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fun with n-declination

Hi chaps,

I've just been given this exercise, I've tried a couple of different answers but computer keeps saying "nein"... Anyone got any ideas/explanations?

Fill in the gaps:

"Diese karitative Organisation hilft politischen _ (gefangen, Pl.) und kümmert sich um aus dem Land ___ (vertrieben, Pl.)"


October 28, 2017



Hi ! Gefangenen, Vertriebenen


Hi Vincent,

Thanks for the speedy reply.

That's what I thought. Nominalised participles are subject to n-declination and in this case Gefangenen is in dative and Vertriebenen in accusative, right?

Computer says that it should be Gefangenen and Vertriebene. Is this a bug?


No, Gefangenen and Vertriebene (without -n) is correct. Can't explain grammar, though.


Offering the explanation to your answer (which I agree is correct):

Both blank spaces are nominalised participial adjectives ((past) participles of verbs acting as adjectives acting as nouns). Looking at each one separately:

Verb: fangen ("to catch")
Participle: gefangen ("caught")
As an adjective: gefangen ("imprisoned/captive")
Case required due to the sentence: dative (from verb helfen)
Gender: plural (given)
Is there an article: No
Adjective ending hence required: -en
Resulting noun: Gefangenen

Note that the nominalised adjective needs the same adjective ending as any normal adjectives preceding it.

Verb: vertreiben ("to drive out")
Participle: vertrieben ("driven out")
As an adjective: vertrieben ("displaced")
Case required due to the sentence: accusative (from preposition um)
Gender: plural (given)
Is there an article: No
Adjective ending hence required: -e
Resulting noun: Vertriebene

This is verified by Canoo.net.

To answer the original question about n-declination for nominalised adjectives, that does not happen as a rule. It may appear that way a lot of the time, but it's more likely just an -en adjective ending (there are a lot of combinations that produce that). But accusative plural without an article is not one of them.


Hi az_p,

Thanks for a great explanation!

Yep, that was my mistake. Nominalised adjectives, it turns out, do not demand n-declination!

Thanks for the help everyone.


PS here is the site I got the question from, in case anyone's interested. The exercises on it are really good:



Looks great :D It makes sense to have this formular like step-by-step go-through, so you've a landmark in the grammar jungle.
And Canoo.net is a good source, if you know how to find the right stuff there.


"To answer the original question about n-declination for nominalised adjectives, that does not happen as a rule."

Is the term "n-declination" relevant at all here? I think not, but I would be happy to learn something new!


Have to reply to my own comment, as Duo won't allow another level of indentation.

"Are you asking what n-declination is?"

No, I just don't see the connection between that and nominalised participial adjectives. I thought the original poster was just confused, but your comment "that does not happen as a rule" made me think there can be a connection in certain circumstances. Perhaps I read too much into your wording.


@stoopher: I was mostly just hedging, because I do have something in the back of my mind, like maybe I encountered an exception once, or a word that looked like a nominalised adjective but these days is considered a totally normal noun and hence subject to n-declination...

Basically I just wanted to say "there is no rule that nominalised adjectives need n-declination", as that seemed to directly address the OP's query.


"Diese karitative Organisation hilft politisch Gefangenen und kümmert sich um aus dem Land Vertriebenen." should be correct. die politisch Gefangenen = the politically captured die aus dem Land Vertriebenen = the people who were expelled from the(ir) country

hope that helps!


You've dropped the adjective ending from politisch completely, and somehow have Vertriebenen instead of Vertriebene. Why's that?


if you say "die aus dem Land vertriebenen Personen" the "n" would be right.


Sure, but that's a different sentence.

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