Wiktionary:About German

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Accessories-text-editor.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.

This page explains considerations (beyond those covered by general policies) which apply to German entries and German translations of English entries.

Wiktionary:Entry layout explained is the principal policy on formatting entries. This document supplements that policy.

German entries[edit]

German entries begin with a “==German==” header, which is inserted into the article after any “==Translingual==” or “==English==” section, but otherwise in alphabetical order with other level 2 headers.

If an entry for another language (or “==Translingual==”) appears on the same page as the German entry, the entries are separated with four dashes (“----”) in an otherwise empty line.

Following is a simplified entry for the German word Wort (word). It shows the most fundamental elements of a German entry:


* {{IPA|/ˈvœʁtɐˌbuːx/|lang=de}}


# [[dictionary]]


The headers allowed below the 'German' header are the same as those used in English entries, except for the “Translations” section, which is only allowed in English entries. The headers also have the same order and levels as in English entries, and the format of their content is generally identical, though certain differences between the two languages have to be taken into account.


For an overview of the symbols used to transcribe German pronunciation, see Appendix:German pronunciation.


Each German noun has a gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter, or rarely more than one of these) and is declined for four cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative) and two numbers (singular and plural). The nominative singular of a noun is its "basic" (lemma) form, on whose page we include the definitions and all further linguistic information.

A full German noun entry includes a complete declension table in a separate “Declension” section, but all German noun entries should include the nominative singular, genitive singular, and nominative plural forms in the headword line. The template {{de-noun}} can be used to format the headword line and to place the entry in Category:German nouns.


German verb conjugation is more complex than English verb conjugation. As with English verbs, the infinitive is considered the "basic" (lemma) form on whose page the definitions and all further information can be found.

German verb entries should note the verb's infinitive form, third-person singular present indicative form (e.g. läuft, nieselt), first- and third-person singular past indicative form (lief, nieselte), and past participle (gelaufen, genieselt). Entries should also note which of the auxiliary verbs haben and sein is used for forming the composite tenses (perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect). Note that some verbs (e.g. passieren) can form composite tenses using either haben or sein, depending on the particular sense of the verb and whether that sense is transitive or not.

The templates {{de-verb-strong}} and {{de-verb-weak}} can be used to format the headword line and to place the entry in the appropriate category within Category:German verbs. If the verb begins with a prefix, indicate whether it is separable or inseparable. For example, umstoßen is separable (one says ich stoße dich um), whereas umgehen (to bypass) is inseparable (one says er umging das Problem).

For regular German verbs (including most strong verbs, whose stem changes can be determined by the simple past form on the headword line), a “Conjugation” section is optional. For truly irregular verbs, a “Conjugation” section should appear, including the infinitive, second-person and third-person present indicative, first-person imperfect indicative, first-person imperfect subjunctive, imperative singular and plural, and past participle. (Some verbs, such as nieseln, conjugate only in the third person, and have no attested first- or second-person forms.)


All German prefixes should start with a lowercase first letter. When prefixes are applied to nouns, they are capitalized, but this is because all nouns are capitalized, not because the prefixed is capitalized per se. For example, Autofokus uses {{prefix|auto|Fokus|lang=de}}, which links to auto- (valid) not to Auto- (invalid).

Declension of language names[edit]

Many names of languages are nominalizations of adjectives. These language names have two sets of singular forms. “Deutsch”, for example, has the nominative singular forms “Deutsch” and “Deutsche”:

  • The nominative form “Deutsche” is used only when the definite article is used: “das Deutsche”:
    • 1922, Eduard Engel, Deutsche Stilkunst, page 65:
      Das Deutsche ist formenreicher als das Englische, []
  • When the definite article is used, the genitive is always “des Deutschen”:
    • 2007, Ulrich Ammon, Klaus J. Mattheier, Sprachliche Folgen der EU-Erweiterung, page 135:
      Statt der institutionellen Stärkung des Deutschen ist eher die umgekehrte Wirkung festzustellen, nämlich dass die fortdauernde institutionelle Schwäche des Deutschen seinen Wert in den Augen der Ostmitteleuropäer mindert []
  • The nominative form “Deutsch” is used when no definite article is used, and sometimes even when the definite article is used, generally signifying a particular variety or idiolect of German, rather than the language as a whole:
    • 1965, Edith Hallwass, Wer ist im Deutschen sattelfest?: Sprachlehre in Frage und Antwort, page 13:
      Das Deutsch ist immer nur ein Teil des Deutschen: gutes oder schlechtes, falsches oder richtiges Deutsch, das Deutsch unserer Klassiker und das Deutsch, das wir heute sprechen, das Deutsch, das man lernt, schreibt, versteht []
  • The genitive forms “Deutsch” and “Deutschs” are the genitive forms of “Deutsch” (never of “das Deutsche”):
    • 2002, Neue deutsche Sprachgeschichte: mentalitäts-, kultur- und sozialgeschichtliche Zusammenhänge (Dieter Cherubim, Karlheinz Jakob, Angelika Linke), page 396:
      Die Besonderheiten sind auf die Zeit, den Raum und den gesprochenen Charakter seines Deutschs zurückzuführen.

German translations in English entries[edit]

German translations in English entries belong in a “* German: {{t|de|...}}” line under a sense-specific table header (usually as {{trans-top|[sense of the English headword]}}) within a level 4 or level 5 “====Translations====” section of the “==English==” entry. Only supply the “basic” (lemma) form of the German translation, e.g. the nominative singular for a noun, the masculine nominative singular for an adjective, and the infinitive for a verb. For nouns, also supply the gender of the German translation. Further details for the translation should not appear in the English entry, but in the corresponding German entry instead.