Höflichkeit - how to "grease the wheels" of human discourse

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62
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13answers
4k views

How can a native English speaker know when it is appropriate to use the polite (Sie) or the familiar (Du)?

In a language such as English, where there are no "built-in" (so to say) polite and familiar forms, what are some simple tips or guidelines for when to use the polite or the familiar forms? Are there ...
39
votes
9answers
44k views

Why is “Fräulein” considered offensive, as opposed to “Frau”?

Does Fräulein imply that the woman being addressed is not fully a Frau? Does it imply a lower class status?
22
votes
10answers
5k views

How do Germans refer to people without caring about the gender

In German, a noun always has its own gender. However, there is a case I don't know. Suppose that there is a class with many students, both males and females, and then when I want to refer to all ...
20
votes
8answers
3k views

Would a computer use ‘du’ or ‘Sie’ for the user?

Would a computer use du or Sie for the user? Example: “You have unsaved changes.”
20
votes
3answers
407 views

Ich suche eine gute Anrede für Bedienungen

Ich suche eine gute Anrede für Bedienungen im Restaurant. Seit der Kriminalisierung von »Fräulein« denke ich oft über eine Alternative nach. Ich habe bereits etliche Bedienungen gefragt und oft fanden ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Can I switch to the du-form myself when I am addressed as “du”?

I am an undergraduate and will be staying with a host family in Mannheim for to learn German. I have never met the host family before and I see them as senior to me, so I used the Sie-form when I ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

How are we polite without using “bitte”?

When asking someone for a favour it is considered rude to omit "please" in English. This seems not to be the case in German. In a shop or a restaurant I can frequently hear: "Was bekommen Sie?" - "...
18
votes
7answers
1k views

Polite way of asking someone not to “duz”

I'm a native German speaker, but I still would like to know your opinion about this. What is the best and politest way to ask someone or tell someone to use "Sie" instead of "Du"? In some cases I ...
15
votes
1answer
335 views

Vermeiden von Anredeformen

Wenn ich mit Leuten zu tun habe, bei denen ich mir nicht sicher bin, ob ich sie duzen oder lieber siezen sollte, verfalle ich gerne (und oft automatisch) in einen Satzbau, der keine Anredeform ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

How to ask kindly in German not to bring any gifts?

How do you ask friends and family not to bring any gifts on an invitation card? It should be short and explicit, but friendly and with style. Phrases like Wir bitten von Geschenken abzusehen. ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

How to tell someone politely that they have a wrong number?

How can I tell someone politely that they have a wrong telephone number? I found this wording on HowDoYouSay: Sie sind falsch verbunden. Does it work? Are there any other ways of saying it?
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “das wäre aber nicht nötig gewesen” mean?

As a thank you for the people hosting a party I brought them a little present. They said: "Danke schön! Das wäre aber nicht nötig gewesen." Shouldn't I have given them anything? Did I do ...
13
votes
7answers
900 views

Which words or phrases should non-native speakers avoid to prevent unintentional offense?

When I studied German in the early 90s, we were taught that an unmarried woman is a Fräulein, but I recently learned that Fräulein is offensive. We aren't all ugly Americans, and I don't want to fall ...
12
votes
5answers
754 views

“Duzen” or “Siezen”, when addressing two or more people

When talking to a mother (whom you would siezen) and her child which one would you use? Waren Sie beide in der Stadt? or Wart Ihr beide in der Stadt? Or is it uncommon to address several ...
12
votes
3answers
239 views

Wie kann man dem Kellner sagen, wieviel Trinkgeld man ihm gibt?

In einem Restaurant ist es gewöhnlich, dem Kellner ein bisschen Trinkgeld zu geben. Mir ist aber unklar, wie ich höflich erklären kann, wieviel Trinkgeld ich gebe. Sagen wir, dass die Rechnung 19€ ...
11
votes
4answers
798 views

Do we use “Du” or “Sie” to address users in a German operation manual?

When writing or translating an operation manual for software (including game software) or hardware users are mostly addressed by the polite form "Sie". Increasingly however we can also find manuals ...
11
votes
1answer
152 views

Die geschlechter(un)gerechte »Gattin«?

