Danish Language Blog

Getting the Jigsaw Right Posted by on Feb 11, 2012 in Grammar

This is by no means our first trip into the jungle of Danish nouns, articles and adjectives, and I can’t guarantee it will be the last! 😉 The rules are simple, and no one bites you if you make a mistake. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to get your Danish grammar right!

Okay, you have a noun, let’s say hue (cap, pronounce ’hoo-eh’). You now want to describe this noun, using an adjective, let’s say brun (brown). As you may recall, Danish adjectives take one of three endings: -e, -t or no ending (basic form). One of these endings may also modify the basic shape of the adjective, e.g. grøn (green) becoming grønne with the e-ending attached.

Now, how should the adjective brun look when combined with the noun huebrun, brunt or brune? A way to decide this may be to ask yourself the following:

Is the adjective being introduced by a determiner that pins down a unique ’someone’ or ’something’ in the world?

If yes

>> Add an -e.

A determiner is a word that tells us something about the scope of a noun – like a, the, some, all. In Danish, those determiners that point to specific things or persons, cause the following adjective to take the e-ending:

den brune hue     the brown cap/that brown cap (not just any brown cap)
min brune hue     my brown cap (likewise, a particular cap in the world)
Oles to brune huer     Ole’s two brown caps

If no, continue with the question:

Is the noun plural?

If yes

>> Add an -e.

Hvorfor er brune huer altid brune?    Why are brown caps always brown?

If no, continue with the question:


Does the noun take the EN or the ET article?


>> Common gender (EN nouns) causes the adjective to appear in the basic form:

en brun hue    a brown cap

huen er brun    the cap is brown

>> Neuter (ET nouns) causes the adjective to take the t-ending:

et brunt dyr     a brown animal

dyret er brun    the animal is brown


The t-ending is also used to make adverbs (like -ly in English!):

Hvorfor er du altid så munter?     Why are you always so cheerful?

Hun smilte muntert.     She smiled cheerfully.

Keep learning Danish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.