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Introduction to adjectives

Adjectives in Icelandic are a class of words used to describe, or modify, nouns and pronouns.

When used with a noun (predicatively), the adjective🇮🇸 lýsingarorð comes before it, but when used about the subject of the sentence (as a complement), it comes after vera:

Georg keypti sér flottan svartan jakka.
Jakkinn var dýr.

For an introduction to adjective inflection, see Positive.


Icelandic adjectives inflect (change their endings) for:

  • Gender and number (masculine🇮🇸 karlkyn, feminine🇮🇸 kvenkyn, neuter🇮🇸 hvorugkyn; singular🇮🇸 eintala, plural🇮🇸 fleirtala)
  • Case (nominative🇮🇸 nefnifall, accusative🇮🇸 þolfall, dative🇮🇸 þágufall, genitive🇮🇸 eignarfall)
  • Definiteness (strong🇮🇸 sterk beyging, weak🇮🇸 veik beyging)
  • Degree (positive🇮🇸 frumstig, comparative🇮🇸 miðstig, superlative🇮🇸 efsta stig)

Gender and number

Icelandic adjectives inflect for all three genders, masculine🇮🇸 karlkyn, feminine🇮🇸 kvenkyn and neuter🇮🇸 hvorugkyn, and both numbers, singular🇮🇸 eintala and plural🇮🇸 fleirtala.

Most adjectives follow a similar pattern:

  • Singular – Masculine: default form; feminine: remove ending and apply U-shift if applicable; neuter: remove ending and add t.
  • Plural – Remove ending and add -ir for masculine -ar for the feminine. For the neuter, remove the ending and apply U-shift if applicable (so the same as feminine singular).

These rules apply only to the nominative case, of course, but they are a good starting point. Click through the tabs below to see how different adjectives apply these rules: