When we have a German word composed of two or more terms, is there always an 's' between the two words? Someone who lived in Germany for a long time told me that there is always an 's', but as far as I remember there are words that don't need 's' in between. However, as my level is not that good in German, I can't think of any examples.


The s is called "Fugen-s" and is not always used. There is no general rule for its use, so its appliance is a question of feeling.

It is generally used when the first word ends with -tum, -ling, -ion, -tät, -heit, -keit, -schaft, -sicht, -ung as well as with Verbs used as Noun ending with -en:

Altertumsforschung, Frühlingserwachen, Kommunionsfest, Realitätsverlust, Einheitsfeier, Heiterkeitsanfall, Eigenschaftswort, Ansichtskarte, Erinnerungsvermögen

Essensreste, Lebensfreude, Leidensweg, Redensart, Schlafenszeit, Sehenswürdigkeit, Sterbenswörtchen, Wissenslücke

Schadensersatz, but: Schadenfreude

(and a lot more, not necessarily following the rule above)

There is no Fugen-s in

Weltkugel, Nachtzug, Fruchtsaft, Kammerdiener, Lageplan, Redezeit, Musikzimmer, Naturschutz, Schurwolle, Räuberhauptmann, Ritterburg, Steuererklärung, Zigeunerjunge, Nebelhorn, Paddelboot, Pendeluhr, Wendeltreppe, Nebenstraße, Ladenpassage, Rasenfläche, Wagenachse, Grußkarte, Lastwagen, Sitzkissen, Putzmittel, Herzkammer (and many more)

(from zwiebelfisch)

Note that the use of Fugen-s's differs in different German speaking Countries.

See Wikipedia: Fugenlaut (in German) for more information

  • oder Schadenfreiheitsklasse
    – Emanuel
    May 23 '13 at 10:29
  • 2
    As described further in the Wikipedia article linked to above, there are also several other joining elements beside -s-.
    – chirlu
    May 23 '13 at 12:55
  • 2
    "Note that the use of Fugen-s's differs in different German speaking Countries." - exactly. Here in Austria, it's always "Schadenersatz", never "Schadensersatz" Dec 17 '14 at 14:35
  • I am a German native and I've never heard or use "Schadensersatz" either. Only "Schadenersatz". Dec 18 '14 at 13:19
  • Shortly before you discussed this this blog post was published: klartext-jura.de/2014/11/02/schadensersatz-oder-schadenersatz Even the laws regulating Schadensersatz (which I would have used intuitively, I think) are not consistent. May 10 '17 at 9:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.