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34

In person-to-person contact the polite "Sie" is the standard way of addressing someone (in written contact even more so). Unless they are the same age as you (or younger) and you are pretty young yourself (say, under 30) - when this is the case an the setting is relaxed (at a party, in a bar, etc) you could venture to use "du" right away. Switching to the ...


29

A major effort from feminist linguistics is achieving equality of men and women in spoken or written language. All terms that discriminate men and women should be avoided. Fräulein (the diminutive of Frau) was especially criticized as it did not only discriminate in sex but also has a strong sexist association by the meaning of Fräulein being an unmarried ...


22

Fräulein is a diminutive ('Verniedlichungsform') of Frau. Diminution is considered an intimate act, used a lot with nicknames couples give each other (Häschen, Mäuschen, Bienchen, Bärchen) or for "lovely little beings" like children and pets. So using Fräulein has a touch of intimacy not convenient to many women. Addressing an unkown woman as Fräulein can ...


20

It's a phrase to express gratitude. It is an indirect acknowledgment that you intended the gift as a gift, and not for satisfying a perceived necessity ("nötig" comes from "Not", English "need" or "poverty"). The confusion probably comes from the literal translation "That was not necessary / unnecessary", which, as I understand it, is a defensive remark to ...


17

One possibility would be to form complete sentences. This can convey to your conversation partner that this conversation is important enough for you to give up some more of your precious time in order to be polite/correct. In this example, I would say: "Ich hätte gerne drei Brötchen und einen Kaffee." Also, "bitte", "danke", "guten Tag" and "auf ...


16

The simple answer is: "Sie" is always appropriate unless you are addressing a child. However, there are a lot of situations where the "Du" is more common today; this includes most usages in forums, blogs or social networks, leading to the belief that it is accepted for general use. Some companies use it as a form of corporate identity. Ikea and Apple come ...


15

This is not actually a grammar question. The usage of the Du vs Sie is mostly a question of social context and social standing and can differ a lot between situations. There are no strict rules connected with the choice of Du vs Sie. Following a few general guidelines: the younger you are, the more likely you use Du for persons within a similar age group ...


14

'Fräulein' was mainly used for unmarried women, and therefore for very young women when in doubt. Not being married was often considered a failure, and even a female professor, 50 years old, could have been called 'Fräulein'. "This is Fräulein Meier" is nearly equivalent of telling somebody "This is Mr. Müller. He isn't married yet." Independent from his ...


13

Several possibilities there: You can ask the child in a cutesy tone (Duzen), if it's a rather young child. The mother will probably smile from ear to ear and wait for the kid to answer, or eventually answer the question for her kid (or call the police for harassment ;) If the kid is your friend (similar age, same school, etc. etc.), you can just quickly ...


13

There is http://htwkbk.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/du-oder-sie-a-simple-visual-guide.pdf (via http://htwkbk.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/when-to-use-du-and-sie/) which actually is somewhat accurate despite the fact that it probably was written tongue in cheek.


13

First: German does not have those lean construction like for + verb-ing or Verb-ing, I verbed something else. You have to make normal subordinate phrases for most of those. The options here would be: Ich danke Ihnen dafür, dass Sie mich dieses Wort gelehrt haben. I thank you for that, that you taught me this word. (lit.) Unless the word can cure ...


12

In my experience the "asymetric Du" (as I call it) is somewhat of an old concept and is going out of style lately. Normally the Du/Sie between adults is symmetric, so if your professor says "Du", then so can you. But traditionally in a hierarchical settings the "higher" person sometimes had the benefit of saying "Du", while the "lower" person was still ...


12

Polite expressions are often complicated: Drei Brötchen und einen Kaffee, wenn's keine Umstände macht. Drei Brötchen und einen Kaffee, wenn Sie so freundlich wären. Könnten Sie mir drei Brötchen und einen Kaffee bringen? But you could always append a 'bitte'. In a modern conversation, it is polite not to disturb your conversational partner ...


11

Yes, it absolutely is offensive. It is also not used at all anymore (except in some situations with small children). It does not denote class status, it marks the difference between married or unmarried. (It may have denoted class status historically in the sense that a young woman of low class would have gotten no honorific at all, but be called by her ...


10

No, it's not automatically appropriate to respond with "du" to someone addressing you informally. If there's a difference in the level of age/esteem/reputation, you should not assume that it is Ok to address the other person informally. Child-adult or student-professor relationships are classical examples of such a difference. Note that the rules governing ...


10

Wird einem einladend etwas zu trinken, zu essen oder zur Benutzung angeboten (auch wenn es durch ein schluffiges »willst 'n / magst 'n Kaffe?« ausgedrückt wird) ist »ja, gerne« / »nein, danke« die ebenso freundliche Standardantwort, »ja, bitte« geht auch. In dieser Situation wäre »ja, will/möchte ich« eine eher untypische Verstärkung, die eine gewisse ...


