0

I am learning German these days and I have a lot of problem with Sie and ihr. In the following sentence, can you please tell me if it is correct.

Kannst du mir sagen, was ihr heute und gestern im Deutschunterricht gemacht habt?

  • 1
    Whether Sie or ihr is correct depends on what you want to say. – RHa Aug 17 '17 at 18:40
  • I want to write this to a class mate to ask her, what they did in the German course because I did not attend the course. – orange14 Aug 17 '17 at 18:44
  • 1
    You're looking for a translation of "you". Any dictionary will tell you that "you" is translated as "Sie" in the polite form. When addressing a class mate, there's no need for this and you go with "ihr". – Em1 Aug 17 '17 at 18:59
  • I fixed a few other mistakes in your sentence, because your question is about "ihr" vs "sie" and answers should not bother with other issues. – Em1 Aug 17 '17 at 19:00
2

The word "you" has three translations into German. As a simplified rule you might say:

If you call "John Doe" "John", you say "du". If you call him "Mr. Doe", you say "Sie".

The word "ihr" is used for multiple persons if you would call (each of) the listener(s) "du". (It does not matter if the other persons not listening meant by the word "you" would be called "Sie" or "du".) The word "Sie" may be a single person or multiple persons. You use it for multiple persons if you would call (each of) the listener(s) "Sie". (*)

Unfortunately there is no 100% sure rule telling you when to use "du" and when to use "Sie". There is the tendency in Germany to say "du" in many situations you would have said "Sie" few years ago. I've read that this is not the case in Austria.

However you should call an adult you don't know "Sie". Saying "du" may be an insultation!

A younger child is typically called "du". Among friends and inside the family you also use "du".

Kannst du mir sagen, was ihr heute und gestern im Deutschunterricht gemacht habt.

If you are talking to a family member or a child => perfect

(Most Germans would say "gestern und heute" and not "heute und gestern" but it is not wrong to use that order.)

If you are talking to another adult student in your German course => Depends on the situation and the country:

If the course is full of university students in Germany, you would use "du". In Austria maybe you use "Sie" - I don't know.

If the course is paid by your employer and the other students work for other companies you would definitely use "Sie":

Können Sie mir sagen, was Sie heute und gestern im Deutschunterricht gemacht haben.

... if you are talking to an adult you have never seen before, you also use the second variant.


(*) P.s.: When speaking to a group of persons while some would be called "du" and others would be called "Sie", some native speakers say "Sie" while others say someting like "Sie und ihr"...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.