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In Swedish the adjective is inflected for gender ('en' - 'ett'), number (singular - plural) and under certain conditions also for definiteness (indefinite - definite).
Below is outlined the inflection of the adjective under the various conditions that apply.
Just as in English, adjectives are used in two different ways in Swedish, predicatively and attributively. The distinction is important since the rules for the adjectives are more extensive in the attributive use.
When the adjective is used predicatively the verb 'to be' is found between the noun and the following adjective. The order is thus: noun + verb + adjective.
The attributive use of the adjective does not involve a verb between the adjective and the noun. In this use of the adjective the noun follows the adjective: adjective + noun.
Note: The attributive examples above are not complete sentences but would be part of a larger construction as in 'I see the expensive cars'.
When the noun is indefinite the adjective is inflected depending on whether the noun is 'en', 'ett' or plural. This is true both for adjectives used attributively and predicatively.
Words that are 'en' takes the basic lexical from of the adjective. This form does not have a particular ending, but the form is found in a dictionary.
If the word is 'ett' however, a final -t is added to the end of the basic form and if the noun is plural (reglardless of 'en' or 'ett') the a final -a is added to the basic form.
Note: The noun 'bil' is always 'en' and as such takes the basic form of the adjective 'fin' when in the indefinite. Since 'hus' is 'ett' a final -t is added to make 'fint'. In the plural the final letter of the adjective is -a.
These three forms of the adjective is used both in the attributive and predicative use when the noun is indefinite:
Example: Ett dyrt hus. / Ett hus är dyrt. ( An expensive house. / A house is expensive.)
When the noun is in the definite from and the adjective is in an attributive position, the adjective ends in an -a for all forms, 'en', 'ett' and 'plural'.
However, such constructions are preceded by a definite pronoun. These definite pronouns are either 'den', 'det' or 'de', depending on whether the noun is 'en', 'ett' or 'plural'.
In this way the definiteness is marked in three instances: 1) the article den/det/de, 2) the adjective ending with an -a and 3) the definite noun.
Note: Even though 'en', 'ett' or plural does not govern the inflection of the adjective, it is important for determining what definite pronoun to use.
Note also that the above only applies to adjectives in the attributive position where the adjective precedes the noun. In the more common predicative use (see above), the adjective is inflected according to 'en', 'ett' and 'plural' without a definite pronoun, even if the noun is definite:
Example: Huset är fint. (The house is nice.)
When a noun in the genitive or a possessive pronoun (both indicating belonging) is used with an adjective, the adjective is definite, even though the noun technically is not.
The reason for this is that although the noun does not have a definite ending, the noun is considered known as the genitive indicates to whom it belongs.
Lärarens fina penna ligger på bordet. (The teacher's nice pen is on the table.)
Hans gamla bil startar inte. (His old car does not start.)
Skolans stora gympahall ligger där. (The school's big sportshall is over there.)
Note: The above is true also in English since we cannot say 'His old the car does not start'. The only difference is that in Swedish the adjective is marked for definiteness.
Fill in the blanks in the sentences below. Choose between the three forms of the adjective in brackets. Note how some of the adjectives have an irregular inflection.
Fill in the blanks in the sentences below. Choose between the articles and the forms of the adjective in brackets. Note how some of the adjectives have an irregular inflection.
Fill in the blanks in the sentences below. Choose an appropriate article and a form of the adjective from the brackets.