Go to the homepage of this German Course Chapter 7: Going Shopping University of Portsmouth
7.8 Adjectives of nationality and colour

In Chapter 2 we learned how to express your nationality, and discovered that whereas English uses an adjective - i.e. "I am English" -, German uses a noun without a different article - "Ich bin Engländer" (literally: "I am Englishman").

When you wish to express "German beer" or "English food", as we have started to do in this chapter, you need the appropriate adjective to express your nationality. These are listed in the table below:

  Country Adjective Translation
The Australian flag Andorra andorranisch Andorran
The Andorran flag Australien australisch Australian
The Belgian flag Belgien belgisch Belgian
The Brazilian flag Brasilien brasilianisch Brazilian
The Bulgarian flag Bulgarien bulgarisch Bulgarian
The Chinese flag China chinesisch Chinese
The Danish flag Dänemark dänisch Danish
The German flag Deutschland deutsch German
The British flag England englisch English
The Estonian flag Estland estländisch
The Finnish flag Finnland finnisch Finnish
The French flag Frankreich französisch French
The Greek flag Griechenland griechisch Greek
The British flag Großbritannien britisch British
The Indian flag Indien indisch Indian
The Irish flag Irland irisch Irish
The Icelandic flag Island isländisch Icelandic
The Israeli flag Israel israelisch Israeli
The Italian flag Italien italienisch Italian
The Japanese flag Japan japanisch Japanese
The Canadian flag Kanada kanadisch Canadian
The Colombian flag Kolumbien kolumbianisch Columbian
The Croatian flag Kroatien kroatisch Croatian
The Latvian flag Lettland lettisch Latvian
The Liechtenstein flag Liechtenstein liechtensteinisch Liechtensteinian 
The Lithuanian flag Litauen litauisch Lithuanian
The Luxembourg flag Luxemburg luxemburgisch Luxembourgish
The Macedonian flag Mazedonien mazedonisch Macedonian
The Mexican flag Mexiko mexikanisch Mexican
The Moldovan flag Moldawien moldawisch Moldovan
The Monegasque flag Monaco monegassisch Monegasque
The New Zealand flag Neuseeland neuseeländisch New Zealand
The Dutch flag die Niederlande niederländisch Dutch
The Norwegian flag Norwegen norwegisch Norwegian
The Austrian flag Österreich österreichisch Austrian
The Polish flag Polen polnisch Polish
The Portuguese flag Portugal portugiesisch Portuguese
The Romanian flag Rumänien rumänisch Romanian
The Russian flag Russland russisch Russian
The British flag Schottland schottisch Scottish
The Swedish flag Schweden schwedisch Swedish
The Swiss flag die Schweiz schweizerisch
The Slovakian flag die Slowakei slowakisch Slovakian
The Slovenian flag Slowenien slowenisch Slovenian
The Spanish flag Spanien spanisch Spanish
The South African flag Südafrika südafrikanisch South African
The South Korean flag Südkorea südkoreanisch South Korean
The Czech flag die Tschechische Republik tschechisch Czech
The Tunisian flag Tunesien tunesisch Tunisian
The Turkish flag die Türkei türkisch Turkish
The Ukranian flag die Ukraine ukrainisch Ukranian
The Hungarian flag Ungarn ungarisch Hungarian
The American flag die USA (US-)amerikanisch American
The British flag Wales walisisch Welsh
The Cypriot flag Zypern zypriotisch Cypriot

Grammatical Points
1. Unlike English, adjectives referring to countries take a small letter in German. Thus "my German uncle" would be translated as "mein deutscher Onkel".

2. Adjectives of nationality take adjective endings in exactly the same way as other adjectives.

3. There are two different adjectives to translate "Swiss". The first of these - "schweizerisch" behaves like any other adjective of nationality. The second however "Schweizer" always starts with a capital letter and never takes adjective endings. Thus "Swiss eggs" could either be translated as "schweizerische Eier" (= with endings) or "Schweizer Eier" (= without endings).

Test yourself!
Test yourself on German adjectives of nationality by taking the following online exercises. The first of these are the Quia vocabulary-building exercises with which you are familiar. Exercises 2 and 3 are drag and drop exercises that require you to match the correct nationality with the correct flag. The fourth and fifth exercises require you to spell adjectives of nationality correctly - against the clock!

Do your homework!

In the course of the conversations in the first few sections of this chapter, we have encountered some more German adjectives for colours to add to the ones which have already featured in earlier chapters. Here is a list of the most important ones:

black schwarz     grey grau
blue blau     red rot
brown braun     white weiß
green grün     yellow gelb

All of these adjectives take the normal adjectival endings - i.e. "rote Äpfel", "grüne Trauben". There are however four common colours which do not take adjectival endings and thus behave like Schweizer above. These colours are:

beige beige     orange orange
pink rosa     purple lila

Such adjectives do however often take on suffixes such as "-farben" and "-farbig", both meaning "-coloured". When they do so normal adjectival endings are added - i.e. "ein lila Kleid" or "ein lilafarbenes Kleid" (a purple dress).

Do your homework!

Test yourself on German colours!
Test your knowledge of German colour adjectives by taking these quizzes. Click on the bar below to get started.

Weiter!Chapter 7.9: Adjective endings after numbers

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