The apostrophe ( ancient Greek ἀπόστροφος apóstrophos, the Rear facing '; via Latin apostrophus into German in the 17th century since the 18th century without a Latin ending ) or the ellipsis ( colloquially known as the apostrophe or the top line ) is a punctuation mark in the German language certain omissions identifies as ellipsis ( ellipsis ) in a word or necessarily the genitive of proper names shows that in the nominative already s- sound ( written on a: -s,- ss, -ß, - tz -z, -x, - ce ) end if they do not have an article, a possessive pronoun or the like with them.

  • 3.1 Special case of proper names
  • 3.2 Misuse
  • 3.3 Unregulated cases
  • 5.1 Digital Typography 5.1.1 Typographic correctly
  • 5.1.2 Typographic wrong
  • 5.1.3 installation of similar character
  • 5.1.4 Representation in HTML / XML


The use of apostrophes is not a new phenomenon especially in the genitive -s. Until the 19th century this spelling was common.

The Duden disapproved of this use of the apostrophe initially only: If genitives it was " not necessary " to put an apostrophe. Only in the reform of German orthography from 1901 this use has been declared irregular. In all periods of the 20th century cases of the now faulty Apostrophgebrauchs are occupied. Those who had learned before 1901 letter, frequently used to continue the apostrophe. So put in Thomas Mann nouns auslauten on vocal, regularly the genitive apostrophe: Baron Harry's, Johnny's, Erika's.

The first published after the liberation by the Allies issue a German newspaper, the Aachener Nachrichten of 24 January 1945 had as title headline Allied aircraft smashed Rundstedt 's retreat columns. Traditional trademarks with genitive apostrophe include Beck's beer, Kaiser's coffee shop or Hoffmann's starch factories.

Rule -compliant use of the German

The use of the apostrophe is to be written largely without conflict for the Contracting States since 2006. The valid spelling rules of the Institute for German Language updated at the free downloading held. Currently ( November 2013 ) is valid, the minor revision (2010 /1), as amended in 2004 /2006.

During the dispute relating to the reform of 1996 also the renowned linguistics professor Peter Eisenberg had turned and came as the actual counterparty 2005 on his membership in the German Academy for Language and Poetry in the Council for German Orthography and determined the reform of the reform with not inconsequential. In 2007, he put in a supplement to the official before a more reader-friendly and better causative rule - version, which should but that lead to the official results. 2013 published an improved edition. Especially in the area of the apostrophe, this presentation rule clarifications and relaxations.

The official rules in § 96 regulates the mandatory use of the apostrophe, in § 97 of the optional as ellipsis and ( § 97 e ) to illustrate the basic form of a personal name. The Apostrophgebrauch in adjectival derivations of proper names is defined by § 62, the effect of apostrophes at the beginning of a sentence to uppercase and lowercase § 54 (6).

Eisenberg - Wahrig 2013 regulates the Apostrophgebrauch in R61 and R55 with a derogation. The concise summary at the end of the book on page 94 states:

" The apostrophe is placed

  • , z, x end to the mark of the genitive of nouns which, ß to s: Delacroix 'painting, Peter Weiss ' family
  • For omissions of word parts: have ' it just suffer; that was ' a disaster
  • For discharges of names formed with -sch: Schubert's songs also: Schubert songs

To remove the genitive -s, the apostrophe may not in principle be set. Admitted he is merely illustrative of proper names: Christina's Flower Shop "


A function of the apostrophe is marking exuberant letters; predominantly read in the transcript of spoken language, especially in words that would otherwise be difficult to read or ambiguous:

With omissions in the word inside:

Occasionally, the apostrophe is also used in the composition preposition definite article, for example in 's, to 's, to 's, zu'r. According to the current rules an apostrophe but may be set only if the composition without the apostrophe " opaque " would be ( for example mit'm bike).

Illustrate the basic form of a proper name

It is here to Stammformapostroph. The application is optional here.

Adjectives of proper names

Not as ellipsis, but to illustrate the basic form of a personal name, the apostrophe is sometimes used before the adjective ending -ing ( -cal, cal ).

