When I correct German notebook entries I often spot easy to avoid mistakes. If there are too many mistakes in one text, it appears sloppy and it might be more difficult to find someone volunteering to correct the text. That’s why I would like to give you some hints, how you can self-correct a text before you upload it as notebook entry.<o:p></o:p>
If you are not sure, how to spell a word, please look it up or use a spell-checking program. You can check the spelling online here:<o:p></o:p>
General thumb of rules.
- - Words at the beginning of sentences, names and nouns are always capitalized. (e.g. „Heute gehe ich mit meinem Freund ins Kino.“)<o:p></o:p>
- - The word „ich“ is not written with a capital letter (unless it is used in the beginning of a sentence).<o:p></o:p>
- - If you can’t type ä, ö, ü and ß on your computer then replace those letter with ae, oe, ue and ss. (e.g. „Ich heiße Björn Müller“ -> „Ich heisse Bjoern Mueller“)<o:p></o:p>
As a beginner you don’t need to dive deep into the German punctuation rules, but the following are some rules, that you should definitely consider.<o:p></o:p>
- - Punctuation marks like full stop/period, question mark, exclamation mark, comma and semicolon are always followed by a blank space. (eg. „Hallo! Ich heiße Björn Müller und lerne seit vielen Jahren Englisch, Spanisch und Französisch. Und du? Wie heißt du?“)
- Commata are often used to divide main clause and subordinate clause. There are some words, that always require a comma, e.g.:
dass: Ich freue mich, dass du heute
weil: Ich konnte nicht kommen, weil ich keine Zeit hatte.<o:p></o:p>
- - The punctuation in numbers is opposite to the usage in English:
1000000-> English: 1,000,000 vs. German: 1.000.000
one Euro twenty -> English: 1.20 € vs. German: 1,20 € (eins Komma zwanzig Euro)
You can find some more rules here:
Please feel free to post other easy rules for avoiding basic mistakes. If there is a demand, I can also post some rules for self-correcting grammar in German texts.
@Melanie, I personally always write without spell checkers first. But before I upload my text to italki, I let GoogleDocs check it for obvious typos. (Alternatives are Word/OpenOffice/LibreOffice, any writing programs really.)
This is just to spare natives the work of correcting these simple mistakes. It also makes me re-read everything I write. It certainly feels like I learn from repetitive little mistakes and it's always a nice sense of achievement to improve the quality of my writing myself, even if it's just by a little bit. :)
@Pia P. and Miriam That makes sense, thanks for the suggestion! To be honest, sometimes it feels like I keep making the same mistakes anyway, no matter what I do. But I'll keep trying :)
Good advice! Thanks, Miriam, for taking the time to write this article!
I'm a bit torn about using spell checkers: one the one hand, I agree that spelling errors are easily avoided, and if you type your text first in Word with the appropriate language's spell checker installed, the program will fix a lot of errors for you. However, to me it feels a bit like cheating. For example, I'm preparing for an exam in Italian, and I won't be able to double check my spelling using a thesaurus during the exam.
I don't know. You've made me think about whether there's really a difference between having a person point out your errors or a program. Perhaps I should see both, software and human corrector, as a part of learning and getting my writing checked.
Thanks for all the comments. :-)
Yes, I agree with Pia. It's best to write without spell checker first, but before uploading the big spelling mistakes can be corrected via spell checker and thus the chances of getting corrected by native speakers are higher. I do quite a lot of corrections and get a bit annoyed by sloppy spelling. I prefer to correct mistakes that can't easily be fixed by a quick look into a dictionary. The spell checkers also mark if it is a spelling or a grammar mistake and if the writer is smart, (s)he doesn't not only correct the mistakes but also tries to learn something from this correction and not to do the same mistake all over again.