German suffixes: How to form adjectives from a list of adjective endings

German suffixes: How to form adjectives from a list of adjective endings

by Jakob Straub

Updated April 14, 2023

You can create a variety of useful German adjectives by adding certain suffixes to nouns, verbs or even other adjectives. In many cases of adjective formation, you simply attach one of the German suffixes to the stem of the respective word. These suffixes tend to follow patterns in terms of their characteristics, so the German adjective ending you use may contribute to or slightly alter the word’s meaning.

When learning German, we recommend memorizing the list of German adjective suffixes and their meanings. This will make it easier to form adjectives from other words. In this guide, we’ll review the major adjective endings before diving into more detail on how to use them to change nouns, verbs and other adjectives.

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List of German adjective suffixes 

The following list of German suffixes to form adjectives will give you an overview of how the adjective endings contribute to different meanings of the resulting words.

1. German adjective suffix: -arm

Arm translates to “poor, sparse or lacking.” Adjectives with the suffix –arm generally indicate a sense of scarcity, or the lack of something. This isn’t always necessarily negative — consider the adjective schadstoffarm, which refers to a low level of harmful pollutants. Here are some other examples to help clarify this:.

  • fettarm: low-fat
  • kalorienarm: low in calories
  • schadstoffarm: low-emission
  • wartungsarm: low-maintenance
  • energiearm: low-energy

2. German adjective suffix: -bar

The German suffix –bar commonly attaches to German verbs to express the sense that something is capable of doing or being, or is full of something else. The usage is similar to the English suffix -able, though not exactly. In some cases, for example, English would use the suffix –ful to express a sense of fullness. Here are some examples of German adjectives ending in –bar

  • machbar: doable, makeable
  • dankbar: grateful, thankful
  • denkbar: conceivable
  • essbar: edible
  • brennbar: flammable

3. German adjective suffix: -ern

The adjective ending -ern is often used in German adjectives that describe something made from a particular substance or material.

  • eisern: iron
  • ledern: leather
  • gläsern: glass
  • steinern: stone
  • hölzern: wooden

4. German adjective suffix: -fest

“Fest” means firm or solid. The adjective ending –fest, when tacked onto the end of a noun or verb, often describes things that can resist or withstand. It may also denote that something is protected from or impervious to something.

  • wasserfest: waterproof, water-resistant
  • spülmaschinenfest: dishwasher safe
  • charakterfest: strong/firm in character
  • schnittfest: easy to cut (without falling apart)
  • reißfest: tearproof, tear resistant

5. German adjective suffix: -frei

With “frei” meaning free, the German suffix –frei applies to adjectives that describe things that are free of something else.

  • rauchfrei: smoke-free, non-smoking
  • zuckerfrei: sugar-free
  • fehlerfrei: flawless
  • sinnfrei: pointless, senseless
  • schulfrei: free of school, no school

6. German adjective suffix: -haft

The suffix –haft is used when a thing has a specific trait or is endowed or afflicted with something.

  • sagenhaft: amazing, incredible
  • ekelhaft: disgusting, gross
  • rätselhaft: mysterious, enigmatic
  • habhaft: detained, obtained
  • tugendhaft: virtuous

7. German adjective suffix: -ig

The German suffix -ig attaches to nouns, verbs and even adverbs. Given this flexibility, it ranks among the most common adjective endings in German. You can use –ig words to express that something is a certain way or happens a certain way.

  • traurig: sad, sadly
  • wässrig: watery
  • knackig: crunchy, crispy
  • abhängig: dependent, addicted
  • geizig: stingy

8. German adjective suffix: -isch

German adjectives ending in –isch generally tell you about the origin of something, or signify that it belongs to something else.

  • europäisch: European
  • wählerisch: picky
  • heuchlerisch: hypocritical
  • chaotisch: chaotic
  • biologisch: biological

9. German adjective suffix: -leer

The suffix -leer generally tells you that something is empty, devoid of or without something else.