In der Süddeutschen Zeitung vom 23. November steht in der Rubrik aktuelles Lexikon unter dem Titel Gender-Star: […] Die Ansätze zu einer geschlechtergerechten Sprache stammen aus den 70er-Jahren. ...
10
votes
5answers
623 views

Why is the title “Friseuse” considered as inappropriate?

I learned that I should not entitle a female hairdresser "Friseuse" as this may be considered as rude. Duden lists "Friseuse" as both, colloquial and antiquated, and recommends the usage of the ...
9
votes
7answers
868 views

Ist es unhöflich, Vornamen mit Artikel zu erwähnen?

Klingt es unhöflich die Vornamen, mit einem vorgestellten Artikeln zu sagen? z.B. Der Hans ist bei der Helga.
9
votes
4answers
405 views

“Ich möchte..” als Antwort auf “Willst du..”?

Jemand hat mich gerade gefragt: "Willst du 'nen Kaffee?". Ich habe ihm geantwortet: "Ja ich will". Eine Dritte hat mich korrigiert: "Du solltest nicht mit ich will antworten, sondern mit ich möchte". ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Höfliche Anrede mit zweiter Person Plural: »Ihr solltet zugeben, dass Ihr ganz einfach Angst habt.«

Die zweite Person Plural wird ab und zu verwendet, um Höflichkeit auszudrücken. Folgendes Beispiel stammt aus dem Buch "Die unendliche Geschichte" von Michael Ende: »Held Hynreck«, sagte Bastian ...
8
votes
3answers
626 views

Sie/du reciprocity?

If person A is addressing person B as 'Sie', is it always appropriate for person B to also address person 'A' as 'Sie'? For example, a student would address a professor as 'Sie'. Would the professor ...
7
votes
2answers
375 views

German Equivalent of “Time Sensitivity”

I am looking for the German term that is equivalent to the English term "Time sensitivity" or "time sensitive nature" in a professional, business setting. I have considered two options, but am ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

If my professor says “du”, can I use “du”, too?

Some professors and university personal always address their students with "du". Should I as a student reply with "du"? If not, how can I ask them if its okay?
6
votes
2answers
109 views

Wie biete ich Gästen Kaffee an?

Wie biete ich Gästen Kaffee an? Kann ich fragen: "Wollen Sie eine Tasse Kaffee?", oder was wäre die beste Frage, wenn ich höflich sein wollte?
6
votes
1answer
837 views

Wie werden Namen von Adligen in Briefadressen korrekt angegeben?

Wie sieht die korrekte Namensangabe von Adligen in Adressfeldern und Briefanreden aus, so wie sie Geschäftsleute, Behörden und Krankenhäuser verwenden? Edit: Ich meine eher die Namenszusätze wie in ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

How to say “Thank you for teaching me that word” in German?

Using the polite form, I expect it to be something like: Vielen Dank für lehren mich dieses Wort. but I can't find any example thereof. What I have seen is "Vater, lehre mich..." translated to "...
5
votes
5answers
864 views

How to ask your Boss politely to sign a document a little bit faster?

The paper is important. My current best version were: "Sehr geehrter Herrn ..., Dürfte ich die ... Dokument möglichst schnellsten bekommen?" But it seems a little bit rude for me. Practically, I ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Can the polite form ‘wie geht es Ihnen’ be shortened to ‘wie geht’s’?

I understand that Wie geht’s? is a shortened form of Wie geht es dir? where the es becomes contracted and the dir is omitted. However, this can only be used with close friends where du is ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it polite to say “Ich will”?

"I would like" being ich möchte. Is it less polite to say ich will (i.e I want)? Does it matter, is the politeness noticed or is it just because in English there is an overly polite way of saying ...
4
votes
4answers
8k views

What should one say when someone arrives from a quite long trip?

When you see a friend who is going to travel, you'd say: Gute Reise. What would you say to someone who has arrived from a quite long and exhausting trip?
4
votes
3answers
660 views

Unter welchen Umständen kann man die Schlussformel “mit herzlichen Grüßen” schreiben?

