punctuation rules in English and German

mike   Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:27 am GMT

Do punctuation marks in German are used in same rules as in Englisn?

I mean the Full stops/Periods, commas, semicolons, question marks and brackets ...
Guest   Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:55 am GMT
>>Do punctuation marks in German are used in same rules as in Englisn? <<

Most of the time. But there are some differences, particularly when it comes to quotations.

In German, quotations can either be placed between guillemets (like in French):

«Wir gehen am Dienstag.»

Or between quotation marks that look like this:

„Wir gehen am Dienstag.”

When introducing a quote, a colon is used instead of a comma:

Er sagte: „Wir gehen am Dienstag.”
Er sagte: «Wir gehen am Dienstag.»

English: He said, “We’ll go on Tuesday.”

When ending a quotation with “he said” or “she asked” in German, the comma is placed outside of the quotation mark, while in American English, the comma goes inside the quotation mark:

„Wir gehen am Dienstag”, sagte Paul.

“We’ll go on Tuesday,” said Paul.
Parisien   Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:11 pm GMT
A German specificity is that subordinate clauses are introduced by a comma: "Er wußte, daß sie wußte, daß er es wußte".
("He knew that she knew that he knew it")

When giving a lecture in German, each time you come across a comma you have to make sure right away if it's intended as a pause for breathing, or just a grammatical comma.
Skippy   Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:26 pm GMT
Also, in most American schools nowadays you're taught to use a comma before "and" in lists. ex. I play guitar, bass, and drums. In German they maintain the older comma-less and.