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I know "doch" is used to contradict a negative statement:

A: Das ist nicht wahr.

B: Doch!

It's a great word for this usage and some languages really lack this word.

But, I found it hard to use "doch" in sentence, when it can be removed without hurting the sentence.

A: Wann kann ich mal zu Ihnen kommen?

B: Kommen Sie doch morgen um 10 Uhr.

Is it something like "anyway, come tomorrow morning at 10"? Is it necessary to use it there?

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Doch, halt, eben, schon, mal, ja, nun - it's usage, usage, usage. Difficult to learn from books, much easier in spoken language where intonation and context will let you guess the meaning. –  Lumi Jun 4 '11 at 18:52
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I often think of it as similar to the way we use the English word "do" - as in, "I do want to go to New York" rather than just "I want to go to New York." –  Thomas Andrews Jun 4 '11 at 20:51
    
"Nun ja, dann kommen Sie halt doch eben mal schon morgen um 10 Uhr." –  blutorange Feb 27 at 16:31
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7 Answers 7

up vote 26 down vote accepted

There are already good answers to the question, but I would like to add a slightly more general one.

The word "doch" is in this context an example of a modal particle. These are words that are added to a sentence to convey mood or emphasis. They have no grammatical purpose so the sentence you get by removing the particle is always a proper sentence. But you lose the subtle nuances that modal particles convey. So the answer to your question is yes, you can remove "doch", but it will alter the way your sentence is received by the listener.

Examples of particles taken from canoo.net: doch, bloß, halt, mal, nicht, sehr, überaus, sogar, selbst, auch, erst, schon, überhaupt,

The meaning of these particles can be complex and highly dependent on context so many second language learners have problems understanding them properly (at least you and I seem to think so, Gigili). This excerpt from the Wikipedia article about German modal particles shows some of the complexity of the word "doch":

Doch can have several meanings. For one, it can be used affirmatively, or it can convey emphasis, urgency or impatience, or it can serve as a reply to a real or imagined, or pre-emptively answered, disagreement, hesitation, or wrong assumption on the part of the listener, or other people. In other situations this can have different effects.

Gehst Du nicht nach Hause? Doch, ich gehe gleich. ("Are you not going home?" "Oh, yes, I am going in a moment".) (Affirmation of a negative question; obligatory.)

Komm doch her! ("Do come here!") (Emphatically)

Komm doch endlich her! ("Do come on! Get a move on!") (More emphatically and impatiently)

Ich habe dir doch gesagt, dass es nicht so ist. ("I did tell you that it's not like that.")

Ich kenne mich in Berlin aus. Ich war doch letztes Jahr schon dort. ("I know my way around Berlin. I was here last year, after all/as a matter of fact.")

[...]

In other contexts, doch indicates that the action described in the sentence was, in fact, unlikely to occur:

Du bist also doch gekommen! ("You came after all.")

Ich sehe nicht viel fern, aber wenn etwas Gutes kommt, schalte ich doch ein. ("I don't watch much TV, but I do tune in if something good comes on.")

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A: Wann kann ich mal zu Ihnen kommen?

B: Kommen Sie doch morgen um 10 Uhr.

If you omit the "doch" it sounds more like a command than a proposal. The "doch" makes the sentence friendlier.

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Is it meaningless? something like "ja" in "du bist ja Klug"? –  user508 Jun 4 '11 at 15:45
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@Gigili Yes, in a sense it is like "ja" since it is another example of a modal particle. These words are not meaningless, but their meaning are very subtle. –  Stovner Jun 4 '11 at 17:02
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"Doch" emphasizes a negation, but the word that is emphasized can be missing or the thing that is negated is just supposed in the listener which means that often it can be translated by "but":

Example:

"Mein Hund will doch nur spielen."

My dog just wants to play.

It implies that the speaker correctly or incorrectly perceives the listener to be afraid of the dog or at least not thinking that the dog only wants to play.

You example:

Kommen Sie doch morgen um 10 Uhr.

I feel that the word "doch" emphasizes a missing word "einfach":

Kommen Sie doch einfach morgen um 10 Uhr.

