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I'm trying to figure out the difference between the following two sentences in regards to the use of beiden/beide.

Die beiden kommen um 8 Uhr zu Besuch.

Sie beide kommen.

I'm trying to understand when one would use one form of beide over the other but I'm unable to figure out what the difference is.

I've read the following link but I'm still confused: Correct usage of "beide": does it require the article?

My german friend who I asked earlier today, could only come up with the first sentence answering the question "was macht man?" while the second question asks "wer kommt?" but I'm not sure that helps me.

For example, the first sentence states:

The two of them are coming at 8 to visit

and the second sentence just states

They are both coming. (in the context of asking who is coming?)

But could you also use the second sentence as a start to a longer explanation? For example:

Sie beide kommen, um mir zu helfen. (or is that completely wrong?)

In what situations would you use each form of beide?

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The second sentence sounds really odd and I wouldn't say it. The only situation I can come up with is "Sie" as formal plural 2nd person "you" and asking "Sie (beide) kommen?" where "beide" emphasize that I talk to both of them. If, however, "sie" is "they", I wouldn't combine "sie" with "beide". I would say "Die beiden kommen" or "Beide kommen" or if there are 3 or more people "Die kommen". –  Em1 Feb 13 at 11:21
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I am not completely sure, but I think "beide/beiden" is used in a different semantic way here.

  • "Die beiden" is more of a compound, where you couldn't leave the "beiden" out. You would use this to refer to tho two of them as one unit.
  • In "Sie beide", the "beide" is a modifier, which describes the "Sie" further. Note how you could in principle leave "beide" out if it is already clear from the context: "Die beiden kommen um acht. Sie bringen Wein mit." The "beide" emphasizes further that you're talking about both of them: "Sie beide bringen Wein mit." would probably mean "They're bringing a bottle of wine each."

Actually you're already making this point by translating the two sentences to very different translations.

Edit: As Em1 points out, putting the "beide" directly behind "Sie" does sound a bit awkward. Try "Sie kommen beide.", which emphasizes that it is both of them.

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Die beiden kommen

would translate to both of them.

Sie beide kommen

is a bit weird. Usually you'd say

Sie kommen beide

meaning that you want to emphasize that they both will come, not just one of them.

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Sie beide kommen um 8 Uhr.

is more formal. It emphasizes that both will come at that specific time, not just the one or the other. It is the right answer to the question

Kommt Alice früher als Bob?

In contrast

Die beiden

is more relaxed. It denominates two out of more people or two explicitly mentioned persons. It would be the right choice if you refer backwards.

Ich habe mit Alice und Bob gesprochen. Die beiden kommen um acht.

You could also say

Ich habe mit Alice und Bob gesprochen. Sie beide kommen um acht.

Which is more formal. Some people think it is impolite to refer to people with "der" or "die".

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Wohoo, a crypto-specialist. Welcome to German.Stackexchange. –  Vogel612 Feb 13 at 20:08
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