Reform of the German spelling from 1996 / innovations

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This article lists the most important innovations in the German spelling reform of 1996, including the updates that have taken place since then. The resulting debate is dealt with in the article on the reform of German spelling from 1996 / Pros and Cons .


As part of the reform of German spelling in 1996 , the current spelling rules were extensively revised. The new spelling, which has been in effect since 1996, was changed in both 2004 and 2006, which resulted in new sets of rules. In addition, there were updates to this set of rules in 2011 and 2017, as well as an editorial adjustment of the foreword in 2018. The current spelling rules thus correspond to the 2006 version of the 2018 version.

In literature and public discussion, the term new (German) spelling is used to a large extent , sometimes “reformed spelling” or “reformed spelling”.

The regulation, which is valid until 1996, is also referred to in the following text as “ traditional (German) spelling ”.

Changes to the 1996 reform from traditional spelling

The reform affected the following areas, for which only individual examples will be given here.

Subject area traditional spelling reformed spelling
Sound-letter assignment: e / ä stem Stalk
Sound-letter assignment: ß / ss Kiss kiss
Sound-letter assignment: triple consonants Ballet dancer Ballet Dancers
Sound-letter assignment: foreign words orthography Orthography or orthography
Separated and summarized: verbs to go biking to go biking
Separated and combined: adverbs how much how much
Hyphenated spelling 3 tons 3 ton truck
Upper and lower case: nouns in relation to in relation to
Upper and lower case: adjectives in German in German
Punctuation: Through and introduced main clauses The snow melted away and soon the first flowers appeared and the birds began their song. The snow melted away and soon the first flowers could be seen and the birds started their song.
Word separation at the end of the line Sugar Sugar

Some newly introduced spellings have been declared invalid again by subsequent reforms of the reform, in other cases the use of traditional spelling alongside the reformed spelling has been made optional. For the reasons for the changes and their regularity, as well as for further examples, see the comments below on the 2006 version .

Changes after 1996

In 2004 some rules were modified and other spellings were allowed as variants. In 2006 there were extensive changes to the rules. For the first time, additional spellings were declared invalid. The latter are now just as obsolete in schools and official traffic as are those that have not been valid since 1996.

Spelling changes in 2004 compared to 1996

The revision of the official regulation in 2004 has not yet revoked any of the spellings introduced in 1996, but further variants have been added.

  • In addition to being sorry , a new variant was introduced to be sorry .
  • In the case of fixed combinations of prepositions and declined adjectives without a preceding article, capitalization was also allowed in addition to lower case: from new / new, by far / far, until further / further, for a long time / for a long time, within a short / short time.
  • In the case of certain connections with participle, the positive forms written together were also allowed again: e.g. B. next time saving again saving time (according to the comparative time-saving and superlative at most time ).

Spelling changes in 2006 compared to 2004

On March 2, 2006, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) adopted the changes proposed by the Council for German Spelling , which have been in effect since August 1, 2006 and became binding on August 1, 2007. The writer is now even more free than before to choose one or the other spelling. However, some changes are binding, which means that older reform variants are considered incorrect.

Separate and combined writing

  • Verb particles , which form unstable compositions, are no longer just prepositions and a tightly prescribed number of adverbs, but practically all adverbs, as long as they have the main tone (e.g. stay together ). If the verb carries the stress, you write apart: dance together, walk one after the other, learn from each other ...
  • Verb + Verb: In the case of combinations of two verbs with remain and let as the second component, if the meaning is transferred according to § 34 E7, it is possible to write them together again, e.g. B. lie down, sit down, let stand ; the same goes for getting to know each other .
  • Noun + verb: Summarizing as a composition or hyphenation as a group of words is now possible, except for thanks / saying thanks and guaranteeing / guaranteeing, also for careful / pay attention, pay attention / pay attention, stop / stop, measure / measure and in cases such as marathon running / marathon running, vacuuming / vacuuming .
  • faded noun + verb: the verbs eislaufen, umstandigen and nottun are only treated as compounds (upper and lower case letters are also affected here): seafaring is necessary ...
  • Adjective + Verb: The verb to be sorry is now only treated as a compound (upper and lower case is also affected): I'm sorry
  • Adjective + Verb: If a simple adjective represents the result of the process, it can be separated or written together: stay away / stay away, come closer / come closer, full load / full load, keep warm / keep warm ... ; In the case of a new meaning, the following must be written together: short-term work, correcting, difficult ... In place of the regulations with adjectives that can be increased or adjectives with the suffixes -ig , -isch , -lich , the phrase “connections with morphologically complex or extended adjectives” has been used.
  • Unflexed adjective + adjective: If the meaning of the 1st adjective is graded, it is possible to write separately or together: early ripe / early ripe, easily digestible / easily digestible, difficult to train / difficult to train ...
  • Adjectival participles: Separate or combined spelling is possible as since 2004: general educational / general educational, seeking help / seeking help; small checkered / small checked, self-marketing / self-marketing ...

Large and lower case

  • faded nouns + to be / stay / become: too fear, fear ... are new enemy, friend, class, pointy and wrong : I am enemy of him. - That remains wrong. ...
  • right / right and wrong / wrong + keep, get, give, have, do: Upper and lower case is permitted: I am completely right / right , we give you right / right. You do me wrong / wrong. ...
  • Preposition + declined adjective (without article): Here, as since 2004, both spellings are correct: until further notice / further notice, recently / recently ...
  • Preposition + undeclined adjective (without article): as before, lower case, now also with make it your own
  • Adjective + noun in a fixed connection, (which are not proper names): Generally speaking, lower case letters: autogenic training, the new year, the green widow ... Upper
    case is also permitted if the meaning is transferred: the blue letter, the bulletin board - but only for special
    purposes Emphasis.
    Only technical language can make other determinations, such as the red card, the golden ratio, the minor request, first aid.
Inconsistent upper and lower case of pronouns of the 2nd person plural
Salutation Pronouns

The requirement of the 1996 reform to generally only capitalize the second person pronouns used for addressing was withdrawn in 2006 insofar as pronouns that are also grammatically second person, i.e. you , her and its derivatives, are now optionally capitalized in letters. or may be written in lower case.

Word separation

  • Individual vowel letters at the beginning of the word or in front of or behind the word fugue in compounds ( compound words) may no longer be separated, i.e. no longer a-ber, O-fen, E-cke, Sonna-bend, Ge-ografie (2006 § 107 E1).
  • The separation immediately after prefixes is retained, e.g. B. Instance, construction, problem , according to § 112 (2004) or § 113 (2006), this only applies if the prefix is ​​recognized and perceived as such. In the case of foreign words in particular, there are new ways of separating them (instance, construction, problem) , which dictionary publishers handle very differently.
  • Separations such as full should no longer be permitted due to the "more clearly defined rule hierarchy".


Changes in the order of sentences with and , or etc.
  • Subordinate clauses same degree may no longer be separated by a comma (§ 72): I am assuming that he do errands t u nd that he comes back soon. - He did not say anything, not that he is insolvent t n needs och that he help. ...
  • The same applies to the ranking of main clauses (§ 72). You can use a comma here to clarify the structure (§ 73): She went out the door (,) and he never saw her again. - In addition to the possibility of deliberately connecting the sentence contents less strongly with one another than without a comma (pause in speaking), but also not as strongly separated as with a full stop (instead of comma), one can avoid misunderstandings when assigning subject and predicate : The police arrested the main suspect (,) and his wife and their three children, who were in the same apartment, witnessed this.
Changes when dependent on a correlate or reference word
  • Infinitive, participle, adjective or other equivalent groups of words are delimited by a comma when they depend on a correlate or reference word: this is how , checking each address, we finally found it. - This is the only way I can remember my uncle, bitter and in a wheelchair. - Packed with the rucksack, we stood at the door. ...
Changes to syntactic special status
  • Infinitive, participle, adjective or other corresponding word groups are separated by a comma if they are to be seen as additions added to a noun or pronoun and thus fall out of the usual sentence structure: He, laughing out loud, came up to me. The class, ready for the outing, was gathered in the schoolyard. Cora, beside herself with joy, fell on Peter's neck. He came up to me, laughing out loud. The class was gathered in the schoolyard, ready for the outing. Cora fell around Peter's neck, beside herself with joy. ...
Changes to the infinitive with zu
  • Infinitive with to , no , instead , instead , except , as too have to be separated again with commas: He went out to smoke. - Instead of helping, he berated his friends. - You had no choice but to turn a good face into a bad game. ...
  • Infinitives that depend on a noun, i.e. are used attributively, have to be separated again with commas (possibly in pairs): His suggestion not to go on the excursion met with little approval. - It's not fun to go for a walk in this weather . ...
  • Infinitives that depend on a reference word must be separated with a comma (possibly in pairs): Anita prefers to sleep in late . - Regina had not so expected, but still reach the goal, and beamed from ear to ear. ...
  • Mere infinitives that depend on a noun, a correlate or a reference word do not require a comma: I don't feel like (,) going. - I am not thinking of going. - She had long since made up the plan (to leave). ...

