Grammar: Adjectives


  1. Adjectives and definite articles (het/de)
  2. Adjectives and indefinite articles (een)
  3. Adjecives with no article
  4. Predicate adjectives
  5. Unchanging adjectives
  6. Adjectives used on their own

Oh dear. All these articles to remember and now we have to figure out how they affect adjectives??

Don’t worry dear users. Here is an explanation for you that might just help.

Adjectives and definite articles

If an adjective comes before a noun with a definite article ("de" or "het"), it usually gets the ending -e.

An -e is also added if there is a demonstrative or possessive pronoun instead of a definite article

  • deze oude hond - this old dog
  • dit oude huis - this old house
  • mijn oude hond - my old dog
  • mijn oude huis - my old house

Adjectives and indefinite articles

If the indefinite article ”een" comes before a het-word in the singular, then the adjective does not get the -e ending.

If it comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

The following words act like “een” in that the adjective does not get an ending when preceded by them and if the noun being described is a het-word:

  • geen: Dat is geen groot huis. (That is not a big house.)
  • elk: Elk zwart pak is duur. (Every black suit is expensive.)
  • genoeg: Wij hebben genoeg koud water. (We have enough cold water.)
  • ieder: Ieder klein meisje draagt een rok. (Every little girl is wearing a skirt.)
  • veel: Ik koop veel lekker bier. (I am buying a lot of tasty beer.)
  • wat: Zij eet wat nieuw brood. (She is eating some new bread.)
  • weinig: De kinderen eten weinig vers fruit. (The children do not eat much fresh fruit.)
  • welk: Welk oud boek leest hij? (Which old book is he reading?)
  • zo’n: Dat is zo’n groot dier! (That is such a big animal!)
  • zulk: Ze hebben altijd zulk lekker brood. (They always have such tasty bread.)

Adjectives with no article

If no article at all comes before a het-word, then the adjective does not get the -e ending either.

If no article comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

Predicate adjectives

Put simply, predicate adjectives are adjectives that follow a linking verb like “to be” that describe the subject.

The adjective “green” in “The ball is green.” is a predicate adjective.

In Dutch, predicate adjectives don’t get any ending.

  • Het huis is groot.
  • De hond is groot.
  • De honden zijn duur.

Unchanging adjectives

Some adjectives don’t get any ending.

These include:

+adjectives ending in -en (this includes participles of verbs acting as adjectives that end in -en) + eigen: mijn eigen hond (my own dog) + tevreden: de tevreden katten (the satisfied cats) + gebroken: de gebroken lamp (the broken lamp) + open: het open boek (the open book) + opgewonden: de opgewonden kinderen (the excited children)

  • Material adjectives with -en
    • gouden: de gouden spiegel (the golden mirror)
    • houten: de houten stoel (the wooden chair)
    • zilveren: het zilveren kettinkje (the silver necklace)
  • And a few without -en

    • plastic: een plastic zak (a plastic bag)
    • rubber: een rubber schoen (a rubber shoe)
  • Adjectives ending in -a or an unstressed -e

    • prima: een prima kans (an excellent opportunity)
    • roze: een roze jurk (a pink dress)
  • Adjectives with ordinal numbers in the first part

    • tweedehands: een tweedehands auto (a second-hand car)
    • derderangs: derderangs producten (third-rate products)

rechter (right) and linker (left) are not inflected:

  • de rechter table (the right table)
  • de linker foto (the left photo)

NOTE: if the fact that a noun is “left” or “right” is considered a fixed attribute, then “linker” and “rechter” are usually connected to the noun.

  • de linkerhand (the left hand)
  • de rechterkant (the right side)

Adjectives used on their own

It is also possible to use adjectives independently, which means that they don’t have to be used in direct association with a noun.

There are two instances where this occurs:

  • the adjective can be used as a noun itself if the noun it refers to has already been mentioned:

Welke hoed wil je hebben, de rode of de witte? (Which hat do you want, the red one or the white one?)

  • if the adjective is used in combination with the words iets (something), niets (nothing), veel (much), wat (something), allerlei (all kinds of), wat voor (what kind of), genoeg (enough), or weinig (not much/little), then an -s is added to the end.

Ik heb iets leuks gekocht. (I bought something nice).

