Turning adjectives into nouns

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Turning adjectives into nouns

Reminder: In German, adjectives start with a lower case letter, while all nouns start with a capital letter.

Das Hotel ist alt. 

The hotel is old.

You can turn adjectives into nouns. These start with a capital letter.

Das Leben ist schön. (schön = Adjektiv)

Life is beautiful. (schön (beautiful) = adjective)

Das Schöne im Leben (das Schöne = Nomen)

The beauty of life (das Schöne (beauty)= noun)

The adjective becomes a noun when it comes immediately after an article (der, die, das, etc.) and there is no noun immediately after it.

das gute Leben aber das Gute im Leben

the good life / the good things in life

It is especially common to turn adjectives into nouns after words like etwas (something), nichts (nothing), wenig (few) and viel (lots).

etwas Altes, etwas Neues und etwas Blaues

something old, something new and something blue

im Westen nichts Neues

All Quiet on the Western Front (literally "nothing new in the west")

viel Gutes und wenig Schlechtes

lots of good things, few bad things

Notes:

  • You have to add an ‑es ending to nouns created from adjectives after the words etwas (something), nichts (nothing), wenig, (few) or viel (lots).

Ich lerne viel Neues.

I'm learning lots of new things.

  • In all other cases, the same rules apply as for adjective endings when there is no article. Adjektivdeklination 3

Neues planen

to plan something new

vor Neuem Angst haben

to be afraid of new things


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