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Should I write Deutschpräsentation or Deutsch Präsentation? Are both correct? Is one simply more used than the other? Or does the first word not even exist? Please be specific in your answer so I can apply this to other words as well. For example, for your answer provided, would it also apply to all other subject matters? (Geschichte, Französisch, Englisch, etc.).

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    Or does the first word not even exist? The most important thing about German compund words is the rule that they always exist. You are allowed to form new compound words as you like. Some may be odd as Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (an actual law) but they are all valid. – Janka Nov 24 '16 at 0:49
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    What is the supposed meaning? It could also be “deutsche Präsentation”. – Carsten S Nov 24 '16 at 7:13
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    a small hint: there is a german word which is not particularly nice: "Deppenleerzeichen", often, for added clarity, written as "Deppen leer Zeichen". As Jan already wrote in his answer: compound nouns are never separated by a space. "only a fool would do that", hence "Deppenleerzeichen. – Burki Nov 24 '16 at 8:10
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    It might be a good idea to add to your question what "Deutschpräsentation" is actually supposed to mean in your opinion. – tofro Nov 24 '16 at 10:01
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There is a clear difference between the two. I very, very strongly suspect that you want to use the first.

Compound nouns in German are formed by connecting two nouns without a space. This is written in the official spelling rules of German, § 37:

Substantive, Adjektive, Verbstämme, Pronomen oder Partikeln können mit Substantiven Zusammensetzungen bilden. Man schreibt sie ebenso wie mehrteilige Substantivierungen zusammen.

Translated:

Nouns, adjectives, verb stems, pronouns or particles can form compounds with nouns. They are written in one word just like multi-part nominalisations.

There is only one further rule which allows for deviation as long as the subjects in question are composed of proper words (no symbols, no digits, no abbreviations) and non proper nouns, namely § 45:

Man kann einen Bindestrich setzen zur Hervorhebung einzelner Bestandteile, zur Gliederung unübersichtlicher Zusammensetzungen, zur Vermeidung von Missverständnissen oder beim Zusammentreffen von drei gleichen Buchstaben.

Translated:

A hyphen may be typeset to emphasise single components, to structure unclear compounds, to prevent misunderstandings or if three identical letters would meet up.

(I emphasised the hyphen. It is always a hyphen, never a space.)

Thus, under the very likely assumption that you were attempting to form a compound noun (history presentation), the only accepted spelling is Deutschpräsentation — unless you need to clarify or emphasise, in which case Deutsch-Präsentation (but nothing else!) would be acceptable. (Hyphenation at the end of a line is a separate matter, but in a nutshell if you hyphenate at the end of a line the word is continued in lowercase letters; distinguishing hyphenation hyphens from explicit hyphens.)


Now what about Deutsch Präsentation? It bears repeating that in over 99 % of cases this spelling is incorrect. It creates two distinct semantic entities whose sole remaining grammatical relationship is being in the same sentence. With a lot of strain, I can contrive a highly fictional example wherein the two words would be ‘correct’:

Ja, das passiert immer, wenn die Deutsch Präsentation spielen will.

I put ‘correct’ between inverted commas because it is really nothing more than grammatical correctness; the sentence is extremely poor semantically. It may be understood to express that something always happens if a person called Deutsch wants to play Präsentation — whatever the meaning of that is. Note that while it is hidden, the two words are different grammatical entities and in different cases.


Therefore, your desired simple rule:

If you want to create a compound noun, write it as a single word with no space.

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    Please note that Deutsch Präsentation, Mathe Arbeit, Mitfahr Gelegenheit, Abend Essen and the like are wrong and referred to as Deppenleerzeichen, which is a very close friend of the Deppenapostroph. – Thorsten Dittmar Nov 24 '16 at 9:49
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    The examples don't have to be quite that contrived - "Der Gartenexperte unterrichtet auf Englisch Gartenpflege, der Präsentationsexperte unterrichtet auf Deutsch Präsentation." Of course, in neither case, we are looking at a single term, rather two terms that happen to be in adjacent positions in the sentence. – O. R. Mapper Nov 24 '16 at 10:40
  • @O.R.Mapper I actually tried (but failed) to think up an example like your’s which is actually idiomatic. I probably failed because I stuck too much on me wanting Deutsch to be a noun as in an object. – Jan Nov 24 '16 at 15:37
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Among these two options, Deutschpräsentation should be used.

From context it might be clear, but on its own I would have difficulty understanding what a Deutschpräsentation is. Is it a presentation about the German language, is it a presentation about Physics given in German,...?

To avoid misunderstanding, I'd be more specific and write something:

  • eine Präsentation im Fach/Kurs ...

  • eine Präsentation in deutscher Sprache....

    oder ähnliches.

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    As a native German speaker, I wouldn't have any difficulty understanding what a Deutschpräsentation is (assuming the OP means what a native speaker would understand it as) - that word can only ever mean a talk about the topic German, as you first suggested. I don't think any native German speaker would ever use a compound to describe a talk in a given language. – O. R. Mapper Nov 24 '16 at 10:42
  • Still sounds odd to me (as a native speaker) – user1583209 Nov 24 '16 at 13:19
  • Writing it as a compound noun to me suggests that it is a fixed term, commonly used, while a "talk about the topic German" to me seems rather specific. Would you use words like "Eherechtpräsentation, Elektrodynamikpräsentation...."? I could imagine naming a file on my computer like that, but when talking I'd say: "Präsentation über/zum Thema...." – user1583209 Nov 24 '16 at 13:42
  • I agree that maybe the use to describe the talk in German would be unusual, but I could still think of two meanings for "Deutschpräsentation": 1) a talk by say a native (or at least fluent) Germanistik student, or 2) a talk by somebody studying German with the purpose of practicing the language – user1583209 Nov 24 '16 at 13:44
  • "Would you use words like 'Eherechtpräsentation, Elektrodynamikpräsentation....'?" - yes, I would. "but I could still think of two meanings for 'Deutschpräsentation'" - that is correct, but both meanings are possible for "Präsentation über die deutsche Sprache", as well. – O. R. Mapper Nov 24 '16 at 13:53

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