If you have a word like 'Strasse' and it forms part of a street name for example, then I would assume that you still pronounce the word as though it were by itself.

But are there examples of when you wouldn't pronounce ST as SHT?

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    Am besten fragst Du jemanden, der das Shtudiert hat. I don't know the underlying rule...
    – bjoernz
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 9:55

2 Answers 2


In standard German pronunciation, this happens when (and only when) st is the first part of a syllable.

Straße -- Stra·ße -- /ˈʃt/

verstehen -- ver·ste·hen -- /ˈʃt/

Kasten -- kas·ten -- /st/

bester -- bes·ter -- /st/

fast -- fast -- /st/

I'll add that there are a few loan words that can be pronounced without the SH sound, e.g. Star, Stimulus, Stracciatella, Spam, Stil. See the comments for some discussion on the subject.

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    +1; correct for standard German. Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:01
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    @Gigili It doesn't matter which syllable it happens in, as long as it's the onset.
    – Tim
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:11
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    Does the same hold true for SP = SHP then? Sorry, it's not completely clear Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:25
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    Some northern Germans, especially in Hamburg, do what is called "Stolpern übern spitzen Stein", pronounced without /ʃ/. My grandfather (originally form Soltau) and my uncle used to talk that way. My mother consciously changed to the standard way when she was a teenager in the 1950s.
    – starblue
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 11:29
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    @Oregon Stracciatella is practically always pronounced Italian in Austria.
    – Phira
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 13:00

Many people tend to pronounce Latin-derived words with sharp s, like Strategie, though it is still correct to pronounce it as sht. However, there are also many dialects, especially in Northern Germany, that always prounounce it as st, not sht.

On the other hand, I could think of a different case: Martinstrasse vs. Martinstraße (Martins-Trasse vs. Martin-Straße). Of course, in the first case, it's no longer Straße ;)

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    As much as the Hamburger pronounce st always sharp many dialects always pronounce the st like sht.
    – Takkat
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:19
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    @Takkat: Which makes matters even more complicated for learners ;) Commented May 31, 2011 at 10:25
  • @Takkat: And adds a reason to add the Hamburger slang hint to the answer. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 0:47
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    And southern Germans might even say "beshten". It's part of the "Lautverschiebung", which is strongest in the south.
    – Jules
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 10:27

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