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Consider the situation where I want to approach a stranger to ask for directions, or to locate the restroom, etc. In English this is simply Excuse me to get the other person's attention. In German, I have always been taught Entschuldigung or more formally Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte. I've only ever seen the dative version, but this related question uses the accusative Entschuldigen Sie mich.

Which version of Excuse me is most appropriate or common for getting a stranger's attention? Are both the accusative and dative forms correct?

15

The most common to an adult are

  • Entschuldigung[, können Sie mir sagen, wie ich von hier aus zum Bahnhof komme?]
  • Entschuldigen Sie[, können Sie mir sagen, wie ich von hier aus zum Bahnhof komme?]

Upper style:

  • Verzeihung[, können Sie mir sagen, wie ich von hier aus zum Bahnhof komme?]

  • Verzeihen Sie[, können Sie mir sagen, wie ich von hier aus zum Bahnhof komme?]

and to a child:

Hallo[, kannst du mir sagen, wie ich von hier aus zum Bahnhof komme?]

»Entschuldigen Sie mir« is ungrammatical (as a call to get attention), »Entschuldigen Sie mich« isn't used at all in this context.

6

Both versions are wrong or at least unusual in your context.

Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte would be the correct case in that special context as you could continue the sentence like , dass ich Sie störe and then you need dative.

But normally when addressing somebody you would completely omit the pronoun:

Entschuldigen Sie bitte is the normal way to say this.

The other case Entschuldigen Sie mich bitte is also quite common in Germany, but it means something different:

If you are in a meeting or talking to someone and you need to go away (either for a short time as going to the toilet or leaving completely) then you use that phrase to say that you are sorry to interrupt the meeting / talk. This often is also used if you just interrupt because you need to pick up the phone as someone "very important" calls you.

Short answer:

Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte - incorrect or at least unusual

Entschuldigen Sie bitte - you ask someone for attention

Entschuldigen Sie mich bitte - you say sorry for taking your attention away from that person (go away, pick up a phone, etc.)

  • 1
    "Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte" is so uncommon, I would not even mention it here for being afraid that someone would ever use it by mistake. Especially not as the first occurrence. – problemofficer Aug 10 '17 at 17:39
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    It was mentioned in the question, so I think the anwer should say something about it. – RHa Aug 10 '17 at 20:31
  • "Entschuldigen sie mir bitte die Stoerung" is not at all uncommon where I'm from. – Burgi Aug 11 '17 at 9:20

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