German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Would one sound like a native German speaker saying "nen" instead of "einen" or is there another special point behind it? Does it have colloquial usage only?

share|improve this question
If you really want to sound like a native, you shouldn't restrict your usage of nen to einen but also einer and eine. In my experience especially in chats but sometimes in sloppy speech it is used like that. Personally I despise this usage and it absolutely drives me nuts. – musiKk Jan 9 '12 at 8:36
If you want to replace "einen" with an emphasis on the number one (Example: "Ich kenne nur einen Menschen der Linkshänder ist.") then "nen" doesn't work. – 0x6d64 Jan 9 '12 at 9:47
Be sure to use an apostrophe when writing "nen" instead of "einen", since you're omitting letters there. – Jan Jan 9 '12 at 10:36
@musiKk I don't think anybody does that in spoken language. I've never heard "Haste mal nen Mark?". – fzwo Jan 9 '12 at 11:10
Dear Gigli, my advice: if you are not a native speaker never use slang or "cute" expressions or abbreviations. Nothing is more ridiculous than foreigners with dreadful syntax, grotesque pronunciation and ultra-limited lexicon trying to sound cool (I'm not implying you do, of course: you is the generic pronoun here!). If you want to impress people, use standard grammar, pronounce words correctly and enrich your active vocabulary. – Georges Elencwajg Jan 9 '12 at 14:03

Yes to both questions. It's only used in colloquial speech by native speakers or when chatting online with friends.

share|improve this answer
SMS (12 more to go - never use it in comments :), they need to have at least 16 chars). – user unknown Jan 9 '12 at 14:49

The use of "nen" instead of "einen" is colloquial speech. It doesn't deliver any additional meaning, much like the abbreviation of "does not" to "doesn't". You should never use it in formal German, but especially in spoken language it is often used.

Attention: As pointed out in the comments to your question, "einen" is shortened to "'nen", but "eine" is shortened to "'ne" and "ein" to "'n" - you simply replace the "ei-" by an apostrophe.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.