When to use capital letters in German

When to use capital letters in German

Did you ever wonder why we write so many words with a capital letter in German? After reading this article, you will know the five cases that you need to write with capital letters.

During the development of language, the idea of writing some words with capital letters arose because people wanted to devote attention to certain words. In English, for instance, one writes country names, nationalities, religions or days with a capital letter.

Today, there are the following 5 cases that demand us to write the words in capital letters:

Capitalization at the beginning of the sentence

As like as in English and most of the languages that have capital and lower case letters, you need to write the first letter of a word in capital letters if it is the first word of a sentence.

Capitalization of proper names

Proper names are words that have a direct association with a thing. This could be names as Jochen, Maik or Melanie; places as “Kap der Guten Hoffnung“ or “Berlin”, streets “Magdeburger Straße”, books, brands or movies.

Capitalization of nouns

In German, we write all nouns with a capital letter. Nouns are these words that describe a “thing” or a “person” as “das Auto” or “die Frau”. Now, in case you are insecure if a word really is a noun, you can always check if it has some article for instance ein, eine, der, die, das, den, dem, meine, seinen, keine, viele etc.

Capitalization for substantiation

As in most of the languages, you can also form an adjective or a verb into a noun in German. An adjective becomes a noun when we use signal words as “wenig, viel, etwas…” as they indicate that a noun should follow. For instance, the adjective “neu” would become “viel Neues”. Besides, you can form every verb into a noun by simply using the infinitive form and add “das”: laufen – das Laufen; singen – das Singen.

Capitalization with polite form of address

Today, when writing in German, one only uses capital letters for the polite form of “Sie” (Sie (akk.); Ihnen (dat.); Ihrer (gen.) which we normally use when we speak with foreigners, officials and elderly people. Once, this was also used for addressing “du” in letters, but it was changed by the “Spelling reform” and therefore is not used anymore today.

Conclusion

Now, after reading this article, you might have found out, that the rules of when to write a word with capital letters are not so complicated. Germans do indeed pay attention to this aspect of their language, and this is why your new knowledge will help you improve your German skills.

 

Bis bald!

Steffie

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