Zur Frage nach einer Gruß- und Schlussform eines Briefes an eine Lehrerin wird in Kommentaren die Ansicht vertreten, dass die Schlussformel "Mit herzlichen Grüßen" nicht angebracht sei. Nun lese ich ...
4
votes
2answers
113 views

Sequence of persons - where to place “Du”?

If I use a sequence of people, I should of course place myself at the very end, like John, Anna und ich gehen ins Kino.. Where should I place the Du however? Should it be at the very beginning or just ...
4
votes
3answers
173 views

Wie sagt man einem Arzt »I would really appreciate your time to help me with my issue«?

Ich schreibe einem Arzt und bin mir nicht sicher, wie ich das englische I would appreciate your time auf Deutsch ausdrücken könnte bzw. ob es überhaupt möglich oder üblich ist, so etwas zu ...
4
votes
1answer
416 views

“Willst du mich für dumm verkaufen?” Is saying this rude?

I just want to know how to show skepticism towards something that, in my opinion, is obviously false (or a joke). I think that with friends, I would say Na, du willst mich verarschen. ...
4
votes
2answers
211 views

Wie sagt man “i dont care” auf höfliche Art und Weise? [duplicate]

A: Welchen Wagen möchtest du morgen verwenden? Den roten oder den schwarzen? B: Egal, solange er funktioniert. Ich weiß nicht, ob egal in diesem Kontext passt.
3
votes
7answers
19k views

How should I ask politely for a moment of someone's time?

How should I politely ask for someone's time to interrupt them, like in English: Do you have a minute? May I bother you for a moment even though you're quite busy?
3
votes
2answers
524 views

What does “Lassen Sie sich” mean?

Last year I was in Germany in Ruhr area for education as an Erasmus (European student replacement program). I wanted to buy some vegetables there, for that I went into a small shop, after a short ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Connotation of “Du bist jederzeit willkommen in [Stadtname]”

A German friend said to me: Du bist jederzeit willkommen in [Stadtname]. I’m not sure if this is an invitation to stay at his place in that city, or does it just mean I’m welcome to hang out ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What’s the difference between “möchte”, “will”, “lieber”, “würde”?

Each of the expressions möchte, will, lieber, würde seems to mean I want / I wish / I’d like. For example: Was würden Sie gern essen? Can you help me to understand the difference between them?
2
votes
3answers
534 views

Is “Herr Hitler” valid German?

The phrase Herr Hitler is sometimes used in English. For example, Churchill used it in this speech, and according to Google NGrams, at the peak of World War II, one in six uses of the word Herr in the ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Herr Doktor Professor, or Herr Professor Doktor?

The phrase Herr Doktor Professor is relatively well-known amongst non-German speaking English-speakers. But assuming that all three words are used, what order is it in? Is it Herr/Frau Doktor ...
1
vote
3answers
224 views

“Meine Mutter ist Maria” – is it correct to introduce someone like that?

Meine Mutter ist Maria. Is it correct to introduce someone like that? Or is it wrong, and the only accepted form is the following? Meine Mutter heißt Maria.
1
vote
2answers
218 views

How should I address my in-laws in German?

How should I address my in-laws? I'm interested in the case when the person is about the same age (or younger), but it's someone you barely know. Should I use Sie or du?
1
vote
1answer
92 views

Super-höfliche Form der Kontaktanfragen auf Sozialen Netzwerken?

Momentan benütze ich den Satz: Dürfte ich Sie in meinem Netzwerk willkommen? Aber ich bin mir nicht hundertprozentig sicher, wie klingt es. Für mich klingt es sehr höflich, aber Deutsch ist ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Ist es unfreundlich “Du bist schlecht für Herz.” zu sagen?

Ich bin neu in Deutschland und ich habe eine Freundin. Sie hat sich schlecht gefühlt, als ich "Du bist so süß, schlecht für Herz :)" geschrieben habe, und wir haben uns entschieden eine Umfrage zu ...