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German Grammar Checklist

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Use this checklist to proofread and edit your writing. This checklist disregards the basic writing/grammar points that you would find in a general writing checklist such as beginning a sentence with a capital letter, indenting a paragraph etc. This checklist is specifically geared for those writing/grammar concepts that are essential to correct German writing.

1. Have you capitalized all nouns?

Remember all nouns and any nominalized adjectives (im Voraus), verbs (das Laufen) etc. are all capitalized. See Noun Capitalization.

2. Have you used correct grammatical cases?

Depending on the meaning of the sentence, all articles, nouns, pronouns, adjectives can be in either the nominative, genitive, dative or accusative case. See Grammatical Cases.

3. Have you placed your verbs in second position in your declarative sentences?

This means that the verb is always the second grammatical element in a declarative sentence. Remember, this does not necessarily mean that the verb is the second word. For instance: Der kleine Junge will nach Hause gehen (The little boy wants to go home). Will is the fourth word. Also, the verb is still the second element even if the first element of the declarative sentence is not the subject. See Verb Word Order Part 1.

4. Did you put the second part of the verbal phrase last?

The second part of a verbal phrase is either the past participle, prefix or infinitive, such as Sie trocknet ihre Haare ab (She is drying her hair). Keep in mind as well that verbs are last in subordinate and relative clauses. See Verb Word Order Part 2. 

5. Are there any prepositions that can be contracted?

For example an dem => am.

6. Have you inserted commas before your dependent clauses? In numbers and prices?

Remember that the German language applies stricter rules in the use of commas. See Punctuation.

7. Have you used German quotation marks?

Mostly two types are used. Commonly used are lower and upper quotation marks =>  „  “    In modern books you will also see chevron-style quotation marks =>  »   «

8. Have you used formal forms of Sie as necessary?

That would include also Ihnen and Ihr. See Pronouns.

9. Don’t forget the proper word order in German sentences: time, manner, place.

For example: Sie ist heute schnell nach Hause gefahren. (time – heute, manner – schnell, place – nach  Hause). See Time, Manner, Place section of Word Order Part 1.

10. Check for “false friends” or false cognates.

These are words - either written exactly or similarly- that exist in both languages, but they have different meanings. For example bald/soon, Rat/counsel. See German False Friends Glossary.

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