At my work we are working on some software involving the capitalization of book titles. Under pronouns it is set to not capitalize, yet "Sie" is always capitalized. I thought pronouns were not capitalized except in the case of the formal "Sie". Are all pronouns capitalized, it's only the formal "Sie", or are none capitalized?

  • In my bookshelf, some titles are Capitalized, some are CAPITALIZED completly, some are lowercased, including author-name, and some are written normally like a sentence - just without the trailing dot. – user unknown Aug 15 '11 at 19:32
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    @user unknown It is understandable that some people will ignore convention for style, but in this case I was asking what the proper conventions are. – user89 Aug 15 '11 at 19:39
  • Yes, I wanted to say, that there is no such convention, or at least 3 conventions - all lowercase is pretty rarely seen. – user unknown Aug 15 '11 at 22:30

Pronouns are not capitalized in German. The only exception from this rule is the formal "Sie" as you suspected.

According to the "Old German Orthography" you also had to capitalize "du" when referring to the second person singular in letters. The new rule is that you can capitalize it or not – but only in letters or other correspondence like emails.

Also, if you're using pronouns as nouns you'll have to capizalize them (see Amtliche Rechtschreibung (2006) § 57.3. Examples:

Er hat mir das Du angeboten?
das innere Ich
Andrea ist in Italien gewöhnlich ein Er, keine Sie.
den Unterschied zwischen Mein und Dein kennen

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  • So in a title, "sie" being "she" would not be capitalized? – user89 Aug 15 '11 at 15:12
  • @Glenn right, not capitalized. ("Ich kannte sie nicht.") – splattne Aug 15 '11 at 15:22
  • Formal "Ihr" is capitalized as well, no? – musiKk Aug 16 '11 at 6:43
  • @musiKk well, "Ihr" is the possessive form of "Sie": "Sie sind wieder gesund. Ihre Blutwerte sind gut." - "Ihr" as 2nd person personal pronoun is an old form. – splattne Aug 16 '11 at 7:21
  • @splattne: Oh, you're right. – musiKk Aug 16 '11 at 7:29

While the first answer is right, this was a fairly recent change in the spelling reform. A lot of Germans still capitalize "Du" or "Euch" in letters or fliers for example. A lot of people have issues letting go of capitalizing these words as it was considered polite to do so.

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