Punctuation Why did commas disappear between adjectives

Commas and rules in German


Commas structure a sentence and make it easier to read. However, they cannot be set arbitrarily. We will familiarize ourselves step by step with the art of setting German commas.


Commas between main clauses

If a sentence consists of two or more main clauses, these are separated from each other in German with a comma (for exceptions see info box).

Benni lay down in bed, his sister was still brushing her teeth, his mother was reading the daily newspaper.
It became quiet in the hall, the musicians took the stage, the concert began.

A main clause that is inserted into another main clause is enclosed by commas.

Yesterday at 9:00 p.m.it was hardly dark the gruesome rumble began.
Here in this photo you can see my brother, he was maybe 4 years old with his favorite doll.

But if the inserted sentence is a kind of empty phrase, we can leave out the commas.

Yesterday Anton had a bicycle accident. But he is [,] Thank God[,] nothing happens.
My grandma has difficulty walking and hearing. My parents and I take care of as good as possible[,] about them.


We do not need to use a comma if two main clauses are connected by the following words: and, or, respectively (or.), eitheror, neitherstill, Notstill, eitheras well as

The hall fell silent and the musicians took the stage and the concert began.
You better go now or I'm calling the police.
Either we just imagined it all or This house is really haunted.

However, if the structure of a sentence can only be seen through at second glance, a comma should be used. This also applies if one of the main clauses is more complex than the other.

At that time I secretly made recordings of my math teacher with my dictation machine just for fun. and my classmates had great fun too. They always imitated belching noises and giggled softly.
I leaned down [,] and the mouse that lived under the kitchen cupboard bit my nose.

Commas between main and subordinate clauses

In German, we always put a comma between the main clause and the subordinate clause, also in front of subjunctions such as because when etc.

The comma is often not easy, because there are different rules in every language.
I am in favor, that we're going to swim today.
He likes school best as soon as the summer holidays start.

If several subordinate clauses follow one another, they must also be separated from each other with commas.

I am in favor, that today we look at the comma rules so that we have more time to go swimming during the summer holidays.

If a subordinate clause is inserted in the middle of a main clause, it is placed in commas.

The advicethat he gave me were all pretty helpful.
The Housewhere the old witch lives is covered with ivy tendrils and surrounded by a thick wall.
I goif the weather permits, like to the lake.


There is always a comma before and after inserted subordinate clauses, even if the sentence includes and, or, or. goes on.

Sometimes he said goodbye very early when he was tired, or didn't show up in the first place.
Klaus Kinski was quick-tempered, to put it kindly, and often enough unpredictable.

Commas in lists

In the German language, parts of a list are separated from each other with commas.

My dog ​​always wants carry your own leash, jump, play, hunt mice. And preferably all at the same time.
The freshly painted walls in my room are now shining in the most beautiful colors: Purple, hot pink, rose, magenta. It just looks great!

In front and/or there is usually no comma in lists (except after an insertion, see 3rd example sentence).

I find your behavior childish, stupid and unjust.
Today I want to go to the market and roses, tulips or Buy daffodils.
Today I want roses, tulips, but only red ones, or Buy daffodils.

Comma between adjectives

If several adjectives of equal rank are listed, we use a comma.

You can safely throw this old, battered hat away.
But that's a dear, nice boy.


If and between the two adjectives, it is a list of adjectives of equal rank and we use a comma.

Sometimes, however, a noun forms a unit with an adjective, which is then defined more precisely by another adjective. In this case we don't put a comma between the adjectives.

That's a good one french red wine.
A famous one once lived here German philosopher.
May 1st is a popular one National holiday.
A small one led to Uncle Otto's house paved path.
Today I have beautiful on the market green asparagus Bought.

Comma placement when inserting additional information

Additions are cuts in the flow of the sentence. They are usually separated with commas. It is characteristic of additions that they are adjusted. If they are at the beginning of a sentence, it is no longer an addition and no comma is used.

Ulli, my cat, is hungry around the clock.
but: My cat Ulli is hungry around the clock.
She was pretty big in business, among other things as a solo entertainer.
but: As a solo entertainer, among other things, she was pretty big in business.

The following little words introduce a trailing addition particularly often: but, Indeed, so, especially, that is, that is, more precisely, especially, in any case, however, namely, and that, namely, above all, even if will / should mean, e.g. B., at least.

Horst the cat is tired all day long, especially early in the morning.
Only one thing can lure him off the sofa namely Eat.
He loves his cat food more than anything, especially the treats.
Sometimes he goes out in the garden but only briefly.

To that is, that is will / should mean we only write a comma if it is followed by a sub-clause (contains a conjugated verb).

Early in the morning, that is, after the cat Horst has got up, he undergoes a cat wash.

To this means must be a comma because after the cat Horst got up is a subset.

Early in the morning, that is, after getting up, the cat Horst undergoes a cat wash.

To this means there is no comma because after getting up is not a sub-clause (does not contain a conjugated verb).

Commas for appositions

Appositions are noun additions and are enclosed in commas.

Mr. Semmler, my math teacher, is an excellent ornithologist.
Elli, Hanna's sister, had a girl yesterday.

Comma for participle groups

A participle group is called a participle with a more specific definition.

laughing out loud
hopping clumsily
singing happily

If there is a suggestive word before or after the participle group, we have to put a comma in German. (A leading word as in the 2nd example sentence is rather rare.)

Hopping awkwardly on one leg so poor Christian came in through the door. He had broken his leg.
SoHoping awkwardly on one leg, poor Christian came in through the door.

A participle group as an addition or explanation after a noun or pronoun must also be separated by a comma (s).

Andreas opened the gate to the garden. His dog, jumping happily, came running up to him immediately.

After a conjugated verb, the comma before and after the participle is not required. But we can use it to structure the sentence more clearly.

That is [,] to be honest, [] exactly the opposite of what I was asking for.
Bello lay on the grass, snorting contentedly, and let the sun shine on his fur.


In addition to commas, we can also separate additional information from the accompanying sentence with brackets or dashes. The brackets are more casual, commas are neutral, and dashes emphasize the most.

Sandra (Paul's friend) baked cakes for us yesterday. (casual mention)
Sandra, Paul's friend, baked cakes for us yesterday. (neutral)
Sandra - Paul's friend - baked cakes for us yesterday. (strong separation / emphasis)

Commas in direct speech

We use a comma to separate the direct speech from a subsequent accompanying sentence. In German, this comma is always outside of the quotation marks.

"I better go now," she said and left the apartment.
"Are you back already?" Asked Jens in astonishment.
“But that's enough, children. Stop it! ”The mother rebuked.

If a sentence in direct speech is interrupted by an accompanying sentence, there is a comma before and after the accompanying sentence.

"You there," cried Mr. Bastian indignantly, "now stop."

However, if the accompanying sentence is in direct speech between two complete sentences, we only use the comma in front of the accompanying sentence. If there is an introductory word in the accompanying sentence to continue the direct speech (Add) let's put a colon.

"Now he's getting cheeky too," said Mr Bastian indignantly and added: "That will cost you dearly!"

Commas for indirect questions

Indirect questions are questions built into another sentence.

If the indirect question is a whole sentence, we put a comma after the opening sentence.

I would be very interested why he didn't show up today.
I don't want to tell you why he skipped.

However, if the indirect question only consists of a question word, the comma can be omitted.

I would be very interested [,] Why.
I don't want to tell you [,] how so.

Commas in the extended infinitive with zu

The extended infinitive with to always consists of at least to + Verb in the infinitive.

I cannot allow myself [,] tocontradict.
Cornelius has firmly promised [,] helping me with art homework.

There are cases in which a comma has to be put in front of the extended infinitive in German, and others in which it can be put.

Comma required

  • The extended infinitive is introduced with the following words: as, instead of, except, without, instead of,around
Mr. Müller hadn't planned otherwise today, except to go for a walk.
Unfortunately, his dog Klaus was sick and so he had to look after him, instead of to go to the forest.
Klaus was so weak that he couldn't do anything else, as to lie.
So Mr. Miller only went to his garden for a short time, without To let Klaus out of sight, however.
Klaus, on the other hand, was afraid that Mr. Miller would leave, and so he stormed after him, instead of to rest.
It took Mr. Miller a while to around to calm his sick and anxious dog.
  • The extended infinitive depends on the noun in the main clause.
Hopefully Cornelius will keep his promise to help me with my homework.
His attempt to divide the brawlers failed.
  • In the main clause there is an indicative word (e.g.about it, aboutthereon). These little words announce that the Infinitive with zu there will be a reference back: one will experience what about what or on what.
Can you me tomorrow on it remember to call Anne-Marie?
It just works thereforeto create a balance.
Lisa, Laura and Karlchen have been waiting all day thereonto go to the swimming pool.
  • A comma must also be used if the reference is made in another way.
To sail alone the she didn't dare.

to sail is through again the recorded

Little Michael can it hate sitting around in the classroom on hot summer days.

it will be recorded again; we learn what Michael can't stand

Comma possible

In all other cases the comma is optional. For a better structure of a sentence and to avoid misunderstandings, however, it is advisable to use a comma here as well.

We tried reformatting the computer.
The defendant refused to cooperate.


If we put commas and the extended infinitive is in the middle of the sentence, we of course have to put a comma before and after it.

His kind[,] to express oneself [,] made her white-hot.
Your planto settle in the Maldives, fell into the water.
She couldn't waitto taste the lemonade that her grandma made.

Commas for highlighting and exclamation

Comma for emphasis

If a part of a sentence is taken up again by a hinting word, we put a comma in front of the hinting word in German.