Extension of the scope

As variants to home and at home so far for Switzerland and Austria were back home and home approved. Since 2006, these variants have also applied in the other countries involved in the reform.

Country-specific special regulation

For Austria, in addition to the spelling fun , the variant fun was also permitted.

Updates 2011 and 2017

So-called updates came into force in both 2011 and 2017. In contrast to the changes from 2004 and 2006, they do not represent any new regulations, but merely revisions of the official regulations from 2006.

In the 2011 update, only the variant spellings of some foreign words were changed; this only affected 20 entries in the official dictionary. Above all, variant spellings were deleted (e.g. boutiques for boutiques).

The 2017 update was a bit more extensive and affected both the set of rules and the dictionary. In the rules have been especially § 25 E3 ( ß as a capital letter in the use of capital letters , so that now both road and STRAẞE allowed) and § 63 changed. Paragraph 63 was significantly revised and now also replaces the outdated Paragraph 64 from the 2011 version; the changes relate to the lower or upper case of adjectives. After the 2017 update, capitalization of adjectives is also allowed if they are part of an overall idiomatic meaning, i.e. H. when the connection as a whole takes on a new meaning (e.g. the bulletin board in the sense of a notice board). However, the application of this innovation is not compulsory, it is left to your own discretion. The changes in the dictionary relate to these updates.

In addition, the set of rules was updated again in January 2018, but these were only editorial adjustments in Section 3 of the Foreword, which refer to country-specific variations and have no effect on the dictionary itself.

Version from 2006

The new regulations in the 2004 version compared to the spelling that was common before 1996 are divided into the following areas:

  • the relationship between sounds and letters (this also includes the rules for spelling foreign words);
  • Large and lower case;
  • Separate and condensed writing;
  • Spelling with hyphen ;
  • Punctuation;
  • Word separation at the end of the line (which, even after the new regulation, is not necessarily a hyphenation according to spoken syllables, but emphasizes this principle even more).

The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in Germany considered undisputed:

  • the relationship between sounds and letters (this also includes the rules for spelling foreign words);
  • Large and lower case;

These spellings have been binding for German schools since August 1st, 2005.

They were initially considered disputed

  • Separate and condensed writing;
  • Punctuation;
  • Word separation at the end of the line.

The Council for German Spelling , which consists of representatives from six German-speaking countries and succeeded the Commission from Germany, Austria and Switzerland ( Intergovernmental Commission for German Spelling ), drafted amendments to these points .

Sounds and letters

Street name sign with triple consonant and Heysescher s spelling (instead of the earlier ßs ) in Aachen
The Schloßstraße in Berlin-Steglitz retains the spelling with
ßs, which differs from the new rules
Shield with triple consonant

The reform tries to systematize the relationship between sounds and letters and to strengthen the root principle.

Spelling of ss and ß

The Reformed spelling uses the Heysean s spelling , while the traditional spelling uses the Adelung s spelling . According to the Reformed spelling, ß only comes after a long vowel and a diphthong : the measure - of measure; pour - it pours; outside - extreme; Kreißen - delivery room. After a short stressed vowel is ss not only when another vowel follows, but before consonants and at the end of a syllable where traditional letters a ß is (river, kiss, must, wet suits, crack, aqueous) . The representation of the voiceless [s] sound was thus approximated to the use of single and double consonants when writing other sounds:

Bass - bass - bass tone Fall - Fall - Fallgate
Measure - measure - moderate Council - councils - advisable

The simple s was retained in the reform, with a few exceptions, including the suffix -nis , e.g. result . This means that ß has changed from a typographical variant ( ligature ) for closely related, inseparable ss to a letter with an independent function that, like individual other consonant letters, does not appear twice; instead ss is written.

As in traditional spelling ß by ss replaced if it does not exist in the character set or the whole word in capital letters ( capital letters , capital letters, capital letters ) is written. The paraphrase SZ , which has not been used for a long time, does not include the reformed spelling. In official documents, therefore, ß is usually retained to distinguish between proper names such as white (WHITE) and white (WHITE); in general vocabulary, the two cases of confusion between penance / penalty (BUSSE) and measure / mass (MASSE) occur. The use of a capital ß has been suggested on various occasions for typographical reasons .

