A short introduction to the usage of the comma in German

Have you ever asked yourself the following question?
“When do I need to use a comma in German?”
You might not because you think it’s the same as in English. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. The comma in German is often used the same as in English … but not always.

The following video is the first of 6 comma videos from my online course The complete guide to German punctuation.

A little question: How many commas does the following sentence need? Three or four?
Für das Rezept brauche ich Mehl Zucker Butter Eier und Schokolade.
Answer at the bottom of the post.

So, in the video I told you about lists and commas. Here is another reason for using a comma in German:

If two clauses are connected with als, bevor, damit, dass, nachdem, ob, obwohl, weil or wenn a comma comes before the conjunction.

Also, short exclamations to express a request, confirmation, approval, negation or astonishment are separated from the actual sentence by a comma.

When you add information to a phrase in your sentence, us the comma for better understanding.

And you need a comma for subordinate clauses with ‘zu + infinitive’

So, now you know a little bit about the usage of a comma in German.

To find out more about the comma and also about the full stop, question & exclamation marks, hyphens & dash, ellipsis dots, colons & semicolons, round & square brackets, quotation marks, capital letters and, of course, when and when not to use the apostrophe, check out my course:

The complete guide to German punctuation.
Everything – and possibly more – you ever wanted to know and learn about using punctuation in German!

Answer to the little question: you need 3 commas.
Für das Rezept brauche ich Mehl, Zucker, Butter, Eier und Schokolade.

2 thoughts on “A short introduction to the usage of the comma in German”

  1. I was happy when this post came along, but it didn’t include what I was expecting, namely an explanation of how you use it differently than in English. They keep popping up in wierd places such as separating subject and predicate, which is uncommon in English and outright wrong in many languages.


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