Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

German punctuation: Der Apostroph

Der Apostroph

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.

Der Apostroph

Difference German usage English usage
Genitive possession

* Generally, genitive possession is indicated with just an -s at the end of a name or noun.

Beispiel:
Aschenputtels Stiefmutter

* When a name or noun ends with an s sound (i.e., spelled -s, -ss, -ß, -tz, -z, -x, -ce), genitive possession is indicated with just an apostrophe

Beispiel:
des Prinz' Ross

* Genitive possession is indicated with both an apostrophe and an -s

Example:
Cinderella's stepmother

Example: The prince's steed

Missing letters

* Missing letters in contractions, slang, dialect, idiomatic expressions or poetic phrases are indicated with an apostrophe

Beispiele:
wie geht's? (wie geht es?)
ich hab' (ich habe)

* In some common contractions with definite articles, no apostrophe is used

Beispiele:
ins (in das)
zum (zu dem)

* Missing letters in contractions, slang, dialect, idiomatic expressions or poetic phrases are indicated with an apostrophe

Examples:
how's it going? (how is it ...?)
I've (I have)

Source: Grimm's Grammar