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, ß is not used, instead it is always written ss .

Triple consonants and triple vowels

Where three identical vowels coincide in compound words, according to the old spelling there were different rules for nouns and lowercase words: Nouns were then written with a hyphen, as in elephant seal , while lowercase words such as adjectives and participles are to be written together, i.e. with a triple vowel, about sea ​​experience .

According to the reformed spelling, nouns are to be written together with a triple vowel just like lower -case words, i.e. elephant seal and sea- experienced .

According to the old spelling, triple consonants were only found where the following component of a compound word begins with a consonant combination: oxygen bottle , workshop stairs . If the following word component begins with only one consonant, which is similar to the preceding double consonant, one of the three identical consonants has been omitted from the composition.

In the Reformed spelling, all three consonants are always retained, so that triple consonants now appear quite often, for example in shipping , walking pace , betting , river valley . The only exceptions are the words noon and nonetheless , since, according to the reformers, they are no longer perceived as compound. This also applies to the word third , also cited as an exception , which is etymologically a third part, i.e. a third part, since the original ending -teil , weakened to -tel , and mutilated with the loss of the third consonant , attached to the stem of the ordinal number to -el , is appended: Third-el , analogous to fourth-el and fifth-el , has not been written with two ts for a long time.

To make reading easier, the hyphen can be used more freely than in traditional writing: Oxygen bottle .

New double consonants

Some single consonants after a short vowel have been replaced by double consonants:

  • In words where they were previously only doubled when adding a suffix: ace (because of: the ace, the aces ), caramel (because of: caramel ), mop (because of: mopping ), tip (because of: to tap )
  • In a few words, for they can be prepared derivation relationships: Messner (reformed to: Fair , in addition to the traditional form Mesner ) number (to: number ), tap [ceiling] (to: quilting ); Clumsy (to: great ). Accordingly, a few words are changed to ck or tz : stucco, plasterer (because of: stucco ); place (because of: space ).
  • This does not apply to words that are still widely understood as foreign words or where the vowel before the consonant can also be pronounced long: Mob = mob (despite bullying ), numerals and numerical (despite numbering )
  • The suffixes -in ( messenger , in spite of: messengers ) and -nis ( certificate , despite: certificates ) are also excluded.

New rules for ä and e

Due to partly proven, partly associative derivation relationships (see folk etymology ), the spelling of the short, stressed [ɛ] sound in some words was changed from e to ä : Bändel (to tape ); nimble (to hand ); lamified (to lamb ); Ounces (to quantums ); blow your nose (to nose ); Stem (to rod and linkage, yet still Stenge [on the sailing ship]); Chamois (because of chamois ); exuberant (to exuberance ); beat into , turn blue (for blue ). The spelling consuming (at cost ) was as a possible alternative to the still prevailing spelling consuming (to spend introduced).

However, it is written unchanged with e , where the connection to a as with parents (from old ) or England (from Anglo-Saxons ) is far behind or where a is to be regarded as the derived sound and e as the basic form. So to set does not mean to make a sentence , but sentence means what is set .

Regularization of individual cases

  • rough (traditionally: rough ) like blue, gray, exactly , therefore roughness only with an h
  • Kangaroo like cockatoo, wildebeest (but not like cow )
  • Föhn also means " hair dryer " (" Fön " is a brand name of AEG )
  • Rawness and toughness , as an exception, however, unchanged Highness

Approval of alternative spellings

There are allowed, for example: nightmare as nightmare , nightmares , such as nightmares , consuming as consuming , Messner as sacristan .

Foreign words

In the official system, the spelling of foreign words falls under the chapter sound-letter relationship.

The starting point of the new regulation is the observation that frequently used foreign words after decades of use are no longer perceived as foreign words and are then increasingly written according to the same sound-letter relationship as domestic words. Examples: Coulissebackdrop ; Bureauoffice ; Shawlscarf ; Strikestrike , telephonetelephone , photographyphotography . The new regulation is intended to support this adaptation process through targeted variants (lexical cross-references from German to original spelling or vice versa).

New variants are introduced: differential , potential , potential , substantial , parallel to the already naturalized financial , tendency ; Wallet ; Exposé next to exposé as already in Allee , Püree ; Dolphin next to dolphin , tuna next to tuna , panther next to panther , yoghurt next to yoghurt .

