I read here

"du": The imperative form of the informal second-person singular does not normally include the pronoun "du". In the case of weak verbs, the form is the stem. Usually you have the option of adding an "-e"

And then here

  1. The "du" form of the imperative is formed by dropping the final "-en" of the infinitive and adding "-e" to the end of the word. This "-e" ending is usually dropped in spoken German and quite often in written German as well.

Are then both forms, with and without -e valid and correct? Is there any difference between them besides the form with -e being more formal?


Yes, both forms of the second person imperative are equally correct and valid.

However, the form including -e often comes across as antiquated. It used to be much more popular in written German about a century ago. I don’t know about the 1901 spelling rules, but the 1996 ones definitely say that the -e must not be replaced by an apostrophe as the form without it is common enough. So when in doubt, leave out the final -e in imperatives in modern usage.

  • equally correct implies equal, but they are obviously not equal. Hence, both would just be correct, bur that depends, as you pointed out, and beyond that, on context. – vectory Feb 23 '19 at 23:09
  • @vectory ‘equally correct’ implies that both carry the same correctness. Which they do: neither is considered in any way wrong and would be marked as such e.g. in an exam. Everything else was your interpretation. – Jan Feb 24 '19 at 3:27
  • Absolutely, context is all about interpretation. I'm not aiming for mere "Richtigkeit" (wait, that's a word?), but "Genauigkeit". A "Gleichrichter" in electronics is an Inverter by the way, and removes polarity. That's a weak pun, but the question is all about polarity, or contrast. After all, I don't know why you argue. I merely concurred and pointed out that one was more equal than the other. – vectory Feb 24 '19 at 3:37
  • Oh, das ist wohl ein Wort. Das hat schon seine Richtigkeit. – vectory Feb 24 '19 at 3:40

Is there any difference between them besides the form with -e being more formal?

I would say: No

Here in southern Germany you typically leave out the "-e" when speaking.

But leaving out the "-e" at the end of words (not only verbs) and even names (!) is typical for the region where I come from.

But this has nothing to do with being formal or non-formal. It only has to do with speaking dialect or speaking Hochdeutsch (official German).

For some verbs (for example lass/lasse) I was even convinced that the form with the "-e" is wrong - until I looked up a dictionary that says that both forms are valid.

(Please note that there are verbs whose imperatives which never end with an "-e": Nimm for example.)

Are then both forms, with and without -e valid and correct?

I looked up some verbs in the dictionary: For some verbs the form without the "-e" seems to be valid, for other verbs the form without the "-e" seems only to be valid in spoken German.

You'll have to look up a dictionary to find out if the form without the "-e" is valid for a certain verb.

By the way:

In older texts you'll often find an apostrophe whenever an "-e" at the end of a word has been left out:

Geh' bitte weg.
Pack' mit an.
Zeig' ihm unsere Wohnung.
Ich will nur meine Ruh'.

(In the last example an "-e" has been left out at the end of a substantive.)

  • Ja, "lass das!" reimt sich einfach so schön. "lasset uns" ist dagegen völlig veraltet. – vectory Feb 23 '19 at 23:32

This depends on dialect.

  • Northern speakers use a soft "schwa" for the end-e on all words, so they put it at soft orders, too. Harsh commands are uttered without an end-e, so it sounds rather snatchy.

Komme mal bitte her. (very soft!)

Komm (du) mal bitte her. (harsh, despite the bitte!)

  • Southern speakers instead omit the end-e on all words, so they omit it at soft orders, too. Harsh commands are uttered with an end-e, to make them sound unusual and snappy.

Komm mal bitte her. (soft!)

Komme (du) mal bitte her. (harsh, despite the bitte!)

As foreign speakers usually learn Hochdeutsch which is spoken only in the dialect-free region of Hannover, you should do it as northern speakers do, with schwa. It would sound odd otherwise, or harsh.

  • 1
    ‘to make them sound unusual and snappy’ — or in one word: Prussian ;) – Jan Oct 19 '16 at 12:46
  • I live in the Harz mountains, where we have a patchwork of northern and southern speakers, depending on whether a family has a miners tradition (dialect from Saxony, Silesia, Bohemia) or not. – Janka Oct 19 '16 at 13:02
  • I don't think this is a matter of regional dialect as much as of register and phonetic environment. "Komm'mal", "Komma" binds very well, but "Bitt Ihn ..." would be virtually unheared of (as a matter of register?). I wanted to say that "Geh bis" needs a stop to avoid sounding like "Geb's", or "Geh zu..." like "Geht's ..." and that eventually the schwa can hide under the stop--but that's handled by lengthening of the first (and only) syllable. An Archaic form would be "Gehe er ..." (often used in place of 2nd p. sg.); Elision would sound odd in that case, as a matter of register. – vectory Feb 23 '19 at 22:10
  • Gehe is a particular interesting example, because the /h/ is not, or very barly, pronounced at all, so there would be little difference between a long /ge:/ or /geə/. Then the difference can be tonal--that would be register in the tonal sense. In gib, the nucleus has shortened so much, I presume, that /e/ in gebe became /i/. This brings me to consider En. give, and that they apparently lost voicing of the terminal -e all together, and has me wondering whether this parallels northern German. Plattdeutsch elides. Also compare "nimm". The soft and harsh distinction doesn't apply. – vectory Feb 23 '19 at 23:05
  • I wouldn't say Hannover, or any other place, is dialect free. It's just that the Hannover dialect is the one they teach to foreigners, and make everyone learn in school, because it's most likely to be understood everywhere. – RDBury Dec 9 '20 at 15:39

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