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For example

Wenn jemanden etwas stört, sagt er's offen und direkt

How is this different

Wenn jemanden etwas stört, sagt er offen und direkt

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    I'm not sure whether the second sentence is intentionally written as it is. As it stands, it sounds incomplete - "sagt er" ... ja, was sagt er denn? This part should be extended to "sagt er es". But then, this is kind of directly a part of the answer, so I'm not sure whether the omission is intentional or not. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 21:28
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    The last sentence is incorrect. It should be 'sagt er es' in the last sentence. And the first sentence is just a colloquial contraction.
    – shuhalo
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 21:05

2 Answers 2

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The verb sagen is transitive in German, just as "to say" is transitive (for most meanings) in English. In other words you have to mention what is said, even if it's only with a pronoun. So in English, you'd have to include the "it" in "If something bothers someone, they say it openly and directly." Similarly, German allows you to contract the es to 's, but as noted in the comments, dropping it entirely sounds wrong, even if the meaning is clear.

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In "er's", the apostrophe marks the omission of letters, it replaces "... er es".

A similar use of the apostrophe exists in English, e.g. "it is" -> "it's" or "do not" -> "don't".

On Wikipedia you can find an explanation of the uses of the apostrophe in the German language (in German).

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