In words with the stems (endings) -phon, -phot, -graph , ph can in principle be replaced by f . However, this possibility of substitution does not apply to all words that contain a ph . For the words alphabet, philosophy, physics, amphetamine, physiognomy , only the spelling with ph is still valid .

In one individual case, a fairly widespread integrated spelling was not adopted because it contradicts today's rules for pronunciation in the ß-spelling: For the geographical name Pußta , the official dictionary only provides the spelling Puszta (e.g. Pusztasalat ), the corresponds to Hungarian spelling.

On the basis of its research, the Spelling Council recommended in December 2010 that the spelling of a total of 20 foreign words be adapted to the development of writing. Since these are only isolated cases, none of the rules had to be changed. In the regulations, however, the examples have been revised accordingly and the dictionary has been updated; the Council published the two new versions in July 2011.

Large and lower case

General rules

In German, the following are generally capitalized:

  • all ("real") nouns
  • substantiated adjectives u. Participles
    with article (the good)
    with preposition (in blue)
    with numerals (little, much exciting)
    with pronouns (same, those made)
  • substantiated infinitives
    with article: a knock
    with preposition: with trembling
    with pronouns: his stuttering
    with bent adjective: speaking out loud (but: speaking out loud )
  • the first word of a full sentence
  • the first word after a colon if it is followed by a whole sentence and not a list
  • the first word of a verbatim speech


The lower case is specified after the colon, unless a separate sentence follows (see above) (in traditional spelling, a distinction was made between announcement and summary / conclusion). If a colon is followed by a direct speech, the following is only capitalized as before: Annoyed, she said: "Everything is changing!"

Salutation Pronouns

In the case of a personal salutation, the second person's pronouns used for salutation may now be capitalized or lowercase (§ 66 E), i.e. you or you , her or your , your or yours , yours or yours . Outside of personal salutations, lower case letters are used. The exclusive lower case of the pronouns in question continues to apply where it was in place before 1996, e.g. when reproducing speeches, dialogues, etc. Ä., In protocols, brochures, textbooks, etc. The salutation "You", on the other hand, is to be capitalized in any type of text to distinguish it from an actual third person and was also between 1996 and the modifications.

Proper names and fixed terms

Multi-part proper names can contain other parts of speech than nouns: these match the capitalization of proper names: the Leaning Tower of Pisa , the Middle East , the Swiss Federal Railways .

Some fixed terms from adjectives and nouns were capitalized according to traditional spelling, although they are not proper names in the strict sense. The reform has not changed this in the following areas:

  • Title: Your Royal Highness , First Mayor ;
  • Species, subspecies or races in biology: wire-haired alpine rose , red kite ;
  • special calendar days: Christmas Eve , White Sunday ;
  • historical events (proper names according to § 60 (6)): the Peace of Westphalia , the Franco-German War .

According to the traditional spelling, there were also individual unsystematic exceptions that had to be capitalized. In 1996 these connections were made lower case . According to the modifications of the reform, the adjective may be capitalized or lowercase in such combinations if an independent overall meaning has developed that goes beyond the meaning of the individual parts, for example the bulletin board or the bulletin board, black art or the black art, the last will or the last will, the holy war or the holy war. But the expressions black humor (old and new) and black magic (new, capitalized before 1996), for example, are only written in lower case because "black" has the common connotation "bad".

Adjectives derived from personal names

When writing the derivatives of personal names in -ish or -sch , traditional spelling distinguished between personal achievement or affiliation and secondary naming: the Victorian Age (the Age of Victoria), but the Victorian style ; Ohm's law (found by Ohm himself), but the ohmic resistance (just named after Ohm). In the new spelling, these adjectival derivatives of proper names (mostly personal names), like all others in -ish and -sch, are basically written in lower case. But only if no further proper name is generated by a phrase. Such is z. B. generated by Halley's comet or Ohm's law .

The adjective derived from it is capitalized only if the proper name is separated by an apostrophe to emphasize it and thus appears as something independent: the ohmic resistance (overall no proper name), but the ohmic resistance .
If the adjective and noun generate a proper name - in such a case, as defined above for proper name, always capitalized, i.e.: the Meyersche Verlagbuchhandlung (as proper name), but also the Meyer'sche Verlagbuchhandlung .

