6

I know 'war' is the Präteritum tense of 'sein', but what's happening when an 's' is added here?

Ich wars

It was me

Over

Ich war

It was


This is in the Oxford - German dictionary.

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3
  • I'm not familiar with that kind of declination of verbs. Sorry I appreciate this is really basic question. – Rol Jan 8 at 12:37
  • Just be glad you haven't read "I bims" for "Ich bins" yet... – Polygnome Jan 8 at 23:47
  • "Ich war" doesn't mean "It was"; it means "I was." "Ich wars" is a contraction of "Ich war es.", literally "I was it." – Michael Hardy Jan 9 at 18:24
10

Often people write wars sloppily in written colloquial speech. Both variants, wars and war’s, are a reduced form of war es. “Ich war es” is the correct translation of “It was me”.

That wars is as possible as war’s. So your dictionary is correct.

The rule behind that is here, and wars is meant appropriately:

In den folgenden Fällen wird üblicherweise kein Apostroph gesetzt:

  1. bei Verbindungen der Kurzform des Pronomens es mit dem vorangehenden Wort – sofern das Lesen nicht erschwert wird.

    Zum Beispiel:

    • Wie gehts (auch: geht’s) dir?
    • Sie machte sichs (auch: sich’s) bequem.
    • Wenns (auch: Wenn’s) weiter nichts ist …
    • Aber eher: Sie weiß, wo’s langgeht.

translation of Duden entry:

Usually no apostrophe is used in the following cases:

  1. When combining the short form of the pronoun es with the preceding word – as long as reading is not made difficult.

    For example:

    • How are you?
    • She made herself comfortable.
    • If is nothing more …
    • But rather: she knows what’s going on.
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  • 2
    Do you have a source for the claim that the apostrophe is obligatory? – David Vogt Jan 8 at 12:57
  • 1
    @DavidVogt: Thanx, you're right. I have corrected my answer now. :) – äüö Jan 8 at 13:21
  • 4
    I'm quite sure it was not allowed a few years ago. It still looks wrong to me without apostrophe. Maybe a result of the spelling reform which allowed a lot of weird things. – äüö Jan 8 at 13:27
  • 1
    I second the opinion that it looks wrong without apostrophe. – leftaroundabout Jan 9 at 10:02
  • 1
    @äüö I can't remember a time where it wasn't allowed. So it must predate 1996. – xehpuk Jan 9 at 22:46
6

Bins and wars are mergers of the verb forms bin and war, respectively (1st and 3rd person singular indicative of sein), with the personal pronoun es. Or shorter:

  • bins = bin + es
  • wars = war + es

Other answers that were posted so far claim that these forms were sloppy or even wrong, because an apostrophe was missing (bin's and war's). However, at least since the latest orthographic reform, it is not typical to put an apostrophe there. One could argue whether § 97 of the orthographic rules applies:

§ 97

Man kann den Apostroph setzen, wenn Wörter gesprochener Sprache mit Auslassungen bei schriftlicher Wiedergabe undurchsichtig sind.


You can put the apostrophe when words of spoken language with omissions are obscure when written.

However, "Ich bins!" and "Ich wars!" aren't obscure at all. DUDEN Online substantiates what § 97 means for mergers with the pronoun es. In D14 (4.) they write:

D14

In den folgenden Fällen wird üblicherweise kein Apostroph gesetzt:

4. bei Verbindungen der Kurzform des Pronomens es mit dem vorangehenden Wort – sofern das Lesen nicht erschwert wird.

ZUM BEISPIEL:

  • Wie gehts (auch: geht’s) dir?
  • Sie machte sichs (auch: sich’s) bequem.
  • Wenns (auch: Wenn’s) weiter nichts ist ...
  • Aber eher: Sie weiß, wo’s langgeht.

In the following cases, no apostrophe is usually placed:

4. in connections of the short form of the pronoun es with the preceding word – as long as it does not make reading more difficult.

In summary, the examples in your dictionary conform to the current rules.

1
  • The -s and similar suffixes in spoken languages can be analyzed as clitics (although they're rarely called as such). – phipsgabler Jan 8 at 14:39

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