Genitive form

In proper names that end with an s- sound, the genitive form is formed by adding an apostrophe when these words have not an article, a possessive pronoun or the like with them. This also applies if -s, -x,- z are silent in the basic form and also for products from other languages ​​proper names: Alternatively, one can resort to the obsolete genitive form with - ens: " Klaus's friend Thomas". It is possible in this case, the description with " of" ( analytical form education):

In some cases ( as in the first example ) then use the description with "of" as colloquial.

A frequent use of the apostrophe that. Delimiter before the genitive -s as in John 's Warehouse According to the old German spelling rules this spelling in English was generally wrong. Examples:

  • Petra 's Nail Studio (false ) - true, however: Petra's Nail Studio
  • Grandpa 's leather pants (false ) - true, however: Grandpa's leather pants

According to the new German orthography, the apostrophe in the genitive may be occasionally used to illustrate the basic form of a personal name. Examples:

  • Andrea's Hair Salon: confusion with male name Andreas is avoided
  • Willi's hotdog stand
  • Mozart 's sonatas.

In contrast to other proper names are words that end with an s- sound or silent s, x or z, in the genitive generally not alone, but always have an article, possessive, demonstrative, or the like with them. Therefore, no apostrophe, as in the corresponding case for proper names used, ie:

  • The size of this corpus
  • The name of Pontifex
  • Winning the Grand Prix.

In such cases, the prefixing of the genitive attribute (that is, the formation of expressions of the form this corpus size or the Grand Prix profit) uncommon.

Other uses in the German

Special case of proper names


The apostrophe is a punctuation mark that is often used incorrectly. The overly frequent use is sometimes referred to as Apostrophitis. Polemically (1996-2006) was also spoken by the " Deppenapostroph " especially in the period between the reforms.


  • At very common omissions with " ... that " there is no apostrophe. Correct the use of: ans, on, in, over, Various; is wrong: at 's on it, in it, over it, under it.
  • Falsely separation of the joint -s with compound terms such as Bahnhof's restaurant.
  • When plural: Frequently apostrophes are incorrectly set during the plural form of loanwords and abbreviations. Examples: Auto's, snack 's, CD's. Correct is: cars, snacks, CDs.
  • In the imperative: Also foul is the apostrophe in the command form of the second person (eg, go with me. ) Since the disappearance of the former imperative ending- e is accepted as regular.
  • Chance also occur arbitrary apostrophes in other cases as in not 's, night 's, right 's, Wednesday 's and Saturday 's. In most cases, word endings of consonant and s are separated. Another example is staunst'e instead staunste or Prenz'lberg instead Prenzl'berg (or simply Prenzlberg ), or Nudel'n instead of noodles. A business center in Bochum- called Good 's by Anna in Vienna there are blacksmith ' Chen's oasis (with spaces).

Unregulated cases

  • The frequent in Bavarian dialects phonemes / l / and / N / ( syllabic consonants ) are written in dialect texts mostly without further identification as "l " and " n". With the acquisition of such words in standard German texts they resemble in some cases forms in which standard German - colloquially also [L ] and [N ], in stage- German pronunciation, however, [ əl ] or [ ən ] spoken and therefore " el " or " s "is written. Can for a standard German-influenced writers therefore erroneously be close, that in the notation " s " failed and therefore an apostrophe is put. A striking example is the name Oktoberfest ( dialect form of the singular " meadow " ) in Munich slang for the local Oktoberfest. This is not a shortening of the standard German plural meadows, yet is frequently the non-standard (but - as there is no set of rules for the spelling of Bavarian dialect forms - not irregular ) spelling " Oktoberfest ".

Use in other languages

In some languages, the apostrophe to avoid a hiatus (Latin vowel collision ) by means of elision (Latin: ēlīdere ~ knock out, push out ) is used. While the Germans a vowel clash is only in the word inside, usually with a Hiattrenner, bypassed ( Austro but america -n -ish ), two vowels at the end of a word and the beginning of that of the first word, for example, in the French and Italian language even when meeting ( usually an article) by an apostrophe replaces ( fr.: " la apostrophe " becomes " l' apostrophe " and it " una amica ," girlfriend, is to " un'amica " - NB. onto the apostrophe follows no spaces). But "un amico ": after " un" as apocope of " uno ", ie in male nouns, no apostrophe may be used.