9

In Geschäften handelt es sich tatsächlich nur um den Plural. Man könnte dort auch "Haben Sie die Hose in einer anderen Größe?" sagen. Die höfliche Anrede mit der zweiten Person ist veraltet und klingt so, als würde man mit einem König oder einem Kaiser sprechen. Man findet sie häufig in Fantasy-Romanen oder Geschichten die z.B. im Mittelalter spielen, wenn ...


8

In addition to what has been said there are situations where the informal Du still is generally inappropriate, e.g.: in a traditional (non-fashion) shop like a bakery, in a supermarket etc. in official institutions such as police stations, government departments etc. in a bank on the phone unless you know the person you talk to in hotel receptions when ...


8

If both speakers are adults, this is supposed to be symmetric, so you can wait for the others. Unfortunately, native speakers have more practice to avoid the issue with complicated avoidance maneuvers in awkward social situations, so you might just want to ask and use your foreigner status as good excuse for asking. The younger the people, the more they use ...


8

Also, du kannst antworten mit Ja ich will (1) oder mit Ja möchte ich (2) oder natuerlich mit nur "Ja bitte". (2) ist höflicher als (1), deswegen sollte man (2) nehmen. Ich sage jedoch immer "Ja" oder "Ja bitte". "Willst du", kannst du fast immer mit "Ja bitte" oder "Nein danke" beantworten.


7

As a rule of thumb in every day life, you can decide the correct form on how you would call a person in English: if you call someone by their first name or an informal phrase like 'you guys', you can use 'Du' in German. if you would approach someone by using 'Sir', 'Miss', or 'Mr. X' or 'Mrs. Y', you should use 'Sie' in German.


7

From the German Wikipedia: Das Wort leitet sich aus dem Französischen ab, wo das Verb friser soviel wie „kräusen“ bedeutet. Der Begriff Friseur war im Französischen nie sehr gebräuchlich und ist mittlerweile völlig ausgestorben. Ursprünglich lautete die „offizielle“ weibliche Form der Berufsbezeichnung lange Zeit Friseuse nach der französischen ...


7

When I want to interrupt someone in front of me I would say: Verzeihung, Haben Sie bitte mal einen Moment Zeit? or Entschuldigung, darf ich Sie mal stören? The leading word (not important which one you choose) gets attention to the question itself. To make the question polite, it's important to give it a polite pronounciation. I would not tell ...


6

"Sie" is mostly used in a formal context, if you are writing a manual addressing older or business readers you would use that. "Du" could be used to address younger readers or gamers. It's possible as well to avoid using either "Du" or "Sie" by indirectly talking to the user or using "man". eg "Du kannst das auf diese Art machen" and "Sie können das auf ...


6

Maybe this is related to Masseuse meaning something quite different than Masseurin nowadays: The latter is a female Masseur, whereas from a Masseuse one will probably expect some sexual pleasure. For this reason, a Masseurin will be legitimately offended if you call her Masseuse. My guess is that this is how Friseuse got a negative connotation.


6

For conversation (it's almost the same for letters and Emails): Using "Sie" is appropriate if you have a formal relationship to the other person, if the other person is older, in a higher position (e.g. your boss). It means you respect the other person. If a person tells you only the last name you should use "Sie". (I am a native german speaker and it's ...


6

The same tendency of avoiding to categorize by marital status is observed in English and French. In French, the term mademoiselle is mostly used for addressing young children, rarely adults, though I still hear people of the baby-boomer generation use it for younger women. They just want to be polite, the meaning of not being married has somewhat ...


6

Easiest answer is: use a friendly tone and add a smile. Undertones are quite important in Germany, as user unknown has already pointed out. :) Also, this varies from region to region. A friend from Brandenburg found it strange in Saxony that we wouldn't say "Gib mir mal bitte die Butter", but "Gib mir mal die Butter". After all, it is never "wrong" to be ...


6

In the context of your example, when you learn something with the help of someone you would use "beibringen" in modern German: Vielen Dank für das Wort, das Sie mir beigebracht haben. (...das Du mir beigebracht hast) less formal "Lehren" in this context would sound stilted and old-fashioned. As "lehren" would be an appropriate translation for "to ...


5

Good question. Basically, it depends completely on your conversational partner. But others already gave good answers to that. I would just want to amend one option: In case of doubt, simply avoid it. Examples: "Wollen Sie etwas essen?" > "Wollen wir etwas essen?" "Entschuldigen Sie, können Sie mir sagen, wie ich zum Bahnhof komme?" > "Entschuldigung, wo ...



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