Predicative vs Attributive Adjectives with “Hoch” and “höchsten “ as Examples
In my reading, I came across the following sentence: “Hohes Gericht, unser Grund-ge-setz Hat in Artikel 2, Absatz 2, Menschliches Leben zum höchsten Rechtsgut erklärt.” When I looked the word “Hohes” up online, it gave me “hoch” as the basic predicative adjective form, which is not declined, and the “hoh-“ form as the attributive adjective, which is declined to various declination endings (https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/hoch-und-hohe.1976437/). Because the above website is in German, I can’t really make much sense of it. The best I can make of it is that “hoch” is used after “be” but “hoh-“ is used before a noun, so we say “Hohes Gericht“ but “Das Haus ist hoch.” Is this interpretation correct?
Also, according to the above same website, the superlative forms for these two words “hoch” and “hoh-“ are also different: it’s “höchsten” for “hoch” but “höchste” for “hoh-.” If so, why is “höchsten” used instead of “höchste” in the above sentence “zum höchsten Rechtsgut”?
As a beginner of German, I feel under the water by the complexity of the German language. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Yes it it is complicated, especially for a non native german speaker. The infos of this website seems to be correct. We have predicative, adverbial and attributve adjectives.
Predicative adjectives: after "sein", "bleiben", "werden". There is no declination in this case. Examples: "Mein Freund ist interessant", "Meine Arbeit bleibt interessant", "Der Geburtstag wird interessant"
Adverbial Adjectives: After other verbs. No declination in this case. Examples: "Ich renne schnell", "Er taucht tief", " Er sprang hoch". (You see in thee last sentence, that the undeclined "hoch" is not only used after "sein".)
Attrributive adjectives: Are between the article and the noun. They get declined. Examples: "Ich steige in das große Flugzeug", "Er kauft sich ein schnelles Auto", "Wir sehen den hohen Turm".
Result: You are using "hoh" in the case of attributive adjectives.
Wow! This is incredibly helpful. So other than predicative and attributive adjectives, there is also this third category called "adverbial adjectives." It all makes sense now because I sure have come across adverbial adjectives in my self study, and I was confused why the adjectives were not changed to an adverbial form (as in "Ich kann es korreck sagen" and "Dass ist korreck"). So the native speaker who told me "hoch" in “Das Haus ist hoch" was an adverbial adjective actually confused adverbial with predicative adjectives. I'm sure glad I double-checked here because his explanation didn't quite make sense to me. Now it does. Thanks a bunch!!!
The best I can make of it is that “hoch” is used after “be” but “hoh-“ is used before a noun, so we say “Hohes Gericht“ but “Das Haus ist hoch.” Is this interpretation correct?
the superlative forms for these two words “hoch” and “hoh-“ are also different: it’s “höchsten” for “hoch” but “höchste” for “hoh-.”
Well, maybe, sort of :). The tricky thing here is that German, unlike English, doesn't have a one-word superlative predicative form:
It is high : Es ist hoch
It is higher : Es ist höher
It is highest : Es ist am höchsten
So actually the superlative predicative is formed by a sequence of preposition and definite article (glued together into "am") followed a weak dative form! But this is irrelevant to "zum höchsten Rechtsgut", which isn't a predicative form -- however, since "Rechtsgut" here is in the dative with an article, "höchsten" is the weak dative form, which happens to be the same one used for the predicative.
As a beginner of German, I feel under the water by the complexity of the German language.
Courage! Adjective declension is one of the most difficult aspects of German. It takes time to absorb the complexities, and it's helpful to take a two-pronged approach: as well as studying the grammar rules, listen and read a lot and you will eventually get a bit of an instinct for the appropriate ending.
Sorry, I just realized I had the two words "höchsten" and "höchste" reversed in my original question (it is now corrected). It's amazing you were able to figure out what I was trying to ask even though I asked it incorrectly! Your explanation makes perfect sense because I also suspected that "höchsten" instead of "höchste" was used probably had something to do with declension, but I was too dreaded to go into that. So the weak dative form "höchsten" should be used here because "Rechtsgut" is in the dative with an article, which happens to be the same as the predicative superlative "am höchsten." That totally explains my confusion.
Thanks for the encouragement. I was ready to give up when I first encountered the adjective declension topic, but it also fascinates me why Germans would make such an effort in making the fine distinctions. I agree the two-pronged approach would make most sense; the challenge is that German is not used as widely as English, so my exposure is rather limited. In fact, when I visited Frankfurt this September, I was making an effort to speak German buying a train ticket to Berlin, but the sales associate told me: "You know, you can just speak English." Well, so much for my German learning :P
Yes, the "Germans love speaking English" problem is a common one, but I found that once I hit a certain level it disappeared. In the meantime you can learn a lot just through input -- I started out with these podcasts. They're pitched at A2-B1 level which makes them a good stepping stone towards "standard" German content aimed at native speakers.
For adjectives specifically, I also used to use this app to drill the endings in context. Not the most thrilling game I've played, but it beats memorizing tables at least :).