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I have seen the word "heut" and searched in Wiktionary, it says it is an alternative (colloquial) form of "heute". What is the difference between "heute" and "heut"? How to use them?

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    The difference is that heut is colloquial, as the Wiktionary already mentioned, no other difference either. – πάντα ῥεῖ Dec 25 '18 at 11:41
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There is no difference in their meaning. They mean the same. But there is a difference in the context where you can use them.

  • heute
    This is the "official" form of this word. You can read it in newspapers.
  • heut
    This is the colloquial form of the same word. You will not find it in newspapers (except for verbatim quotes of spoken phrases) but you will hear it very often when native speakers chat with each others. Maybe in some decades or centuries "heut" will be the official form (then "heute" will be the outdated form), but today it is not.

Like every living language, German is changing all the time. Some changes happen quickly, some are slow. One slow change, that is in progress since more than a century, is the elimination of unstressed -e at the end of a word.

You can see this in the dative form of many masculine and neuter nouns, where today the -e is completely vanished:

  • Old (from a well known poem): Am Brunnen vor dem Tore.
  • Today: Der Ball liegt vor dem Tor.

Some month ago, someone had a question about German adjectives that end in an “e” such as “leise” and “lose”, and in my answer I wrote a list of adjectives that are loosing their -e just now. You can watch this process since many decades, and it will go on for many more decades. This is the list I wrote in the other answer:

allein, bang, blöd, bös, derb, fad, feig, mild, nah, öd, rapid, sacht, spröd, stupid, träg, trüb, zäh

They all exist also with an -e at the end (alleine, bange, blöde, ...), and in some cases the form with -e is still more common the the e-less form, while for some other words the opposite is true.

But this is nothing that is typical for adjectives. It happens in all kinds of words. The ending -e is vanishing everywhere, and it is vanishing very slowly.

But there are also some words where it can't vanish, because if you leave it out, you get a different word with a different meaning. Here are some examples:

  • die Falle = trapp
    der Fall = case

  • die Buche = beech (a tree)
    das Buch = book

  • der Zeuge = witness
    das Zeug = stuff

  • die Reise = journey
    der Reis = rice

There is no change that the -e of those words will vanish as long as the other words without -e still exists.

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  • I guess it depends on where you live. I don't think anyone here would say "heut". Sounds rather as coming from southern regions. IOW, much more a regional form of "heute" than a colloquial one. – Rudy Velthuis Dec 26 '18 at 17:13
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There is no systematic difference between the full and the shortened form except that one is a syllable shorter.

Pretty much any word ending in an unstressed e can be shortened: Katze/Katz', gehe/geh', große/gross', eine/ein'... It depends on the level of formality, the need to conform to a specific meter, the speed at which someone is speaking etc. etc. whether the ending is reduced or not.

But I know of no case where the full and shortened forms constitute a minimal pair, i.e. expressions with systematically different meanings. This seems to be purely phonetic reduction. German simply hasn't yet brought the process to such extremes as e.g. French.

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    Eine/ein? This is a huge difference. The canonical forms would be ein / 'n eine / 'ne – infinitezero Dec 25 '18 at 11:46
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    Im Fall der Minimalpaare bist du in eine Falle getappt, denn davon gibt es viele: Erst kommt der Erste. Der Lange ist 2 Meter lang. Erst als die Dritte kam waren sie zu dritt. Es gab eine Marke, die kostete eine Mark. Eine Buche ist kein Buch. Ein Musiker in Not spielt eine falsche Note. Während meiner Reise nach China aß ich viel Reis. Mein Freund ist Zeuge, er aß auch viel von dem Zeug. Mein Rat lautet: Bezahle die nächste Rate. Die Zwecke erfüllte ihren Zweck. Mit List schrieb ich diese Liste. – Hubert Schölnast Dec 25 '18 at 14:38
  • @infiniezero. "Ein feste Burg...." – fdb Dec 27 '18 at 20:11
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There is no difference in meaning.

But "heut" is simply a regional form of "heute", usually used in the southern German speaking regions.

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