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?

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    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
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 8:36
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    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
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 9:47
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    Be sure to use an apostrophe when writing "nen" instead of "einen", since you're omitting letters there.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 10:36
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    @musiKk I don't think anybody does that in spoken language. I've never heard "Haste mal nen Mark?".
    – fzwo
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 11:10
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    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. Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


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

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    SMS (12 more to go - never use it in comments :), they need to have at least 16 chars). Commented Jan 9, 2012 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.

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