3

I know a German guy who is pretty pedantic when it comes to the German language (he is a native speaker) but there is one thing that confuses me about him. He tends to use the following greetings:

Mit besten Grüßen,

Max Mustermann.

And there he always puts a full stop. Is putting a full stop there legitimate? All websources I contacted so far tend to argue that there should be no full stop, but I don’t know if this rule is obligatory?

  • Well … I always do. I can be a grammar nazi. But the comma after Grüße is definitely wrong, I can tell you that. – Jan May 29 '15 at 19:34
  • according to him, you either have to put both (the comma and the point) or nothing there. – Godofgramma May 29 '15 at 19:38
8

The full stop

§ 68 of the spelling rules:

Nach freistehenden Zeilen setzt man keinen Punkt.

Dies betrifft unter anderem

[…]

(3) Anschriften und Datumszeilen sowie Grußformeln und Unterschriften etwa in Briefen:

[…]
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Ihr Werner Meier

So the full stop is as wrong as it can possibly be. Even without this rule, I see no reason to use a full stop here, as there is no sentence to be ended: The valediction formula does not contain a verb.

The comma

The spelling rules do not use the comma in their examples (see above), so not using it has to be considered correct. You can however find arguments that would allow (but not enforce) such a comma:

  • As in all such rules, what isn’t allowed by some rule, is forbidden. But you can interprete the following rule to allow such a comma:

    § 77 Zusätze oder Nachträge grenzt man mit Komma ab; sind sie eingeschoben, so schließt man sie mit paarigem Komma ein.

    Here, you can either interprete mit freundlichen Grüßen or Max Mustermann as such a supplement. There is no clear way of telling which of both would apply, as we are not dealing with a sentence (see above). Note that it is mainly left to the discretion of the writer what is supplement and what isn’t (§ 78) and thus this comma could be regarded as optional and thus interpreting this rule this way does not contradict the examples in the spelling rules.

  • A comma after a free line is allowed under certain conditions, which however do not clearly apply here. § 69 E3:

    E3: Nach der Anrede etwa in Briefen kann man ein Ausrufezeichen oder entsprechend § 79 (1) ein Komma setzen:

    […]

    Sehr geehrter Herr Schröder,
    entsprechend unserer telefonischen Vereinbarung ...

    Where § 79 is:

    Anreden, Ausrufe oder Ausdrücke einer Stellungnahme, die besonders hervorgehoben werden sollen, grenzt man mit Komma ab; sind sie eingeschoben, so schließt man sie mit paarigem Komma ein.

  • In spoken language, you would make a considerable pause where the comma is.

4

According to Duden – Richtiges und gutes Deutsch, there is no comma after the valediction and no full stop after the signature.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Ihre Emma Meier

  • the question is: why? – Godofgramma May 29 '15 at 20:11
  • @Godofgramma “Why?” was not your question. If necessary, you may want to consider editing your question to clarify this issue. – Loong May 29 '15 at 20:21
  • @Godofgramma: Also, what sort of answer do you expect to why? Do you want to know why the authors of the spelling rules decided to make the rules as they are or how this punctuation established (if the spelling rules are representing common usage here). – Wrzlprmft May 29 '15 at 20:33

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