  • luftleer: airless
  • menschenleer: deserted, empty of people
  • sinnleer: pointless, meaningless
  • tränenleer: tearless
  • blutleer: bloodless

10. German adjective suffix: -lich

Adjectives ending in –lich talk about a manner or a characteristic.

  • feierlich: solemn(ly)
  • natürlich: natural(ly)
  • persönlich: personal(ly)
  • glücklich: happy/happily
  • verständlich: understandable/understandably

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11. German adjective suffix: -los

This German adjective suffix is closest to the English -less and therefore commonly means “without something.”

  • arbeitslos: unemployed, out of work
  • bodenlos: bottomless, groundless
  • harmlos: harmless
  • machtlos: powerless
  • schlaflos: sleepless

12. German adjective suffix: -reich

“Reich” translates to “plentiful, copious or rich.” So, adjectives that use this suffix tend to denote a certain fullness.

  • hilfreich: helpful
  • verlustreich: lossy, incurring losses
  • kurvenreich: curvy
  • einflussreich: influential
  • nährstoffreich: nutritious

13. German adjective suffix: -sam

The suffix -sam is generally used in words that describe something that is possible, doable or has certain characteristics.

  • heilsam: healing
  • aufmerksam: attentive, careful
  • grausam: awful, cruel
  • wirksam: effective
  • mühsam: tedious, painstaking

14. German adjective suffix: -voll

The suffix -voll expresses that something is full of or filled with something else, or contains plenty.

  • angstvoll: anxious(ly), scared
  • liebevoll: loving(ly)
  • stilvoll: stylish(ly)
  • randvoll: brimming, full/filled to the brim
  • mitleidvoll: compassionate(ly)

15. German adjective suffix: Participles

You can also change verbs into adjectives using their German participles, specifically the present participle (suffix -d)  and past participle (suffix -et and -t).

  • Partizip 1stehend: standing (verb: stehen)
  • Partizip 1schweigend: silently, not talking (verb: schweigen)
  • Partizip 2gefährdet: endangered (verb: gefährden)
  • Partizip 2gekündigt: fired (verb: kündigen)

How to form German adjectives from endings

You can change adjectives, nouns and verbs to adjectives by adding the suffix.


You can add the suffix -lich to existing adjectives to form a lesser version of it, similar to how the English suffix -ish works.

  • blau (blue) + lich = bläulich (bluish)
  • klein (small) + lich = kleinlich (petty)
  • dumm (dumm) + lich = dümmlich (dumbly)


To change a noun into an adjective, you can remove the noun ending from the stem of the word and add one of the following typical adjective endings:

  • ern: Stein (stone) — steinern (stony, stone)
  • haft: Ernst (seriousness) — ernsthaft (seriously)
  • ig: Freude (joy) — freudig (joyful)
  • isch: Musik (music) — musikalisch (musical)
  • lich: Glück (luck) — glücklich (lucky)
  • sam: Mühe (hardship) — mühsam (hard, arduous)


To change a verb into a German adjective with a suffix, you can often simply remove the -en of the infinitive and add the adjective ending instead.

  • bar: trinken (to drink) — trinkbar (drinkable)
  • sam: arbeiten (to work) — arbeitssam (hardworking, busy)

German adjective formation with suffixes

There is a list of common German adjective suffixes you can learn to help you form adjectives from nouns, verbs and other adjectives. To change the word, you can often simply add one of the adjective endings to the word stem. Not all suffixes pair with all types of words, and there is a pattern to the characteristics or meanings of the resulting new adjectives. Learn more adjectives with our long list of useful German adjectives!

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Jakob Straub

Jakob is a freelance writer in Barcelona, Spain, and his favorite books have pages all empty. As an expert storyteller, he publishes creative fiction in English and German and helps other authors shape their manuscripts into compelling stories. Thanks to an expertise in a wide range of topics such as writing, literature and productivity to marketing, travel, and technology, he produces engaging content for his clients. Apart from the escape that books offer, Jakob enjoys traveling digital nomad style and stays active with climbing and hiking. Find out more about him on his websiteTwitter or on Goodreads.

Jakob Straub

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