Noun and adjectival use of the same words

The capitalization of nouns has been modified to reduce the difficulty of distinguishing substantive and non-substantive use; In this point, too, the new regulation relates increasingly to formal criteria and leads to a slight increase in capitalization.

  • In fixed connections the following principle applies: with hyphenation capitalized: in relation to , in relation to ; in favor , but also in favor , at the expense , but also at the expense ; Driving a car , cycling , standing in line , running the risk , questioning , but also questioning ; disregard , beware ; To be afraid, to be afraid ; Speak right . But: ice skating .
  • Times of day after the adverbs the day before yesterday , yesterday , today , tomorrow , the day after tomorrow are capitalized according to § 55 (6): this morning , yesterday evening . In connection with weekdays, however, according to § 37 (1.1), the following is usually written together: on / every / next Tuesday evening .
  • The adjectives that are close to the indefinite pronouns much , little , one , other (with all their inflection and intensification forms: so also more , most ) are usually written in lower case as in traditional spelling, but can also be capitalized for reinforcement: the true backgrounds were known only to a few. Most have seen this film before. Some come, some go. But also emphasizes: She was striving for something completely different (= completely different).
  • Adjectives with a demonstrative meaning, on the other hand, like other substantiated adjectives, are always capitalized: She said the same thing. We have never seen anything like it. Make a note of the following: ... In the traditional spelling, the substantiated adjective is capitalized as first , last, without any nuances in meaning .
  • Superlatives with am , after which one with how? questions are written in lower case: the lion roared loudly - louder - loudest. But: that's the best you can do.
  • The rule of traditional spelling, which distinguishes, for example, between sitting on dry land (= having no money) and sitting on dry land (= having solid ground under your feet) , has been abolished: substantiated adjectives are always capitalized in fixed idioms as well: pure bring; to fish in murky waters; grope in the dark; lose out; give to the best. This also applies to expressions that are not firmly connected to a verb: These orchids bloom in secret. The other building was considerably higher. We basically agree. We didn't even think about that. She explained the matter to me in detail. We have discussed everything in length and breadth. Adjustments were made on a case-by-case basis: instead of children; in retrospect, in advance.
    • Some fixed adverbial expressions can be written in both lowercase and uppercase, including: for a long time / for a long time, from near / near, by far / far, without further notice / further.
  • When in doubt, language and color names are great: In East Africa, it is best to communicate in Swahili or English. The traffic light turns red. We deliver the device in gray or black.
  • Non-declined pair formulas are uniformly capitalized: This is a festival for young and old. Before the law, rich and poor are equal . People of the same kind stick together.

Separate and combined writing

Separate and combined spelling has not yet been regulated. Based on the answers to individual questions, the Duden editorial team initially made individual decisions in the dictionary over the course of the twentieth century, and later tried to describe regularities. According to traditional spelling, “literal” usage should tend to be separated, and “transferred” usage should be written together: Despite the snow-covered streets, it made good progress. but she has made good career progress. Or: the visitors stopped. (= continued to stand), but the visitors stopped. (= have made a stop).

According to the reformers of 1996, this regulation was confusing, complicated and unsystematic. The new regulation wanted to define the spelling separately and combined only by means of formal grammatical rules - differences in meaning and accentuation should no longer justify different spelling and the separate spelling should be considered the normal case. However, this new regulation was subsequently heavily controversial and was therefore revised again, whereby preference was again given to the semantics and the use of compound words that are characteristic of the German language , i.e. the “trend towards aggregation”. As a result, the current spelling is now based more on the meaning of the words, and thus almost the same rules apply in this regard as before 1996. Finally, since March 2006, the “official” case is no longer the normal case.

Hyphenated spelling

The unchanged obligatory hyphen in compositions such as bow-legs , any number , VHF transmitter , should also be in compositions with numbers: the 8-pounder , the 27-tonne , 375-sided , 99 percent , 37-year-old . The rule of adding suffixes without a hyphen is taken over by the new regulation: the 68 . The spelling follows from this: a group of 25 . In addition to the 90s , however, the 90s are also permitted, in contrast to traditional spelling, without reference to different meanings (age / epoch).

The optional use of the hyphen to clarify the structure of compound words has been released: in addition to flower pot horses and lake narrow (as in traditional writing), flower pot earth and lake narrow can also be written. However, this rule is primarily intended to increase the legibility of particularly long compounds ( plastic window framesplastic window frames ). For semantic reasons, common (i.e. those that form a fixed term) and / or short compounds should not be written with a hyphen (e.g. caretaker , table football , bicycle lamp , boxing match ). For the same reasons, it is important to ensure that the hyphen is set correctly (e.g. soccer world championship , soccer world championship but not soccer world championship ).


