will also depend on which grammatical case the noun is in ie what role does it perform in the sentence-subject/direct object/indirect object... In this case "Du bist ein guter Freund" you need to realise that "bist" comes from the verb "sein" "to be"-this verb cannot be followed by an object so we get a sentence which is du (nominative case) bist (verb) ein guter Freund (nominative case)-this is because the "du" and the "ein guter Freund" are the same thing/person-the verb "to be" acts like a mirror here. If you go back to previous posts on this thread you will find a number of good links which explain how the cases work in German. Remember that German is a really logical language following strict rules. Whilst building your sentences ask yourself-what word am I using? Is there a rule I should follow? Hope this helps
I wondered the same. Check out SimonDarey's comment in this thread.
Well, you can do so - if you want to annoy the germans you meet.
We know that our language is a rather difficult one and we like if people are trying to learn it and therefore we are (or at least try to be) very patient with learners. But if you just pick what you like and leave out the rest many germans may prefer you talking english to them than using half-baked german.
Sure, there are a lot of things we don't like in English, too. Sometimes we have the feeling that english lacks too many words to express oneself and sometimes we come across admirable words like "defenstrate".
Each language has its own history, its own focus.
Learning words or differentiations that do not exist in your own language can only broaden your mind.
Well, you'll have to learn them by heart. And one little remark: the words' genders aren't the same in all the languages using them. Sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are the opposite. E.g.: German and French:
- "der Mond"(masc.) = "la lune"(fem.) = "the moon"
- "die Sonne"(fem.) = "le soleil"(masc.) = "the sun"
My etymological background knowledge is not good enough to know why many languages have word-genders and others don't, but I know it would be very frustrating for you if you tried to learn vocabulary without the corresponding articles.
Of course, all these languages have more or less strict rules that could help you choose gender. But there are many different ones and I'm not sure if it really helps you now when your vocabulary is still so small that only 2 to 3 words would follow one rule...
If you are interested in these rules, follow these links: