What sentence could ruin a date right away

Decimal point rules simply explained

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Lists, salutations, dates, places and times as well as main and subordinate clauses have clear comma rules that most Germans know - right? We at Mein RothStift freshen up your school knowledge and use examples to show you that placing commas is not that difficult.

There are point rules that are often forgotten. Participle and infinitive groups are prime examples of this. You can call it the loser of the German spelling reform, since since then many commas have become optional. However, correct punctuation is extremely important, which we would like to show you with the help of a popular example:

"Come on, let's eat grandpa!"
"Come on, let's eat, grandpa!"

If commas are forgotten, as in the first sentence, Grandpa could get nervous very quickly ...

Practice creates masters!

Of course, learning the rules of the German language is not a lot of fun. But if you stick with it and practice again and again, the correct use of punctuation becomes more and more natural. Look for supporters: With nice fountain pens, for example from Online, it is easier to practice. They lie comfortably in the hand, have a great, soft flow of ink and the many beautiful and funny motifs immediately improve the mood in the language jungle. Write as much as possible every day: whether it's a diary, greeting cards or love letters - everything is suitable for practicing punctuation.

Rule 1: enumerations

In enumerations, words of the same rank are separated from one another using commas. This is the easiest comma exercise.

The sheep are called Becky, Lotta, Emma and Marta.

For the setting of commas, it is important here whether the adjectives are on the same level or whether there is a fixed link between noun and adjective, which is described in more detail by an attribute (according to Duden, this occurs particularly often with adjectives, the colors, materials , Origin or affiliation). In the first case, the commas are mandatory, in the second, none may be used. The connective word "and" can be used to find out what we are dealing with.

The curious, alert sheep (The curious one and bright sheep) → The "and" fits in without any problems, so it is a list that has to be separated by a comma.

The white East Frisian sheep (The White and East Frisian sheep) → The "and" does not fit here, no comma may be used.

Rule 2: dates, places and quotations

This rule of commas helps to make reading easier. However, the second comma is optional.

The sheep arrived on Friday, June 1st (,) on the pasture.
The shepherd from Dortmund, Kohlensiepenstrasse 2 (,) is with them every day.

Rule 3: main clauses

If they are in a series of sentences, main clauses are separated by commas. Incidentally, this also applies to clauses of the same type, as long as they are not connected by "and" / "or":

The sheep went into the stable, they looked around, they began to eat.
Because they were hungry, because they were tired, because they were cold, the sheep went into the stable.

Even if a main clause is inserted into another, commas are set:
The sheep went into the stable at 5 p.m., I saw it clearly.

The comma becomes optional when two main clauses are joined by "and" / "or":

The sheep came into the stable (,) and they began to eat.

Rule 4: Separation of the constituent clause from the superordinate main clause

Why, when, how? Commas must be used to separate certain clauses from their parent clause.

Causal clause: (reason): Because it is raining, the sheep go into the stable.
Temporal sentence (point in time, duration): The sheep go into the stable as long as it rains.
Concessive clause (opposite reason, restriction): The sheep stay outside even though it is raining.
Final movement (intention, purpose, goal): The sheep go into the stable so as not to get wet.
Conditional sentence (condition): When it rains, the sheep go into the stable.
Modal sentences (manner): The sheep stay dry by going to the barn.
Consecutive clauses (consequence of the previous action): It was raining so hard that the sheep went into the stable.

Commas are also set in the

Indirect questionnaire: I would like to know if the sheep go into the stable when it rains.
Relative clause: The sheep that do not want to get wet go to the stable.

Rule 5: Conjunctions (connecting words)

One should always pay attention to conjunctions in the German language, because there are no uniform rules here. However, there is always a comma in front of opposing conjunctions, for example:


  • But (He liked sheep but not goats.)
  • Alone (He didn't like goats, he only liked sheep.)
  • However (He liked goats, but preferred sheep.)
  • Much more (He not only liked the sheep, he loved them.)
  • But (He didn't like goats, but he loved sheep.)
  • Rather (He liked not only goats, but also sheep.)


There is also a comma between parts of sentences which conjunctions turn into a kind of enumeration, for example:


  • the ... the (The more time he spends with the sheep, the better he gets to know them.)
  • partly ... partly (Sometimes the sheep graze, sometimes they sleep in the shade.)
  • on the one hand on the other hand (On the one hand, the sheep don't like to get wet in the rain, on the other hand, they are happy to cool down.)
  • not only but Also (Not only do I enjoy spending time with them, but so do my girlfriend.)
  • whether ... whether (Whether young or old - all sheep are equally important to me.)

If explanations are introduced by the following words, a comma is required:

  • this means (All the sheep followed him, that is, except for Becky.)
  • namely (All the sheep but one, Becky, followed him.)
  • for example (Almost all the sheep, for example Lotta, Emma and Marta, followed him.)
  • in fact (One sheep, Becky, did not follow him.)
  • how (The trusting sheep like Lotta, Emma and Marta followed him.

Rule 6: Extended Infinitives

We use a comma when an infinitive group is introduced by the following words:

  • around (He built the barn to protect the sheep from wind and weather.)
  • except (He had no other duties than building the stable.)
  • Instead of (He dozed off in the afternoon instead of / instead of going to work.)
  • without (For this he worked the next day without taking a break.)
  • as (He would rather do a thorough job than have to keep making repairs later.)

A comma is also necessary when an infinitive group depends on a noun ...

At the attempt, The sheep capturehe fell on the grass.

... or announced by a hinting word:

Think on it, the sheep in the morning to feed.

Rule 7: Participles

Participles are derived from verbs and partly retain their properties, partly they take over properties of an adjective. The comma is optional when it separates an extended participle from the sentence:

Shivering from the cold (,) the sheep went into the stable.

If the extended participle is inserted or followed by the sentence, commas become mandatory:

The sheep, shivering from the cold, went into the stable.
The sheep went into the stable, chilled by the rain.

Commas are also used to separate two unflexed participles from the sentence if they are joined by an "and":

The sheep, trembling and bleating, went into the stable.

Rule 8: Dialogues and Comments

The whole sentence has a stronger effect through the placement of the comma and the separation of the exclamation, the approval or negation or the request.

Yes, I am a shepherd!
No, my sheep are not shy.
Please can you help me feed?
Wow, this sheep is very hungry.

Rule 9: Salutation

Salutations are always separated by commas in the sentence. It doesn't matter where the salutation is in the sentence.

Dear Sir or Madam, Enclosed you will find my application documents for the shepherd apprenticeship.
The sheep, dear Mr. Müller, is very healthy and fit.

Rule 10: Apposition

An apposition is a noun attribute that describes the relational word in more detail. If the apposition is within the sentence, it is surrounded by commas:

Becky, the oldest sheep, was the most affectionate.

Rule 11: pronouns and adverbs

If parts of a sentence are taken up again by a pronoun or adverb, commas become mandatory:

His very first sheep, that was what he had always loved best.
In the sheepfold, it's always warm and dry.

Rule 12: adjectives

If they are connected by "and", commas separate two following adjectives from the sentence:

All the sheep, young and old, came running every morning.

Create your own pen!

... That was a lot of input, wasn't it? Internalize the rules by writing as much as possible, also by hand! How about, for example, a pen of your own design? Online makes it possible with the design competition: As every year, in 2018 you have the opportunity to submit your ideas for the most creative, beautiful and funniest designs to the writing instrument manufacturer. A jury decides on the ideas and the winners can look forward to great prizes. You can take part until October 31st. You can find participant cards in stores - also in our shop in Leipzig. We at Mein RothStift wish you every success.