In Dutch we use quotes for text that is spoken, but we do not use quotes for thoughts.

'Mag ik een ijsje, Mama?' vraagt ze.

Ze zijn van mij, denkt ze.

Does the same apply to German?

„Darf ich ein Eis haben, Mama?" fragt sie.

Sie gehören mir, denkt sie.

1 Answer 1


In §89 des amtlichen Regelwerkes (Mit Anführungszeichen schließt man etwas wörtlich Wiedergegebenes ein.) ist das Beispiel

„Das war also Paris!", dachte Frank.

angegeben, obwohl es nicht im konkreten Sinne wörtliche Rede ist. Dennoch werden Gedanken dazu gezählt.

Auch möglich wäre

„Wenn doch nur alles vorüber wäre“, dachte Petra.


Petra dachte: „Wenn doch nur alles vorüber wäre."

Die kurze Antwort ist also: Ja, auch Gedanken werden in Anführungszeichen gesetzt. (Es gibt aber auch andere Möglichkeiten wie etwa das Weglassen der Anführungszeichen oder das Verwenden von Kursiv-Schrift. Ich habe in Büchern und Texten schon alle Möglichkeiten gesehen. Es kommt am Ende wohl auf die genaue Situation und Regeln des Verlags an.)

In §89 of the official rules and regulations (With inverted commas you enclose something literally.) the example

„Das war also Paris!", dachte Frank.

is given, although it is not literal speech in the concrete sense. Nevertheless, thoughts are counted among them.

Also possible

„Wenn doch nur alles vorüber wäre“, dachte Petra.


Petra dachte: „Wenn doch nur alles vorüber wäre."

So the short answer is: Yes, even thoughts are put in quotes. (But there are also other possibilities, such as omitting the inverted commas or using italics. I have already seen all the possibilities in books and texts. In the end it probably depends on the exact situation and rules of the publisher.)

  • 6
    Please do not use inline code spans for emphasis, as laid out here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135112/…. Its confusing for screen-readers and others.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 13:57
  • It's pretty much the same in English and, I'm assuming, many languages. Of course, quotes would not be used in a dass clause or similar paraphrasing: Ich dachte, dass es grün ist, aber es ist braun.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 15:36
  • @Polygnome I don't mind not doing it. But then why is it even possible? I do understand the reason, because it could be confused with code. But german.SE does not have that at all.
    – choXer
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 19:16
  • @choXer Because the biggest sites in the network are heavily tech-oriented and need code markup, and the software is the same for all sites.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 19:31
  • 3
    @choXer A screenreader or any other piece of software doesn't know that. It sees that you have marked some stuff as being code and will act accordingly, whatever that means. Every software that tries to assign meaning to your text will be tripped up. Screenreaders are just one example, search engines might be another. There is simply no reason to semantically mark something as code when its not actual code. Its not just some visual format that is applied, its a semantic element.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 19:41

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