It seems common to drop the end-schwa of first-person verbs. I've both heard it and seen it written.

Ich hab' eine Frage.

Ich geh' zur Uni.

I'm wondering:

  • Does writing or talking like this seem juvenile?
  • Would it be OK in a professional meeting or letter?
  • Is it ever too formal to write or say „ich habe“?

4 Answers 4



"Ich habe" is the accepted correct written form. It is always OK to use it.

It is never OK to use "ich hab" in professional or official written communication.

"Ich hab" is fine in informal conversations like forums, chat rooms or personal E-Mails.

However, even if the spoken form would be thick with colloquialisms, it is perfectly normal for informal written communication to obey the rules of correct German.

Real world example: When I speak with my father, we use very heavy swabian. In all written communication however, we use perfect high german.


In speaking, "Ich habe" is never wrong. However, in most everyday informal conversations in most areas of the country, the trailing e is swallowed.

To someone learning German as a second language, I'd say if in doubt, use "ich habe". Continued exposure to everyday interactions with Germans will show you quickly when and where it is usually dropped.

  • 2
    @user but not in writing, which the paragraph was about.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 16:25
  • 2
    @user my statement It is never OK to use "ich hab" in professional or official communication is related to writing. Show me an instance where the abbreviated form is used in a written, official document
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 18:43
  • 2
    @user There is a big fat "writing" in the first line?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 18:59
  • 3
    @user: Erm, what's the problem with "dafür soll sich das Land ..."? (And why did you put a '?) Am I blind? Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 21:25
  • 3
    @user: Why do you want to say "er solle dies tun"? This is just something different than "er soll dies tun", isn't it? Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 13:48

Does writing or talking like this seem juvenile?

No, it doesn't sound juvenlie. It's very common in spoken language.

Would it be OK in a professional meeting or letter?

It's probably OK in most meetings. I'd avoid it in formal texts and letters though.

Is it ever too formal to write or say „ich habe“?


By the way, there is an orthography rule for the apostrophe:

Kein Apostroph bei Auslassung

Der Apostroph wird nicht verwendet, wenn eine verkürzte Wortform allgemein üblich und/oder unmissverständlich ist:

Man schreibt im Allgemeinen keinen Apostroph für das weggefallene Endungs-e bei Verbformen der ersten Person Singular und des Imperativs:

  • Ich steh im Regen.
  • Ich hör dich nicht mehr.
  • Das lass ich mir von niemandem bieten!>


  • Schließ das Fenster!
  • Komm bitte hierher! -Geh mir aus den Augen!
  • 3
    Der Gebrauch in professionellen Meetings dürfte von den Berufsgruppen abhängen. Im Computerumfeld sehen wir das etwas legerer.
    – bernd_k
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 10:04
  • Bei Apostroph nach Imperativ bluten mir immer die Augen. :-( Commented May 29, 2011 at 11:48
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    I would upvote this for the apostrophy comment, but I don't quite agree on the -e issue. Pekka's answer is better here, in my opinion.
    – fzwo
    Commented May 30, 2011 at 9:03
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    @fzwo no problem. I also upvoted Pekka's answer. :)
    – splattne
    Commented May 30, 2011 at 9:05
  • If you would just add that writing without the e seems a bit juvenile/informal/lyrical, I think the answer would be perfect.
    – fzwo
    Commented May 30, 2011 at 9:08

In writing, you will always see "Ich habe", unless you want to convey spoken language as a literary device for whatever reason.


Both in spoken as in informal written communication, it is common to drop the ending -e in phrases like

Ich hab mir das schon oft vorgestellt.

Ich frag mich, ob das immer schon so war.

(BTW, I don't think that the apostrophe is required when dropping the "e". )

In formal written communication, it is better to use the full verb form, though.

If I see "Ich habe" or "Ich frage" etc in informal written comms, like an email, it does not strike me as overly formal. It's simply correct :) . But dropping the "e" in formal comms would be considered incorrect, I think.

  • Übrigens: außerhalb des Internet kennt ein Deutscher BTW (by the way nicht)
    – bernd_k
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 10:09
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    AFAIC, both the question and the answer were written in English. I don't see any issues with using common abbreviations for things like "by the way" or "as far as I'm concerned". Had my answer been provided in German, these abbreviations would have been out of place. But it was not, so they were not. What's the problem?
    – teylyn
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 10:26

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