German Language Blog

German Punctuation Posted by on Mar 2, 2022 in Grammar, Language

Guten Tag! Today we’re going to look at punctuation in German. This will include the names of different punctuation marks, as well as a few punctuation rules in German and how these differ to the English rules (or not).

German Punctuation

Firstly, we need to know what we’re dealing with; the word punctuation in German is die Interpunktion, or die Zeichensetzung. Punctuation marks are collectively known as die Satzzeichen (literally ‘sentence signs’). So what are the names of some common Satzzeichen in German?


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Die Satzzeichen – punctuation marks

Full stop . Der Punkt

Comma , Das Komma

Semi-colon ; Das Semikolon

Colon : Der Doppelpunkt (not to be confused with the anatomical colon, der Dickdarm!)

Question mark ? Das Fragezeichen

Exclamation mark ! Das Ausrufezeichen

Quotation marks “” Die Anführungszeichen

Apostrophe ‘ Der Apostroph

Ellipsis … Die Auslassungspunkte

Hyphen – Der Viertelgeviertstrich

Brackets/parentheses () Die runde Klammern


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Now let’s look at a few of the above, including how they are used in German, and how this differs to English usage.

Das Komma – Comma use

One way the German comma is used is to separate a main clause (der Hauptsatz) from a subordinate clause (der Nebensatz):

Er hat gesagt, er will nicht mitkommen.
He said he didn’t want to come with us.

Commas are also used in place of full-stops in prices; 29.95 becomes 29,95 in German.

Here is a great post from the archives on the German comma, if you’d like to read more! Comma rules: How to link main clauses in German | German Language Blog 

Der  Viertelgeviertstrich – Hyphen use

The Viertelgeviertstrich has different names, depending on how it is used:

  • der Bindestrich: Used for combining two or more words, eg. ‘Social-Media-Plattformen’.
  • der Ergänzungsstrich: Used to represent omitted parts of words, eg. ‘die Winter- und Sommerferien’: Winter and summer holidays. Used instead of saying ‘Die Winterferien und die Sommerferien’.
  • der Trennstrich: Used to connect parts of the same word when the whole word won’t fit onto one line.

Die Anführungszeichen – Quotation mark use

German quotation marks look noticeably different to English ones; instead of both being at the top of the quoted section, in German the first one is below, the second above:

English: “Coffee tastes good.”
German: „Kaffee schmeckt gut.”

German also uses these chevron-style quotation marks:

English: “Coffee tastes good.”
German: «Kaffee schmeckt gut.»


Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

I hope this has given you some more insight into German punctuation! If you’d like to learn more, here are a few related articles from our archive:

The most basic comma rule in German: Listing things, people, features, and actions

Using apostrophes in German

Gender-Neutral German: Das Gendersternchen

The Genitive Case: Showing Possession, part 1

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. D:

    Das ist so hilfreich! Danke schön!

  2. Sebastian:

    Hallo Constanze!
    Wie immer ein interessanter Artikel von dir. Zwei Anmerkungen hätte ich:
    1) Besser „Bindestrich“ statt „Bindenstrich“
    2) Die Chevron-artigen Anführungszeichen sind ja eigentlich die französischen Guillemets. Im Französischen stehen sie mit den Spitzen nach außen und einem Leerzeichen Abstand: « J’adore le café. »
    Im Deutschen (hier vorwiegend im Buchsatz verwendet) zeigen die Spitzen dagegen nach innen, ohne Abstand: »Ich liebe Kaffee.«
    Aber im Schweizerischen zeigen die Spitzen wieder nach außen (wie im Frz.), aber ohne Abstand: «Grüezi».

    Schöne Grüße!