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 find it disturbing that some people (especially in Apple stores) strictly use the "Du" form instead of "Sie".

  • 5
    Welcome to apple family, eine schrecklich nette Familie!
    – Hauser
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 17:52
  • @Hauser: A "magical" family, if you look at any ad from them (where they also say "Du", by the way) ;) Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 8:11
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    @OregonGhost: it's the same at ikea. I think the idea is to imply the customer can trust them because, hey, they are already "perdu"... Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 9:07
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    @Oregon "Wenn du keine Manieren hast, dann hast du keine Manieren!" ;)
    – Hauser
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 10:48
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    @Hauser: "There's a question for that!" :D Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 16:49

7 Answers 7


Just ignore the "Du" and reply using "Sie".

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    +1, only solution. Many of them will get it when it annoys them. Note that in certain settings (e.g. the mentioned Apple stores), the poor souls are trained to use "Du" - don't be too harsh to them :) Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 13:29
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    but exactly at this point, when the other person says something like "kannst much ruhisch dutzen", EXACTLY at this point, how do i tell it then :)
    – Herr
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 22:14
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    Herr Kaleun, man kann auch sagen: Ich verstehe, aber wissen Sie, ich bin ein bißchen altmodisch, und möchte mir selbst aussuchen, wen ich duze, nehmen Sie es mir nicht krumm, gell?
    – Ingo
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 8:40
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    @Herr Kaleun: On "kannst much ruhisch dutzen", I would answer something like "Im geschäftlichen Umfeld bevorzuge ich das Siezen" if I'm in a store. That way, you make clear that you don't object to du-ing him but to du-ing in a business setting in general.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 13:04
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    @Herr: You reply: "Und du kannst mich ruhig Siezen." Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 20:36

IMO there is no really polite way to (directly) say this, because there will always be a undertone of "I don't like you that much" whether it is true or not. Addressing a salesperson using "Sie" yourself is worth a try.

  • for salespersons the undertone might more be "I don't know you that much (yet)" Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 9:05

My father was replying to someone who was saying "du" to him: "Have we been in the same grade?" with his Berlin-accent. It worked and was polite, because of the context.

In other words, I think it depends on the context and there might be situations where there is no polite solution.


IMO, the problem mainly arises in a professional environment when you work with somebody for several days, weeks, or ...

In the Apple store it's a bit pointless, as it is a singular event and there is not really a hierachic relation. I would say something like

Ich präferiere im Beruf das Siezen...Im Beruf bin ich generell mit niemanden per Du...

That's not offensive to me.

  • I think you should say that at the beginning then. It's kind of impolite when they already said "Du" to you. Better to make that clear upfront (for example, when I started at my company, one of the bosses told me that we're all "per Du", and if I had any objections - but of course, any customer is addressed as "Sie", unless they personally offered you the "Du"). Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 8:13
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    instead of "präferiere" I'd use "bevorzuge", that sounds less aristocratic :p Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 8:58

I understand that politeness is required, nevertheless, the appropriate politeness in this case may be: "Ham wir schon Schweine zusamm' gehütet, oder was?" especially if the Duzer is very penetrant / follows a company policy / is from Berlin, etc.


Als erwachsener Mensch von Menschen, die man nicht kennt, ungefragt geduzt zu werden, empfinde ich persönlich als Akt der Unhöflichkeit. Daher sehe ich auch keine besonders große Notwendigkeit, meinerseits übertriebene Höflichkeit bei der Formulierung der Unterlassungsbitte an den Tag zu legen. Der unhöfliche Duzer darf (und soll) gerne mitbekommen, dass seine Ansprache unerwünscht ist.

Für gewöhnlich ziehe ich in solchen Fällen meine Augenbrauen zusammen und frage mit strenger Stimme:

Sind wir per Du?

In vielen Fällen reicht dass, um wieder gesiezt zu werden.

Allerdings habe ich aus genau diesem Grund schon mal in einer Ikea-Filiale einen bereits halb gefüllten Einkaufswagen und einen Verkäufer, der einfach fortfuhr mich zu duzen, grußlos stehen gelassen.

  • +1 Für die Einkaufswagenkonsequenz ;)
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 18:20

"Bewahren Sie bitte die Etiquette!"

With a nice (was heißt 'verbindlich?') smile: "Ich erinnere mich gar nicht Ihnen das Du angeboten zu haben".

Depends much on the tone, whether it comes along polite. If you lower your volume, so that others around you don't hear it, it is really polite, since it doesn't disclose the dumbness of the other persons. On the other hand, lowering your volume but not enough gives the impression that you tried, and makes the other look very stupid (which I enjoy the most). Then, looking around with surprise, and correcting yourself, offering the 'DU': "Wenn Sie wünschen können wir natürlich gerne zum Du wechseln!" lets you look diplomatic, while you aren't.

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    "Ich erinnere mich gar nicht Ihnen das Du angeboten zu haben." implies that the speaker is the only one who can offer it, so it's still not very polite. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 6:46
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    @JoachimSauer: depends on the social/professional hierarchy, in this case the customer is the one to offer the "Du" (unless the salesperson is much older, where the usual dilemma occurs...) Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 9:03
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    @Joachim: Yes, it implies. In an apple store, it would be the customer to offer the Du, not the Shop. Der Kunde ist König. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 11:16
  • @JoachimSauer: Ich bin in der Tat der Meinung, dass nur ich selbst anbieten kann, mich zu duzen. Ein anderer kann allenfalls vorschlagen, dass wir uns gegenseitig duzen. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 22:00

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