In English, the apostrophe to indicate omission of letters is (do not ), ownership ( the cat 's whiskers ), and some of plural forms not used in the English established words ( Ps ), (late 1950 's). The non-differentiation of the written genitive and plural forms is seen in the English language as well as in German as wrong and sometimes referred to as " greengrocers ' apostrophe " (English: " greengrocers apostrophe " ) referred.

The incidence of single quotes in different languages ​​was based on translations of complex texts ( the Gospel and the draft European Constitution, number of apostrophes in 9000 sets - ie based on final points) compared. This resulted in:

In Czech and Slovak, the caron () looks at lowercase letters with ascenders like a trailing apostrophe, so the apostrophe as a substitute for the caron is used when the original character is not present. Example: d 'instead ď.

In the Latin transliteration of the Chinese ( Pinyin) and the Japanese, the apostrophe acts as hyphenation character; in Somaliland as well as in the Latin transliteration of Arabic and Hebrew as a sign for the glottal stop.

The thousands separator character used in English-speaking countries and also in Switzerland in spellings such as 34'034 is no apostrophe, but one minutes mark (english prime ). In the name of "Hawaii" no apostrophe is used, but a Okina. Refer to the installation of similar character.

Typographic form

The shape of the apostrophe comes from its use in manuscripts, where he was drawn by a point with a downward smear, which is curved in a clockwise direction, similar to a superscript comma. The apostrophe used in the typography is this form again. In later Serif Fonts is the form of the apostrophe, similar to the shape of a comma, more geometric or stylized.

Digital typography

Typographically correct

  • When using the keyboard mapping T2 according to the revised German Standard DIN 2137:2012-06 by Alt Gr 1
  • Windows by Alt 0146
  • Under Mac OS X with German keyboard layout by ⌥ ⇧ # in German -Swiss keyboard layout means ⌥ ⇧ !
  • Under Linux / X by pressing Alt Gr ⇧ B ( or Alt Gr ⇧ N at recent German layout )
  • The Neo keyboard layout on Mod3 0
  • Are generated at a keyboard layout with activated compose key by pressing Compose > '.
  • The German keyboard layout, the key combination ⇧ #
  • At Swiss keyboards is the right of the 0 a ' button that outputs the surrogate directly.

The surrogate ' (U 0027 ) is also used on other occasions:

  • In programming, it serves as a symbol with different meanings, for example, in certain BASIC dialects as a comment character or in ajar in C programming to identify a literal of the data type char (example: ' A').
  • Furthermore, (U 0027 ) is used as a surrogate for non-enterable similar characters, particularly representative of the Prime as symbols of Foot ( unit), and minute of arc (Example: 60 ' instead of 60 '). ( The Prime is now available on the keyboard mapping T2 according to DIN 2137:2012-06. )

Typographic wrong

Early computer character sets, such as 7- bit ASCII as well as on many typewriters no typographically correct apostrophe was provided, the straight apostrophe ' (English typewriter apostrophe ) was instead offered as a surrogate. Also the character set Latin-9/ISO 8859-15 mostly used for Western European languages ​​dispense with a corresponding character. Further, the character is not included in many modern keyboard layouts, and must be generated by shortcut keys as required. Many computer programs (such as word processing software) can also automatically detect the desired punctuation and convert typographically incorrect apostrophes in correct.

A secondary development of Apostrophsetzung is that today, sometimes one of the diacritics acute accent ( ') and grave accent (`) or right curly single quotation marks ( ') instead of the actual apostrophe (') is set, as both characters in many fonts confusingly similar.

Formation of similar character

Representation in HTML / XML

For a correct view in HTML documents, either the apostrophe entered directly or one of the following Entities are used.