What are my punctuation options here:

He said: «When will you come?» or: «When will you come»?

How else can I punctuate that sentence to the standards of the German?

  • To answer the question whether 《》 are correct guillemets: No, they are left/right double angle brackets, Unicode code points U+12298 and U+12299, respectively. Guillemets are «», U+171 and U+187. How to produce these in Android depends on the (virtual) keyboard. – I’m going to edit this part out of the question.
    – chirlu
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 23:15
  • I've got the Galaxy S3 stock keyboard on 4.1.1. Never heard of Unicode....
    – verve
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 8:47
  • Geht es um Zeichensetzung oder Zeichensatz? Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


Because the direct quote is a complete sentence in your example, the question mark is placed inside the quotation marks. So your first version is the right one. However, since you are explicitly asking about the standards for Berlin, in Germany: Outward-pointing guillemets are quite uncommon in Germany (though normal in Switzerland). You would either use them inverted, or use different quotation marks instead:

Er fragte: »Wann kommst du?«
Er fragte: „Wann kommst du?“

About this see also What is the correct way to denote a quotation in German?

If, on the other hand, the quoted part isn’t a complete sentence and the question mark logically belongs to the outer sentence, it is placed after the closing quotation mark:

Ist er an Bord der „Sonnenschein“?

(Here, Sonnenschein is presumed to be the name of a ship.)

  • Should there a space between the quotation mark and either side of the word?
    – verve
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 8:59
  • @verve There is no French Spacing in German (at least in Germany). The question mark follows the word without space and is followed by any non-punctuation with space. Punctuation follows punctuation without space. So it's „Wann kommst du?“ and „Wann kommst du? Ich will es wissen.“. In modern language, also Er(?) kommt am Mittwoch. and Lasst uns am Mittwoch kommen!? are possible.
    – Toscho
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 9:31
  • There is usually a thin space between the word and the quotation mark. ←what does this "thin space" mean then? It's in the link provided by chirlu
    – verve
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 10:26
  • 1
    Es gibt keinen Grund die Sonnenschein in Anführungsstriche zu setzen. Direkte Rede wird mit Anführungsstrichen markiert. Siehe blog.tagesanzeiger.ch/deadline/index.php/3008/… Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 0:40
  • 1
    @Toscho: Actually, there is French spacing in German, but it isn't what you think it is. French spacing means that the space after a sentence is the same width as the space between words.
    – chirlu
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 0:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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