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Sehr geehrter Herr Robert

(s)eit zwei Wochen.....

Mit freundlichen Gruessen

Should I capitalize the (s) or not? In many video I saw it wasn't capitalize, so it that the general rule?

3 Answers 3

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It depends on the punctuation you use at the end of the greeting line, "Sehr geehrter Herr Robert".

As it stands, you don't have any, which is wrong anyway. You can either end it with an exclamation mark (old style), in which case you have to start the first word of the text "Seit" with a capital "S". Or you end it with a comma (current style), in which case the first word of the text is not capitalized.

So either you write:

Sehr geehrter Herr Robert!

Seit zwei Wochen ...

Or:

Sehr geehrter Herr Robert,

seit zwei Wochen ...

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    To give some time perspective, the exclamation mark was being phased out back when I went to school in the 1980s.
    – HalvarF
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 22:06
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    @cmaster-reinstatemonica I think you are incorrectly applying your English language feel to German here. The exclamation mark was the standard punctuation at the end of the greeting until about 50 years ago, and nobody felt like shouting when using it, or like being shouted at when being so addressed. Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 16:32
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    "As it stands, you don't have any, which is wrong anyway." – Keep in mind that this depends on the country. In Switzerland, no punctuation is used after the salutation and the beginning of the next line is capitalized. Given the closing line in the OP ("Grüssen" instead of "Grüßen"), they may be located in Switzerland.
    – Mophotla
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 16:36
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    @Mophotla I suggest you write an answer to that effect. I am not that familiar with Swiss German so I'll stand back on that. Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 16:46
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    @Mophotla: The closing line doesn't contain "Grüssen" it contains "Gruessen" - which suggests to me that the OP doesn't have easy access to non-ASCII characters, rather than they are avoiding ß because they are in CH. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 9:05
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It depends - on the punctuation.

If the address of the person is - as usual and recommended - separated by a comma, then the sentence just continues and 'seit' is not the first word of a new sentence:

Sehr geehrter Herr Robert,

seit zwei Wochen..

One can use an exclamation mark at the end of the address to the person. That's meanwhile uncommon and considered deprecated. In that case 'Seit' starts a new sentence and hence is capitalized:

Sehr geehrter Herr Robert!

Seit zwei Wochen...

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  • 1
    Do you maybe have a less spammy link?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 7:52
  • Is this better? Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 10:54
  • Still just one person’s opinion there, but that page looks much nicer. Thanks.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 11:51
  • Pages like Duden don't elaborate well on the usage - thus are not much help. These communication coaching guides (as much as they want to sell their service) are much better in these cases. Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 12:20
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    @CarstenS, Still just one person’s opinion there - considering that almost everything written on StackExchange is more or less the opinion of the respective author, and very few SE's formally require citations or justifications of any kind, that seems not particularly important... the voting mechanism will take care of that.
    – AnoE
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 8:42
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In German, that letter is not capitalized.

The first word of the first sentence of the letter is "Sehr", which is capitalized, while "seit" is in the middle of that sentence.

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    Interesting, then why don't they put Sehr in the same line if it is the first word Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 21:30
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    @EthakkaappamwithChai: I don't think orthography precludes inserting linebreaks after any words in a sentence. In fact, poems routinely do that, break lines without making use of the available horizontal space. Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 21:39
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    @EthakkaappamwithChai Because the "Sehr" is part of the greeting, even though it's also the start of the first sentence. That's why you must add a comma at the end of the greeting, because the sentence continues after that. And because the sentence continues after the greeting, you do not capitalize the first word after the comma. The newline separates the greeting from the body, but the first sentence extends over the boundary. Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 16:32

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