Hij heeft ons veel interessants verteld. (He told us a lot of interesting things.)

Return to grammar overview!

July 28, 2014


I tried to simplify.

The adjective does not get the -e ending: - if it is predicate adjective, - if [het-word in singular] is indefinite, not concrete (no article or before sg het-word is een, geen, ieder,...)

In all other cases the adjective get the -e ending.

It is good?

May 15, 2015

Yes that's it, shortest explanation I've seen. :)

There are a few exceptions, see the "Unchanging adjectives" section here (scroll down a bit):

But if you remember what you just wrote, you're good.

May 15, 2015

Thanks your answer. I did read it.

All page of the 'Overview of grammar explanations' is very helpful.

Maar dat is lang en ik ben langzaam.:)

May 17, 2015

I've been waiting for this one, KaiEngle. Thanks!

July 28, 2014

What about when there are two adjectives in a row. For example : Dit is de authentiekeste Japans restaurant in Amsterdam. Does only the first adjective get an -e ending? Thanks.

September 25, 2018

Both adjectives get an -e ending. ''Dit is het authentiekste Japanse restaurant in Amsterdam.''

(Restaurant is a 'het-woord')

December 14, 2018

It is a glaring omission not to say anything about adjectives in front of plural nouns! (The Adj. Basic lesson’s Tips & Notes includes plural examples in earlier sections, although they got left out later on.)

September 2, 2019

When you say a "het" word, do you mean just when it is singular? Help us out with this lesson where both "veel" and "vele" are accepted with "boeken" with no article. We are given the English to translate "I have many books." "Ik heb veel boeken." or "Ik heb vele boeken."

September 15, 2014

Dutch words are either common or neuter. Common words have 'de' as the definitive article, while neuter words have 'het' as the definitive article. Plural words always have 'de' however. (de man -> de mannen; het meisje -> de meisjes) To simplify it: most adjectives before a noun get an -e attached to it, except when it is a singular neuter noun with an indefinite article (een mooi meisje)

The difference between "ik heb veel boeken" and "ik heb vele boeken" is very subtle. with 'veel boeken' you refer to the many books as a whole, while with 'vele boeken' there's more emphasis on the individual books. However in everyday speech the difference is not that important.

September 16, 2014

So both are acceptable? I thought according to your first paragraph that it would be "veel boek" but "vele boeken". Of course, that doesn't make more sense to have this particular word "veel" with a singular word at all. According to your second paragraph it looks like "Ik heb veel boeken" would mean "I have a lot of books." and "Ik heb vele boeken" would mean "I have many books."

September 16, 2014

So is "kind" a het or de word? I thought it was a de word, but I saw "Het zwakke kind" in a lesson.

June 28, 2015

It's a het word. So it is indeed "Het zwakke kind". A nice site for looking up whether something is a de or a het word is

June 28, 2015

Dankuwel! Also, would "Een zwak kind" be correct?

June 29, 2015


November 2, 2015

in this case "the adjective can be used as a noun itself if the noun it refers to has already been mentioned" we don't add anything to the adjective,right?!!!

January 26, 2016

Why in the lessons do they sometimes use we and sometimes wij? I always seem to get marked down for using the wrong one.

May 23, 2016

Misschien U zoekt dit artikel op:

geen dank nodig :)

February 12, 2017

so before i assume, do ALL adjectives ending in en take no ending?

November 25, 2017

The material ones do not get an extra -e ending, those end in -en (except for 'plastic', 'aluminium', 'polyester', and 'rubber'; they don't get an -e ending either!). So, it's not because they end in -en, but because they are materials.

November 25, 2017

Dank je wel! That sums a rather cloudy to me topic up nicely and gives it some structure.

May 16, 2018


July 22, 2018

Would you say it doesn't get the -e if it's -es in German? I went through most of these examples and the correspondence is astonishing.

June 8, 2019

I made some real headway on this skill, then burnt out and wandered off. I'm back again have reviewed back up to adjectives and am again slamming into it like a wall. Any chance this skill will be separated into more bite sized pieces like some other skills have concentrated parts 1, 2, 3 etc?

June 9, 2019

Thanks for the heads up! We are figuring out how to improve the tree, so I'll let the team know for sure! :)

June 30, 2019


June 30, 2019
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