Upper and lower case in German

Capitalization is quite different in German than in English, and much more common. Correct and consistent use of capitalization allows quick determination of grammatical categories and identification of most obvious words when reading.

Nouns

  • All nouns are capitalized in German, without exception.
    • der Vater (father); die Blume (flower); das Brot (bread); die Schweiz (Switzerland)
  • Any other grammatical elements (verbs, pronouns, etc.) converted into or functioning as nouns are also capitalized.
    • der Vorgesetzte (superior); das Schreiben (writing); das A (the letter A); die Acht (eight)
  • After a quantitative word such as etwas, nichts, viel, alles, etc. the adjective is nominalized and also requires a capital letter.
    • viel Schönes (many beautiful things); etwas Frisches (something fresh); nichts Besseres (nothing better)

Adjectives

  • Invariable adjectives (with -er) regarding places are capitalized.
    • die Hamburger Straße (Hamburg Street); die Weimarer Republik (Weimar Republic); das Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)
  • Adjectives included in a title or a phrase considered its own name are also capitalized.
    • Karl der Gute (Charles the Good); das Rote Meer (the Red Sea); der Hundertjähriger Krieg (the Hundred Years War)

Pronouns

  • All pronouns and possessive adjectives that pertain to the polite form are capitalized.
    • Sie sind da. (You are here.); Ihr Geld (your money); Gefällt es Ihnen? (Do you like it?)
  • Warning! Since the spelling reform, pronouns and possessive adjectives of familiarity will no longer necessarily be capitalized.
    • Geht's dir gut? (Are you okay?) ; Dein Kaffee ist hier (Your coffee is here.)