This Ms. Prof. Dr. Schulte, the I wouldn't always believe everything
A job with a lot of free time and a high salary, just like that Julius imagines his future.
In this building there my kindergarten used to be there.


The word You're welcome may or may not be separated from the rest of the sentence with a comma, depending on the context. If it is at the beginning or the end of a sentence, it is usually separated.

Please make yourself comfortable!
Can I stay with Anna today, please?

Is it a clichéd use of You're welcome, we don't use a comma.

Please come in.
Will you give me the teapot please?
Can you please stop!

Before and after must be in the middle of the sentence You're welcome there is no comma, but you can use commas to achieve special emphasis.

Could you please let me know by Wednesday at the latest?

Comma for exclamations

Exclamations are usually separated from the rest of the sentence.

Oh, that's strange.

However, if you do not want to emphasize, the comma can be omitted.

Oh that's strange.

If the exclamation is followed by a name, we put the comma after the name. In this case, exclamation and name are regarded as salutations.

Oh mom, grades aren't everything.

Comma rules for salutation, greetings and politeness formulas

Comma in salutation

In the German language, we separate direct salutations by name or title from the rest of the sentence with commas.

Mom come on I want to show you something.
Jonas, you can't wash your hair with my body lotion!
Thank you very much, Doctor. I really feel a lot better already.

A comma is also placed after the salutation in letters.

Dear Mr. Ricken,
Dear Ruth,

Comma in greetings

A letter or an e-mail can also be included Hello or Good day start. Since the name and title are always separated by a comma, a comma must usually be placed between the greeting and the name. However, if the entire salutation consists of only two words, the comma can be omitted - it is even recommended.

Good afternoon, Dr. Kowalski,
Hi Mom,

A common source of error is the greeting at the end of a letter or email. Here we put in German no Comma. Only one paragraph follows.

With best regards
Peter S. Burkhard
best regards

Comma for politeness formulas

Politeness formulas are expressions of apology, plea, thank you, etc. If they are at the beginning or the end of the sentence, we usually separate them from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

Excuse me, could you please let me through?
Can you let me through, please?
I don't want chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, thank you.

However, the courtesy formula is through a For combined with the rest of the sentence, we do not use a comma.

Thank you for these beautiful flowers!
Sorry for the inconvenience I caused you.

Comma rules when specifying name and address

Comma in the name

In official documents, the last name is often written before the first name.In such cases, we put a comma between the surname and first name in German.

Müller, Florian

Correct commas for the address

If the specification of an address consists of several parts, we use a comma if the sentence is constructed as follows:

Lisa lives in Cologne, Zülpicher Strasse 9, 5th floor.

If the sentence is continued after the address, you can put a comma, but it is not mandatory (see commas for times and references.)

Lisa from Cologne, Zülpicher Strasse 9, 5th floor [,] will soon move to Bonn.

We do not use a comma in the following sentence construction.

Lisa lives in Cologne at Zülpicher Straße 9 on the fifth floor.


Whenever the individual parts of the address are separated by a paragraph, we do not use a comma. This is the case, for example, with postal addresses.

Otto Ottmann
Ottostraße 27
76227 Karlsruhe

German commas for numbers and times

Comma for German decimal numbers

With decimal numbers, the comma is used to separate the whole number from the fraction.

1.5 hours
0.25 liters of milk
In Germany women have an average of 1.38 children.

Commas for German times

If time and date information consists of several parts, we put a comma between them, because they can be seen as a list or a supplement. A comma can be placed after the last part of the date and time in German if the sentence has not yet ended, but it is not mandatory (see commas for addresses and references).

We will give our presentation on June 27th, 9:00 a.m.
She was late for work on Friday, December 13th, because her alarm didn't go off and her bike was broken.

If the parts of a date and time are connected with prepositions, we usually do not use a comma. A comma is only required for insertions, even if it is followed by a preposition (see 2nd example).

Hans is coming at the 3rd of June around 7:30 p.m. at Leipzig Central Station.
On Wednesday, October 13th, at 5:00 pm [,] I'm going on vacation.

When specifying dates in a letterhead or under a contract, we put the comma after the location.

Leipzig, May 7, 2014

Comma rules for references in German

In the case of multi-part literature references, we put commas between the respective parts.

I refer you to page 10, German grammar - simple, compact and clear, published by Engelsdorfer Verlag, Leipzig.

A comma is not used if the parts of a bibliography are connected with a preposition.

I have this in of German grammar on Looked up on page 10.

If the sentence goes further after the bibliography, a comma can be placed after the last part, but it is not mandatory (see commas for addresses and times).

I got that on page 10 yesterday German grammar - simple, compact and clear, published by Engelsdorfer Verlag, Leipzig [,] looked up.


We do not use a comma when the bibliography refers to a legal text.

Paragraph 3, sentence 1, number 1 of the Federal Training Assistance Act has been restricted.