A considerable difficulty in punctuation according to traditional spelling is seen not only in the content of the rules, but above all in their confusing, finely branched design. The new set of rules contains a more simply structured set of basic rules, which bring about the following changes in particular:

Conjunctions like and and or also replace the comma between main clauses, as in a list. However, this comma can be used and can, for example, structure a confusing sentence or avoid a reading that is initially ambiguous:

  • We are still waiting for you and the children go ahead.

The use of commas is only mandatory in certain cases for infinitive and participle groups, for example when they depend on an announcing word:

  • I came not to improve everything.

A comma must also be used for infinitive groups with as , instead of , except , without , instead of or around :

  • She offered to help me without a moment's hesitation.

In some sentences no comma is required, but it avoids misunderstandings:

  • I advise you to help him. Or: I advise him to help.

After a direct speech there is always a comma in front of the accompanying sentence next to the quotation mark, even if the direct speech ends with a question mark or exclamation mark:

  • "I'll be right back," she said.
  • “When are you coming?” She asked me.
  • She shouted, "I'll be right back!" And went out.

Word separation at the end of the line

The first basic rule in the reformed spelling is to separate according to spoken syllables (Section 107 of the set of rules). The second basic rule remains unchanged that of consecutive consonants only the last one is placed on the next line (examples: sticky, electrical ; § 108; set of rules 2006: § 110), whereby “letter combinations like ch, sch; ph, rh, sh or th ”are not separated if they stand for“ a consonant ”, as the individual letters cannot be divided into different syllables (new set of rules, similarly according to the old rule). They come to the next line without being separated.

What is new in the reformed regulation is the provision when restrictions or exceptions to these basic rules are permitted. This is partly the case in cases where the composition of a word from word components does not follow the spoken syllables. In addition, the new individual stipulation that ck also applies to “letter combinations such as ch, sch; ph, ... “and therefore must not be separated according to the second basic rule.

The following applies in detail:

Earlier hyphenation rules, which result from the original composition of words, but contradict the two basic rules, only apply alternatively in the new spelling. (Already in traditional writing there were some cases where separations according to spoken syllables were allowed, even if they contradict the original composition of words: al-lein, Tran-sit, Epi-sode, Te-trarch (today: Tet-rarch ) instead of all-one, Trans-it, Epis-ode, Tetr-arch, etc.)

This concerns:

  • German words which, in the opinion of the commission, are no longer perceived as compound and in which there is no longer a verbal syllable boundary after the consonant (i.e. at the original word fugue) (in brackets the traditional separation, also permitted in Reformed spelling): why-rum (was -um) , where-rum (what-um) , hi-nauf (up-on) , ei-nan-der (one- another ) ;
  • Compound foreign words of Latin or Greek origin, in which there is no longer a verbal syllable border at the original word joint : Pä-da-go-gik (Päd-ago-gik) , Chi-rurg (Chir-urg) , Phi-lip-pi-nen ( Phil-ip-pi-nen) , Nost-tal-gie (Nost-al-gie) , He-li-kop-ter (He-li-ko-pter) , pa-ral-lel (par-al-lel ) , neo-ralgic (neural-algic) , monarch (mon-arch) .

The second basic rule can now also generally be applied to foreign words, primarily of Latin or Romance origin, for which it was previously the case that certain groups of letters (especially those ending in -l, -n, -r ) could not be separated:

  • as before with (I) hob-le, evil, crispy, bless, dry, acne, mixed-na , so now with nob-le (no-ble) , quad- rat (square) , furnished (furnished) , mag-net (magnet) , pyk-nisch (py-knisch) , hej-ra (he-dschra) .

The basic rule of separating according to spoken syllables does not apply to syllables that only consist of one vowel letter: but (not: a-ber ), Adria or Ad-ria (not: A-dria ), organic garbage (not: Bi -omüll ), be-if-oh-th not (: bEO-bach-th ). The basic rule now results in cases such as B. Se-en-plat-te (Seen-plat-te) , kneel (kneel) .