I would translate it with "just" in this context, too:

Just come at 10 o'clock tomorrow.

In this example, it also plays the role of softening the sentence:

Kommen Sie morgen um 10 Uhr.

would be more a command.

Edited to add one more example because of the comment:

Sie können doch morgen kommen.

You can just come tomorrow. (Perceived opposition to no possibility to come.)

Sie können morgen doch kommen.

You can come tomorrow, after all. (Implies that the speaker revises information.)

This is more complicated than I thought. I will think some more on this.

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wow, almost the same answer as mine 8 secs earlier! MUST be right! ;) +1 because it's longer –  splattne Jun 4 '11 at 15:18
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I don'T see how 'einfach' is helping to understand the sentence. It doesn't. You could add another word without any sence easily, if you prefere long sentences 'Kommen Sie doch einfach mal morgen um 10 Uhr'. I agree that 'doch' is softening here, as 'einfach' or 'mal', but they work independently from each other, and using more than one is bad style, imho. –  user unknown Jun 4 '11 at 15:34
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@user unknown: The "einfach" makes clear that the perceived opposition is to the fact that there are many possibilities to come. This marks the sentence as a choice instead of a command. "Einfach" is not a word without any sense. –  Phira Jun 4 '11 at 15:37
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It doesn't mean "after all" here? –  user508 Jun 4 '11 at 15:45
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Ich sage nicht, dass 'einfach' keine Bedeutung hätte, auch wenn es kaum eine hat - es bedeutet wohl sowas wie 'formlos, ohne große Einladung, ohne weiteren äußeren Anlaß', aber ich bestreite, dass das 'doch' ein unterschlagenes 'einfach' impliziert. "Kommen Sie doch zu unserem Maskenball auf die Burg im See - denken Sie daran, dass Sie ein Floß brauchen!" wäre nun alles andere als einfach. Mir scheint eher, dass das 'doch' dafür steht, sich einen Ruck zu geben, die eigene Trägheit zu überwinden, ihr zu trotzen - daher vielleicht 'doch'. –  user unknown Jun 4 '11 at 17:02
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The doch in your first question is something like:

A: This is not true
B: It is! (Doch)

but on your second question, it is a kind of a suggestion like:

A: When can i come to you?
B: Why don't you come at 10 o'clock? (Kommen sie doch um 10 Uhr)

It makes the question friendlier and adds a suggestion.

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I doubt if it means "Why don't you come at 10 o'clock?". –  user508 Jun 4 '11 at 18:32
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Doch doch, it means something like "Why don't you come at 10 o'clock?", as a friendly invitation or suggestion. Or, if you prefer, "Just come at 10 o'clock if you like." –  Lumi Jun 4 '11 at 18:47
    
The examples are from a formal conversation. should mean something formal, not friendly, I guess. –  user508 Jun 4 '11 at 19:10
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Hello, a :) goes to @lumi :) It really means that @gigili. –  Herr K Jun 4 '11 at 20:51
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I know "doch" is used to contradict a negative statement:

Just a comment: In Vienna (Wien) you may find people saying "Oja!" over and over again. This is meant to be the "doch" used in other parts of Austria, such as Carinthia (Kärnten). The "Oja", which originally are the two words "Oh" and "Ja" joined together, is exactly the "doch" of your first example above. Sometime used with an additional "Na" in front of it: "Na oja!"

A: Du warst heut' aber nicht beim Frisör.

B: Oja!

Maybe noteworthy for people travelling to Vienna...

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Thanks for useful information. –  user508 Jun 5 '11 at 11:51
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Is it something like "anyway, come tomorrow morning at 10"?

Rather not.

Is it necessary to use it there?

It is not necessary. However, it turns the command like

Kommen Sie morgen um 10 Uhr.

into a suggestion (that can be easier refused)

Kommen Sie doch morgen um 10 Uhr.

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You anticipate a possible No in Kommen sie doch um 10 Uhr and emphasize your suggestion for this case already. That you already consider possible difficulties shows your solicitousness and so it is more received as friendliness.

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