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Express Yourself In German With These Adjectives Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Language, Practice, vocabulary

Guten Tag! I’m here with what I hope will be another practical, useful post for you all! First, a question: Do you ever speak or write in German only to find yourself using the same words over and over again? Is everything good always ‘gut’ and everything bad always ‘schlecht’? Does it ever frustrate you when you can’t express yourself fully for lack of a better adjective to describe how you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing, or what you think of something?

This happens to me a lot when I speak or write in German. I find myself saying the same words over and over because I don’t have any ‘advanced’ adjectives in my immediate vocabulary. But wouldn’t it be nice if we did have those? The only way to do this is to learn a couple of synonyms for the words we commonly use. This will instantly make our German sound better and will help us get across our feelings and thoughts a lot more effectively! So let’s get started.

Here are my most commonly used adjectives in German:

Nett – Friendly
Schön – Pretty
Gut – Good
Schlecht – Bad
Komisch – Funny(odd)
Lustig – Funny(amusing)
Grantig – Grumpy
Traurig – Sad
Schwierig – Difficult
Langweilig – Boring
Glücklich – Happy
Spannend – Exciting
Blöd – Stupid

What does your list look like? Don’t be surprised if it’s pretty similar to mine. These are usually the words we learn in German lessons at school, so it’s no wonder they are the ones we are likely to use all the time. But what if you don’t really want to say that a person is nett (friendly)? What if you want to express that they’re considerate – another ‘way’ of being friendly?

 

Their moment

Learn more advanced German adjectives and benefit from better conversations and being able to express yourself fully to other German speakers! Photo by Jonas Foyn Therkelsen on flickr.com under a CC license (CC by 2.0)

What I’ll do now is go through the list again and give you a few different German words for them. This is how we make our German more colourful and get closer to our intended meaning! 🙂

 

nett – friendly
freundlich (friendly), lieb (sweet), sympathisch (endearing), menschlich (people person/good with people), rücksichtsvoll (considerate), taktvoll (tactful)

 

schön – pretty/nice
hübsch (pretty), attraktiv (attractive), wunderschön (beautiful), gut aussehend (good-looking), bildschön (picture perfect), geschmackvoll (tasteful), stilvoll (stylish), ästhetisch (aesthetic), idyllisch (idyllic)

 

gut – good
fein (nice, good), großartig (brilliant/fantastic), exzellent (excellent), wunderbar (wonderful), eindrucksvoll (impressive), toll (great), in Ordnung (all good/‘in order‘), super (super/great), prima (great/fab), einwandfrei (stress-free), wohl (well), herrlich (wonderful), ausreichend (enough/sufficient)

 

schlecht – bad
schlimm (bad), unwohl (not well), übel (ugly/sick), schwach (weak), ineffektiv (ineffective), elend (miserable/dreadful), schrecklich (frightful/awful), furchtbar (awful), jämmerlich (wretched/miserable/’to whinge over’), trostlos (dismal), peinlich (embarrassing), erschöpft (exhausted)

 

komisch – funny (odd)
seltsam (strange), absurd (absurd), eigenartig (unique), kurios (curious), sonderbar (extraordinary/stands out), merkwürdig (strange/unusual)

 

lustig – funny (amusing)
witzig (witty), spaßig (fun), drollig (funny), lächerlich (laughable), humorvoll (humorous)

 

grantig – grumpy
muffelig (grumpy), reizbar (sensitive/touchy), mürrisch (surly), wütend (angry), verärgert (angered), zornig (irate), stocksauer (pissed off), angefressen (pissed off), unfreundlich (unfriendly)

 

traurig – sad
weinerlich (tearful), depressiv (depressed), freudlos (sad/’joy-free’), melancholisch (melancholy), bekümmert (preoccupied), leise (quiet), verzweifelt (despairing), lebensmüde (tired of life)

 

schwierig – difficult
kompliziert (complicated), nicht einfach (not easy), problematisch (problematic), schwer (difficult/heavy), beschwerlich (burdensome), gefährlich (dangerous), nicht verständlich (not understandable/not clear), hoffnungslos (hopeless), herausfordernd (challenging)

 

langweilig – boring
einschläfernd (will make you fall asleep), nichts los (nothing going on), farblos (colourless/bland), langsam (slow), ereignislos (uneventful), leblos (lifeless), monoton (monotonous), glanzlos (lacklustre)

 

glücklich – happy
froh (happy/pleased), freudig (happy/joyful), erleichtert (relieved), gut gelaunt (in a good mood),  zufrieden (content), lebenslustig (lively/fun-loving), sorgenfrei (carefree), ekstatisch (ecstatic), entspannt (relaxed)

 

spannend – exciting
dramatisch (dramatic), aufregend (exciting/thrilling), mitreißend (rousing/thrilling), sensationell (sensational)

 

blöd – stupid
doof, dumm, bescheuert, trottelig (’something a Trottel – idiot – would do’), unvernünftig (unreasonable), sinnlos/zwecklos (pointless), unklug (unwise/foolish)

 

How can I use this list of German adjectives?

I don’t expect you to learn every single word from every single list, but maybe pick one from each list and commit to memory. See if you can use it next time you speak or write German. Then go back to the list and learn another! Soon you’ll be expressing yourself in German in a much more advanced way. I’m going to try this, too!

Please also feel free to add your own words to the list by typing them in the comment box below!

Bis bald,

Constanze

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. My native language is English and I live in the UK, but my first language was (Bavarian) German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor. Twitter: @constanzearnold


Comments:

  1. Michael Quinlan:

    Constanz, I iknow it’s hard to write for all levels of German learners, but this post is great for me. Love it. Thank you.

    FWIW, an idea for a post… My knowledge of simple vocabulary sometimes lets me guess correctly at more complicated words. Halten/hold. Erhalten/receive. But sometimes knowing the basic word leads you down the wrong path. Erfahren is not about “to drive,” nor aufhören about listening. MIght be interesting to explore when the build-up of basic vocabulary leads to obvious or surprising places.

    • Constanze:

      @Michael Quinlan Interesting idea, Michael. Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll have a think and write a post about it!

  2. Cecilia:

    Hallo Constanze!

    Just wanted to make an observation: geschmackvoll is the right way to write the word.

    Thank you for your useful blog!

    Greetings!

    • Constanze:

      @Cecilia Oops! Thank you for pointing that out, Cecilia! Glad you enjoy the blog.

  3. Julie P:

    Thank you once again. I have told you before that I think your blog is very good and I enjoy it very much, it is clear and helpful plus very informative, enjoyable reading . I visitmy family in Bavaria a couple of times a year, but most people want to practice their English on me. I find older people on public transport or in the street are most willing to talk Bavarian ( which I can follow) or German to me. Thanks again!

  4. jon:

    Can you give alternatives to “schön” that apply to things? Apparently, a thing cannot be “nice” in German. Schön gets a bit boring after awhile. I have been told that men do not use “niedlich”, unless describing a puppy. Is there a word that would be more equivalent to the English “nice” than “schön”?

    • Constanze:

      @jon Hey Jon! I’m also guilty of using schön too much! When you think about it, the word ‘nice’ in English has come to mean anything and everything, when its base meanings are, essentially: friendly (freundlich in German), and pleasant (angenehm or bequem in German). I think it’s about selecting a word relevant to the thing you’re describing as ‘nice’. If you want to describe a ‘thing’ (as opposed to a person) as nice, think what exactly you mean by using the word ‘nice’ – is it positiv (positive)? Is it entspannend (relaxing)? Is it effektiv (effective)? And so on.
      I hope this makes sense! 🙂

  5. Joseph T. Madawela:

    this was very helpful thanks


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