Wie schreibt man Ihren Namen?

I understand the grammar of the above sentence except the word man. What is the meaning of man? Can we omit it, so it would be the following?

Wie schreibt Ihren Namen?

  • 2
    A look into a dictionary would explain you the meaning of "man". A look into a grammar would not be wrong. – rogermue Nov 3 '14 at 16:05
  • man in Wie schreibt man Ihren Namen? is like you in How do you write your name? – Phantômaxx Aug 29 '19 at 21:09
  • @Fantômas: a closer resemblance would be How does one write your name? and like in that English version, the subject man/one cannot be just omitted (How does write your name?) – cbeleites unhappy with SX Aug 30 '19 at 19:49
  • @cbeleites Well, it's quite the same... You can't omit you in How do you write your name? – Phantômaxx Aug 30 '19 at 21:40


The German man is an indefinite pronoun replacing a not further specified person or group of persons in a sentence. It only exists in nominative singular and replaces the (essential) subject of your example sentence:

Wie schreiben die Leute Ihren Namen? - Wie schreibt man Ihren Namen?

Personal pronouns have a similar function but they are inflected:

Wie schreibst du deinen Namen? Wie schreiben Sie Ihren Namen? Wie schreibe ich Ihren Namen?

  • 1
    If you convert to passive voice, "man" disappears into thin air: "Wie wird Ihr Name geschrieben?" – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 2 '14 at 21:11
  • Another way to avoid "man" is to use the reflexive pronoun: "Wie schreibt sich ihr Name?" – RHa Aug 29 '19 at 8:28
  • @RHa or "Wie wird Ihr Name geschrieben?" – xebeche Aug 29 '19 at 11:14

The word "man" is the subject of the sentence. "Man" is the one who writes, and besides the verb itself this is actually the one thing you cannot omit in that sentence. The closest English equivalent to "man" is "one", more idiomatic options are "you" and "people", depending on context.


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