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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?


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

There are a few exceptions, see the "Unchanging adjectives" section here (scroll down a bit): https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3888221

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


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.


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

(Restaurant is a 'het-woord')


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?


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


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


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.)


Maybe because they're all 'de' words and so the adjective just follows the rules for 'de' words.


Ty man this really helps.


Thanks a lot, looks helpful!


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


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 http://www.welklidwoord.nl/


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


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?!!!


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


Misschien U zoekt dit artikel op: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3734337

geen dank nodig :)


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


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.


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


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.


I wish I could print this!


Nothing is stopping you from copying this into your notes.


I agree that this topic should be broken down into separate modules. It will make it easier to practice and memorize when done in smaller modules. Right now it is overwhelming!


Thank you very much

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