Adjective Inflection

Adjectives, including past participles, are inflected for number, definiteness and gender. The form is determined by agreement with a head noun or a predicative base. The adjective is also inflected for case when it functions as the head of a noun phrase. Gradable adjectives can normally be compared (having positive, comparative and superlative forms).

In the positive, the plural ending is -a, or -e after an unstressed syllable with the vowel /a/, e.g. stor-a, kastad-e. The same form is also used as a singular definite form, e.g. den gaml-a stugan 'the old cottage', but here a form in -e is often used for masculine referents, e.g. den gaml-e mannen 'the old man', obligatorily when the adjective is the head of the noun phrase, e.g. den gaml-e 'the old man'. In the indefinite singular, the base form is used without an ending in agreement with utrum nouns, e.g. en gammal man, and with the ending -1 otherwise, i.e. in agreement with neutrum nouns and when agreement is lacking, e.g. ett gammal-t hus 'an old house' att du kom var trevlig-t 'it was nice that you came'.

Adjectives can be divided into three comparation classes, according to what endings they take.

1 Comparative ending -are, superlative ending -ast> in the long form -äste, e.g. fin 'fine' finare/finast/finaste.

2 Comparative ending -re, superlative ending -st, in the long form: -sta/ste, e.g. stor 'big' större !störst!störstalstörste, läng 'long' längreHängst. These endings are often accompanied by umlaut and shortening, if possible. Only a few common adjectives belong to this class. Some of them are irregular in the stem or use suppletive stems, e.g. bra 'good' bättre/bäst, Uten 'small' mindre/minst.

3 Comparative ending -re, superlative ending -erst, in the long form: -ersta!-erste. For these forms, the positive is not an adjective, but an adverb, e.g. bort 'away', bortre 'more distant (of two)' borterst/bortersta 'most distant'. (The superlative could perhaps be analysed as containing both a comparative and a superlative ending.)

The comparative form is never inflected, like any adjective ending in a vowel. The superlative long form is for many speakers predominantly a definite form as in the positive, e.g. den godaste glassen 'the most delicious ice-cream', but for other speakers a form generally used attributively, as in en sista hälsning 'a last greeting'. The short form is always used for predicative adjectives, e.g. glasstrutar är godast 'ice-cream cones are most delicious', but is, for many speakers, common in certain attributive uses, too, e.g. Lisa lagar godast glass 'Lisa makes the most delicious ice-cream'.

A stem final /n/ in an unstressed syllable is lost before -t, e.g. öppen/öppet. Stressed final vowels are shortened before -t, which is lengthened and assimilates a final /d/, e.g. fri/fritt [frii, frit:], röd/rött [r0:d, r0t:]. The unstressed syllables /-er, -en, -al/ lose their vowel before syllabic endings, e.g. vacker 'beautiful' vackr-a/vackr-are/vackr-ast, oppen 'open' oppn-a/oppn-are/oppn-ast, gammal 'old' gaml-a.

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