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German punctuation: Die Anführungszeichen

Die Anführungszeichen

Four German punctuation marks - quotation marks, the apostrophe, the comma and the dash - differ from their English counterparts in terms of how they are used.

Die Anführungszeichen

Difference German usage English usage
Marks

* Generally, chevron-style marks are used in books

Beispiel:
Die Prinzessin sagte: «Du garstiger Frosch!»

(or)

Die Prinzessin sagte: »Du garstiger Frosch!«

* In newspapers and other printed material, German quotation marks are used (i.e., the opening quotation mark is below the line rather than above)

Beispiel:
Die Prinzessin sagte: Du garstiger Frosch!"

* International quotation marks are used in all types of texts

Example: The princess said, "You nasty frog!"

Introducing a quotation

A colon is used to introduce a direct quote.

Beispiel:
Sie sagten: «Das Mädchen ist sehr schön.»

A comma is used to introduce a direct quote.

Example:
They said, "The little girl is very beautiful."

Ending a quotation

At the end of a quotation, the comma is placed outside the quotation mark.

Beispiel:
"Die sieben Zwerge sind sehr fleißig", sagte Schneewittchen.

At the end of a quotation, the comma is placed inside the quotation mark.

Example:
"The seven dwarves are really hard-working," said Snow White.

Quotations vs. italics

* Quotation marks are used for the titles of poems, articles, short stories, songs and TV shows.

Beispiel:
Hänsel und Gretel" ist ein Grimm-Märchen.

* Quotation marks are also used for the titles of books, novels, films, dramatic works and the names of newspapers or magazines.

Beispiel:
Die Brüder Grimm haben Kinder- und Hausmärchen" geschrieben.

* Single quotation marks are used for the titles of poems, articles, short stories, songs and TV shows.

Example:
'Hänsel and Gretel' is a Grimm fairy tale.

* The titles of books, novels, films, dramatic works and the names of newspapers or magazines are either italicized or underlined.

Example:
The brothers Grimm wrote Children's and Household Tales.

Quotations within quotations

* Single quotation marks (halbe Anführungszeichen) are used for a quotation within a quotation.

Beispiel:
",Hänsel und Gretel' ist ein Grimm-Märchen", sagte Dornröschen.

* Single quotation marks are used for a quotation within a quotation

Example:
"'Hänsel and Gretel' is a Grimm fairy tale," said Sleeping Beauty.

 

Source: Grimm's Grammar