The second basic rule, according to which the last of several consonant letters is placed on the next line, is extended to st and (as shown above), with the admission of alternative spellings, to some compound and many foreign words, but broken in ck :

The sequence of letters st can be separated, as in traditional rules sp , pf and others. The traditional rule of not separating between s and t (except in the case of compounds such as domestic animal ) is considered to be out of date because it is based on a ligature in the broken scripts . So masters-tens , Kis-th , schöns th , six-te . "St" is not separated if it is at the beginning of a word compound: Measure .

The letter sequence ck is not dissolved in kk as in traditional spelling or separated according to the second basic rule ck , but (without giving a reason for it) placed in a row with ch and sch and treated as a non-separable unit. So to-cker , ni-CKEN , tro-CKEN , Cra-sugar (but still: Bec-que-rel, Broc-co-li, Mok-ka; Sac-cha-rin ).

The new German spelling also has no clear rules for dealing with unspoken consonant letters between vowels, especially in foreign words, and the status of y between vowels (mostly, according to Duden, 23rd edition, both separations are allowed): loy-al or lo -yal (traditionally only loy-al ), Che-wing-gum or Chew-ing-gum (but only Tel-to-wer , traditionally Tel-tower ), Ca-yenne (but Bay-er ). It is also left open which letter sequences ( digraphs ) in foreign words are to be evaluated as a unit and thus may not be separated according to the second rule: e.g. B. Pi-ran-ha , but Bud-dha .

Word alternatives

In individual cases, in the course of the reform, words that had not been used or were not used at all were (re) included in the dictionaries, which are morphologically structured differently than the conventional forms:

  • Zierrat (the form Zierat has been deleted from the dictionary)
  • independent (the form independent is still included in the dictionary)

Although not a question of spelling in the narrower sense (also different pronunciation), these words were marked in red like new spelling in the Reformed Duden.

See also


  • Rules and dictionary. Revised version of the official regulations 2004. Council for German Spelling, Munich and Mannheim, February 2006. Online (outdated; valid from August 2006 to 2011)
  • Rules and dictionary. Official regulation. Interstate Commission for German Spelling , Mannheim, November 2004. Online (out of date)
  • Klaus Heller : spelling reform. Sprachreport, special edition July 1996, Institute for the German Language, Mannheim. On-line
  • On the revision of German spelling from August 1, 2006. Sprachreport, extra edition July 2006, Institute for German Language, Mannheim ( Online , PDF, 186 kB).
  • Karl-Heinz Göttert : There is no longer a kiss . The new spelling explained, reclam, Stuttgart 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Council for German Spelling (Ed.): German Spelling: Rules and Dictionary . Updated version of the official set of rules in accordance with the recommendations of the Council for German Spelling 2016. Mannheim 2018. Available online: Part I: Rules , Part II: Dictionary , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  2. Examples from: Klaus Heller : Spelling Reform. In: Sprachreport, extra edition July 1996 . Institute for the German Language, Mannheim.
  3. On the revision of German spelling from August 1, 2006 (PDF, 186 kB). Language report, special edition July 2006, Institute for German Language, Mannheim.
  4. On the revision of German spelling from August 1, 2006 (PDF, 186 kB). Sprachreport, special edition July 2006, Institute for the German Language, Mannheim, p. 15.
  5. Press release from the Council for German Spelling: Update of the official vocabulary for foreign words , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  6. Official rules for German spelling , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  7. Rules and vocabulary from the German Spelling Council , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  8. On the revision of German spelling from August 1, 2006: July 2011 addendum , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  9. Representation of country-specific variations in the official rules on German spelling , accessed on February 25, 2018.
  10. Swiss Federal Chancellery: Spelling: Guide to German spelling , status December 4, 2017, accessed on February 25, 2018.
  11. ^ Council for German Spelling (ed.): Report on the work of the Council for German Spelling from March 2006 to October 2010 . 2010 ( PDF ).
  12. ^ Council for German Spelling (Ed.): Recommendations of the Council of December 2010 . ( PDF ).
  13. Duden: Die deutsche Rechtschreibung , 23rd edition, p. 56.
  14. Duden | Upper or lower case of “du / you” and “her / your”. Retrieved January 10, 2020 .
  15. See the addition to R 157 in "Einheitsduden": "In case of doubt, look it up in the dictionary."
  16. § 63 E of the official set of rules: "new, idiomatic overall meaning".
  17. Cf. rule K91 of the Leipziger Dudens from 1980 and R180 of the "Einheitsdudens" from 1991. The separation of the Teltow-er is considered an emergency separation and should be avoided.