I was wondering if the hyphen in this phrase are correct: "Blechbe- und -verarbeitung" that phrase was found in a official brochure.

I would rather type it like this: "Blechbe- und verarbeitung".

  • 3
    Note the only case in German where you are allowed to start a (partial) substantive with a lower case letter is when it is preceeded with a hyphen to signal there is an omitted repeating part (that "had" the upper case letter originally). Without a hyphen, verarbeitung is just wrong.
    – tofro
    May 24, 2017 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


Yes, the hyphens are set correct. The hyphens work here as "Ergänzungsstrich". According to the rules (e.g. Duden Regel 31) the hypen is used to show the saving of an equal component.

The long form of the phrase would be

Blechbearbeitung und Blechverarbeitung

so one can see, which part is replaced by the two hyphens.

EDIT: There is no rule, that one have to use a hyphen in such cases. It can be used. The following is a try to explain, how the hyphen is set.

An easy example would be "Eingang und Ausgang". One can see, that the syllable "gang" occours in both words. So you can omit the first occurance and set the hypen: "Ein- und Ausgang".

An other example would be "Textilherstellung und Textilverarbeitung". Here the syllables "Textil" occurs in both words, but now in the beginning. So you can omit the second occurance and write "Textilherstellung und -verarbeitung".

For "Blechbearbeitung und Blechverarbeitung" it is the combination of both cases. The syllables "Blech" and "arbeitung" occure in both words, one at the beginning and the other at the end. So you use the first example for the first word "Blechbearbeitung" which leads to "Blechbe-" and omit the "arbeitung". For the second word "Blechverarbeitung" you use the second example which leads to "-verarbeitung" and omit the "Blech". At last you combine both steps and finally get the result "Blechbe- und -verarbeitung".

  • In full agreement with you, but I think the interesting part is, that the two abbreviated nouns do not overlap perfectly wrt. the hyphen. (ie. the "be" must go for the hyphen ahead of verarbeitung to work. This is implicitely done by the reader, but a machine might aswell build "Blechbeverarbeitung"?) Is this legal, too? May 24, 2017 at 15:02
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    @hiergiltdiestfu No, it isn't, language wasn't made for machines as anyone who tries to make machines understand natural language will certainly agree to. An- und Abreise, for example, follows the same rule and will never be pulled together to Anabreise
    – tofro
    May 24, 2017 at 17:18
  • @tofro: An algorithm could trivially exhibit the same behaviour based upon the fact that Abreise starts with a capital. But generally, the reader has to recognize the shortened terms. May 26, 2017 at 4:29
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    @hiergiltdiestfu: You're right (and of course, that mistake might just as well happen to a human reader), but it's allowed simply because the expectation when using an Ergänzungsstrich is such that readers (human and machine alike) have to know the full words, or even determine them from context. This becomes obvious in otherwise ambiguous cases like Auto- und Motorradflohmarkt - without drawing the connection that Auto and Motorrad are two types of vehicles (and therefore "on par", more likely to be listed like that), one might also think of either a Flohmarkt für Motorräder ... May 26, 2017 at 4:39
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    ... und Autoräder, or even of a Markt für Autos und Motorradflöhe. May 26, 2017 at 4:40

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