Friday, September 30, 2011

Duzen and Siezen


In yesterday’s post I used the term ‘duzen,’ and thought that today I would go into that term a little more.

For ‘you’ singular there are two options:     du (informal) and Sie (formal)

Duzen – is to address someone in the informal you, the ‘du’ form.
Siezen – is to address someone in the formal you, the ‘Sie’ form.

You should always use the ‘Sie’ form with people, unless they are children.  The ‘Sie form is formal and used when addressing elders, officials, bosses and is used even between neighbors and work colleagues. It is a sign of respect.

There will be times when people with whom you have used the ‘Sie’ form will say something like “Du kannst mich duzen,”  They are saying you can now use the informal ‘du’ form and no longer need to use the formal ‘Sie’ form when addressing them. This is something you will just have to feel out for yourself. As a native English speaker, we do no distinguish between formal and informal, everyone is addressed with 'you', and this concept is sometimes hard to grasp.  

Germans have become more relaxed about duzen and siezen., though that said, it is still very important to use. It still carries weight and is an important and simple sign of respect. You will find that more people are dropping the formality once you have gotten to know one another better.

Some Notes:

If the elder, teacher, official is using the ‘du’ form with you, it is not a sign that you are now allowed to duzen them back. They will specifically invite you to use the ‘du’ form, so until that happens siezen them all the way.

You can not initiate using the ‘du’ form when addressing the (for lack of a better term) higher ranking person. However if you do, they will not be (or I hope they won't be) so rude as to tell you out right that you must use the ‘Sie’ form when addressing them, but will instead, address you back with the ‘Sie’ form indicating you two are on formal term and you should use the ‘Sie’ form.

And as a foreigner, I find it best to siezen until told otherwise. It is respectful and people appreciate it and most people (who are not grandparent like) will quickly ask me to duzen. 


  • Do you have trouble with duzen and siezen?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hallo, Guten Tag and more . . .


Hello 

Welcome to my German Language Blog! I have been learning German on and off for the last 15 years and hadn’t make much progress till I was able to immerse myself into the German Culture and Language here in Berlin. I have really enjoy learning German and thought to share with all of you! So enjoy!

So for the first post we will start with Hello!

Hallo –is obvious I hope, but there are other ways to say “Hi.”

Guten Tag  -(direct translation = Good Day) the standard ‘Hello’ used all over Germany

Moin  -‘Hello’ from the north of Germany, often doubled up “ Moin Moin.” Note: This is used as a general  greeting, not a shorten version of Good Morning, ‘Guten Morgen.’  

Grüß Gott – (direct translation = Greeting God) this “Hello” is most popular in the south, specifically Bavaria. Note: When you know someone well, and you already duzen (use the ‘du’ form and not the ‘Sie’ form when addressing them) than you can use Grüß dich (Greeting you).

Servus –“Hello” also from the south of Germany, though this is a more casual greeting in my opition and not used as often as Gruß Gott.

  • Does anyone know any other ways to say Hello?