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In this site, it's said that "ich habe" when contracted as "ich hab'" is wrong, but, when I saw lyrics of many German songs, it seems this construction is correct z.B.

Kleine Maus ich geh' zur Ruh'

Mach' jetzt alle Fenster zu

So, my question is this usage of apostrophe actually correct or not?

2 Answers 2

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It depends; in poetry and song texts it is a standard technique to stay within the verse scheme. Here you see the truncated form even without apostrophe. I would prefer the apostrophe to signal, that you were aware of the omission.

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  • So to be clear, this is not standard in standard writing? Apr 5, 2022 at 7:18
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    @Buraian That is correct. You'll find these omissions where meter matters (songs, poems) or in spoken word (and written depictions thereof) but not in standard writing.
    – xyldke
    Apr 5, 2022 at 7:51
  • The answer does not distinguish between processes of apocope (e.g. dropping final unstressed -e) and their results, which regard pronunciation, and the use of the apostrophe, which regards the spelling (hab' and hab are identical in the first regard, but not the second). Also, the topic of correctness isn't explicitly addressed (are both forms correct? By which rule? Is one preferred over the other?).
    – David Vogt
    Apr 5, 2022 at 8:34
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No, this usage of the apostrophe is incorrect.

Using an apostrophe when a trailing -e of nouns or certain verb forms has been omitted is not listed under § 96 of the official orthography rules and therefore it is generally not a valid usage of the apostrophe.

There is an exception if the word might otherwise be hard to understand or ambiguous, such as in the example mentioned by Tofro:

Das Wasser rauscht', das Wasser schwoll.

Here, the apostrophe makes it clear that the verb is in preterite form (rauschte with an ommitted trailing -e), not present (rauscht).

Using an apostrophe in a contraction like the following is correct:

Ich sag's dir.

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  • §97(2) even has an example for omitting a trailing "-e" that is aligned with the above: Das Wasser rauscht', das Wasser schwoll
    – tofro
    Apr 5, 2022 at 7:05
  • I edited my answer to clarify this point.
    – RHa
    Apr 5, 2022 at 7:12
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    Your first sentence and the general answer are still wrong
    – tofro
    Apr 5, 2022 at 8:03
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    No, it's not. The Rechtschreibduden explicitly states: Es steht kein Apostroph für das ausgelassene Schluss-e bei Substantiven und bestimmten Verbformen. This is the general rule, summarizing what the official rules say. Using an apostrophe for avoiding ambiguity or better comprehension is an exception in these cases.
    – RHa
    Apr 5, 2022 at 8:29
  • My "Richtiges und gutes Deutsch" Duden very clearly says: Der Apostroph steht für das weggelassene '-e' in folgenden Formen des Verbs: 1. Person Singular Indikativ Präsens, 1. und 3. Person Singular Indikativ Präteritum, 1. und 3. Person Singular Konjunktiv I und II - So, apparently these are not "bestimmte Verbformen"...
    – tofro
    Apr 7, 2022 at 8:07

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