Why use prepositions with adjectives?

Why, hello there you magnificent, studious, attentive learner! I can see that you’re excited to learn more about adjectives. That is a fantastic attitude! So, let’s take a look at how to manage adjectives with prepositions.

Before we do that, though, make sure to watch Anja’s video about prepositions. It’s a nice, quick refresher on what they are and what they do.

In German, some adjectives tend to go with specific prepositions. This helps us show how the adjective relates to an object. Unfortunately, there aren’t any clear rules to help us work out exactly which prepositions to use with which adjectives.

The only solution, as usual, is to learn them all individually.

student memorizing things from books

Don’t worry, I believe in you! Once you’ve gone over a phrase a few times, it’ll have a way of rolling off your tongue without you thinking too hard about it later. There's nothing like practice!

10 prepositions with 30 adjectives

Alright, let's get started! Here are 30 of the most common adjectives that work like this, using the 10 prepositions that are most commonly used with adjectives. 

Ready? Steady? Let's go!

1. auf 

  • gespannt (excited) - Bobbi ist auf den Film gespannt. (Bobbi is looking forward to the movie.)
  • vorbereitet (prepared) - Katie ist auf den Test vorbereitet. (Katie is prepared for the test.)
  • stolz (proud) - Gogo ist stolz auf sich. (Gogo is proud of himself.)

2. an 

  • schuld (guilty) - Er ist an allem schuld. (Everything is Gogo’s fault.)
  • interessiert (interested) - Katie ist an einem neuen Job interessiert. (Katie is interested in a new job.)
  • reich (rich) - Die Stadt ist reich an Geschichte. (The city is rich in history.)

3. bei

  • beliebt (well-liked) - Sie ist bei allen beliebt. (She is well-liked by everyone.)
  • eingestellt (hired) - Bobbi wurde bei einem großen Konzern eingestellt. (Bobbi was hired at a big corporation.)
  • behilflich (helpful) - Der Junge war uns beim Putzen behilflich. (The boy was helpful to us with the cleaning.)

4. für

  • verantwortlich (responsible) - Der CEO ist bei der Arbeit für alles verantwortlich. (The CEO is responsible for everything at work.)
  • dankbar (thankful) - Sie ist dankbar für das Geschenk. (She is grateful for the gift.)
  • schädlich (harmful) - Schokolade ist schädlich für Hunde. (Chocolate is harmful for dogs.)

5. in

  • verliebt (in love) - Er ist in das Mädchen verliebt. (He is in love with the girl.)
  • gut (good) - Sie ist gut in Mathematik. (She is good at math.)
  • erfahren (experienced) - Sie ist in diesem Beruf sehr erfahren. (She is very experienced in this profession.)

6. mit 

  • verabredet (agreed-upon) - Er ist mit ihr verabredet. (He arranged to meet with her. [or: He has a date with her])
  • beschäftigt (busy) - Bobbi ist mit seinem Auto beschäftigt. (Bobbi is busy with his car.)
  • fertig (done) - Bald ist er fertig mit der Reparatur. (Soon he will be done with the repairs.)

7. nach

  • hungrig (hungry) - Katie ist hungrig nach Pizza. (Katie is hungry for Pizza.)
  • verrückt (crazy) - Das Kind ist verrückt nach Zucker. (The child is crazy for sugar.)
  • schmeckend (tasting) - Gogo mariniert das nach nichts schmeckende Tofu ein. (Gogo marinates the of-nothing-tasting (flavorless) tofu.)

8. von

  • begeistert (thrilled) - Katie ist von dem Essen begeistert. (Katie is thrilled about the meal.)
  • überzeugt (convinced) - Bobbi ist von dem Argument nicht überzeugt. (Bobbi is not convinced by the argument.)
  • abhängig (dependent) - Meinungen sind abhängig von dem Geschmack. (Opinions are dependent on taste.)

9. zu

  • freundlich (friendly) - Gogo ist immer freundlich zu allen. (Gogo is always friendly to everyone.)
  • nett (nice) - Die Lehrerin ist nett zu ihren Schülern. (The teacher is nice to her students.)
  • fähig (capable) - Der alte Kater ist zu nichts mehr fähig. (The old cat is no longer capable of anything.)

10. über

  • aufgeregt (excited) - Sie ist über ihre Hochzeit aufgeregt. (She is excited about her wedding.)
  • froh (glad) - Er ist über die froh über das schöne Wetter heute. (He is glad for the beautiful weather today.)
  • empört (outraged) - Die alte Dame ist empört über die jungen Leute. (The old lady is outraged by the young people.)

How to tell which case to use with prepositions

Now, if you were reading closely, you might have noticed a small problem with all of these examples. Did you see it? 

Of course you did! You’re a brilliant student! It’s about the cases. After the preposition, we often have an object, but sometimes it’s in the Dative case, and sometimes in the Accusative. 

  • Er ist in das Mädchen verliebt. (He is in love with the girl.)
  • Katie ist an einem neuen Job interessiert. (Katie is interested in a new job.)
  • Gogo ist immer freundlich zu allen. (Gogo is always friendly to everyone.)

So, how do we decide which case to use with a new adjective? 

choosing between accusative and dative in German

Just kidding, it’s not really about the adjective at all! The cases are actually (mostly) determined by the preposition that is attached to the adjective. For that, we can just look at our nice chart about prepositions and their cases here. We already saw those once when we were learning about the Accusative case.

german two way prepositions chart

Of course, that leaves us with the “Wechselpräpositionen” (two-way prepositions) in the middle of the chart. Here, we have to learn which case we need to use to give us the right meaning.

With these, changing the case can give us a very different (and sometimes silly) meaning. For example:

  • Katie ist über ihr Auto genervt. (Katie is annoyed about her car.)
  • Katie ist über ihrem Auto genervt. (Katie is annoyed above her car.)

  • Sie ist in das alte Haus verliebt. (She is in love with the old house.)
  • Sie ist in dem alten Haus verliebt. (She is in love in the old house.)

There’s always something. 

Lastly, keep in mind that we don’t only use the 10 prepositions that we covered here today – they’re just the most common prepositions that we use with adjectives. 

Congratulations, wise learner! You’ve made it through another lesson. Next time, we’ll dive into how adjectives can combine with cases when there aren’t any prepositions around to help.

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Related posts

  • In English you would say “Bobbi is excited ABOUT the movie.” You would use FOR when referring to a person.

    • Thank you, Louis! We corrected it 🙂

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