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There are two expression which a very similar in German

Schuld haben

and

schuld sein

Is there a difference in meaning, maybe a subtle one?

Why is the first "Schuld" capitalized and the second one not?

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Just for fun: There's a running joke in our family: "Der Mann hat immer Recht!". Because that's not fair to the woman, we decided that the woman should also have something, just for her, so we came up with "Die Frau hat immer Schuld!" -- May take some time to get used to, but the upside is: Kein Streit!! :-)) –  teylyn Aug 15 '11 at 11:51
    
Makes me think of the management phrase, We didn't say it was your fault. We said we're going to blame you. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 16 '11 at 10:00
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

IMO there's almost no difference. "Schuld sein" may be a little more colloquial than "Schuld haben" or "Schuld tragen". Capitalization is an interesting point - according to canoo.net, in this case "Schuld" is a "verblasstes Nomen" (i fear there's no nice-fitting english translation?), a substantive used as it were an adjective. Since they aren't substantives any more, lower case is mandatory.

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Duden lists both examples alongside so I don't think there is much of a difference.

There is also a link to the reason why schuld sein is written with lower case (Rule 70): It's a definite adjective and those are written with lower case.

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