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When passing crowded areas populated with English speakers, one would usually say "Coming through!" to clear the path; it's not as offensive as "Move away, give me some room", but still is rather effective.

What would be the German alternative in such situation? I've seen Germans usually just saying "Vorsicht"; but are there any better options to politely ask random people in the crowd to give way?

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    A polite citizen would say 'Entschuldigung, darf ich bitte durch?' as IQV already wrote below. 'Coming through' sounds very harsh to me so I thought you are talking about a phrase while an emergancy or a security person would say. Such persons often use the phrase 'Aus dem Weg!' , 'Platz da!', 'Beiseite bitte', 'Machen Sie bitte Platz' to pass through a crowd. – mexwell Sep 20 '17 at 12:27
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    Es gibt 3 Möglichkeiten: "Mutter mit Kind!" brüllen, oder "Heiß und fettig!" oder "Lasst mich durch, ich bin Arzt!". :) – user unknown Sep 20 '17 at 16:13
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    When riding a bicyle (but lacking a bell) I sometimes simply shout: "Bim bim!". - People understand. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 20 '17 at 17:41
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    To my (British English) ear, "Coming through!" is still pretty offensive. I would just use "Excuse me!" repeatedly (and it's the same number of sylables). --> "Entschuldigung!" – Martin Bonner Sep 21 '17 at 15:11
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    @userunknown and being with your Girlfriend: "Heiß und fettig, heiß und fettig! Sie ist heiß und ich bin fettig!" – Sip Sep 22 '17 at 10:58

10 Answers 10

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Most people just say

Entschuldigung

which just means "excuse me" or "sorry". Sometimes you hear just the colloquial shortened version

Tschuldign

which sometimes gets condensed to even more unintelligible versions (like »schuign«) (without changing its meaning). I guess that this shortened versions are different from region to region. My examples are form Austria. Maybe you will hear different versions in Germany, especially in the north.

Also in use is

Darf ich mal?

which is "may I", and you often find it combined with »Entschuldigung«:

Entschuldigung, darf ich mal?

and even longer:

Entschuldigung, darf ich mal durch?

(Excuse my, may I pass through?)

If waiters in a crowed area are carrying beverages or food, you also can hear

Vorsicht

which means "attention". But normally you say »Vorsicht« only when you carry something that might hurt other people or could make them dirty if they touch it. You normally don't say it when you just try to pass trough a crowd.

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    To this excellent answer I'd like to add "enschuljensema" (Berlin) and "nschuljung" (Hamburg), the final "g" pronounced without glottal stop. – henning Sep 20 '17 at 13:16
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    Ich würde noch Verzeihung! zur Liste hinzufügen. :-) – Björn Friedrich Sep 20 '17 at 13:47
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    *Schullijung!" where I live (in the north). And "Obacht!" where I used to live (in the south). – Christian Geiselmann Sep 20 '17 at 14:01
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    Correct or not correct is not the question here. It is English, yes, but it is very commonly in use by younger people in Germany (in informal contexts). – Christian Geiselmann Sep 20 '17 at 14:06
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    @ChristianGeiselmann: Dachte erst "Hä? Schuljunge?" Als Kulturmensch benutze ich immer "Pardon!" bzw. als gescheiterter Kulturmensch "Pardong!". – user unknown Sep 20 '17 at 16:15
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An often used (colloquial) phrase in such situations is

Entschuldigung! Darf ich bitte einmal durch?

(Beg your pardon! May I pass, please?)
With the "bitte" and the "Entschuldigung" it is a polite question and request.

A shorter version of this phrase would be

Darf ich bitte 'mal?

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    +1 for politeness, but "Vorsicht!" or "Obacht!" will make people think you have some spillable good with you and make them clear the path even faster. Caveat: ou may be asked for drinks later as they conceive you are the waiter. – Janka Sep 20 '17 at 12:09
  • Adding to what @Janka stated: "Obacht!" is mostly used in southern germany (primarily Bavaria), but widely understood. – Jirajha Sep 20 '17 at 16:10
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There's no reason why you shouldn't be polite and say "Verzeihung!" or "Entschuldigung" - just as you would say "Excuse me" in English. People should know you want them to give way without you explicitly stating that.

You have tagged the question as [colloquial], so I would assume that

Vorsicht! Heiß und fettig!

which is sometimes used by people trying to be funny would be acceptable.

Some apparently (very [sic]) funny people I have encountered in the past tried to make way by

Lassen Sie mich durch, ich bin Arzt.

This might or might not work, but I consider that not funny.

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    More like [sick], amirite – hiergiltdiestfu Sep 20 '17 at 12:38
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    Wenn man Bahn-frei-Sprüche sammelt, die versuchen, lustig zu sein: "Platz dem König!" wäre noch so eine Wendung. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 20 '17 at 14:50
  • I consider it funny though. and if you use (even bad) humour, people will more likely make way, since you gained more attention and dont seem to be rude – Sip Sep 22 '17 at 11:02
  • Lassen Sie mich durch, ich bin Arzt - is this not a stock quote from 'Die Schwarzwaldklinik'? If I remember correctly there was a debate in the media around 1990 where it was claimed that the profession of Doctor had replaced the military officer in his function to evoke 'blinden Gehorsam' in the time since WWII. So in a way this phrase makes great (self-)deprecating humour. Finding the right situation where you could be sure to be understood this way seems to pose a challenge. – Flint Sep 28 '17 at 8:15
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Platz, bitte[, ich habs eilig]!

is an acceptable option as good as

Platz, bitte, Platz!

One time, years ago, I also heard this fun shout:

Achtung, Ölfarbe!

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    Similarly: "Vorsicht, heiß und fettig!" – Uwe Sep 20 '17 at 13:03
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One expression not mentioned so far is

Bahn frei!

which you will use primarily when riding a bicycle or sledge and want to get your way free of people standing there. However, you can also use it e.g. on the escalators to the underground. Would be considered a little bit rough, though; but definitely effective.

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    Or similarly "Aus dem Weg!" – Sty Sep 20 '17 at 17:12
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+100

Usually, som equivalent of "may i pass" is commonly used

Darf ich bitte mal durch ? often shortened Darf ich bitte

Darf ich

Literaly: Please make some room

Bitte Platz machen or Zur Seite bitte.

Ir simply announcing that you have to gg through that certain area, especially if the very shortened "darf ich" is not understood (or ignored)

Ich muss da durch

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    +1 for Zur Seite bitte - that is exactly what officials would say when demanding pass-through. – Takkat Sep 21 '17 at 16:21
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In my experience "Achtung!" works better than "Vorsicht!" because it makes people move away instead of freezing right where they are (to avoid falling into a manhole or whatever).

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Aus dem Weg, meine Schwiegermutter verfolgt mich!

("Out of the way, my mother-in-law is chasing me!")

Should do the job quite well

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    Well, there is of course an endless array of more or less funny sentences that can do the job. "Achtung, bissige Hamster" would not be worse. (Attention, viciuos hamsters!) But I have never heard the one nor the other. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 21 '17 at 15:17
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Well, with you mentioning peopled crowded at a park, I'm spontaneously thinking of outdoor events. In that case a polite "Entschuldigung, darf ich mal (durch)" may not be working because people might thinking you just want to pass to the front to have a better view - and why should you get a better view if they themselves do not? ;) So in a case like that I'd also rule out any "funny" sentences like "Heiß und fettig" or, if you are not an official in any way, commands like "Weg frei", "Platz da", "Zur Seite bitte" as I'd think they would only hinder your way. A more successful approach could be to explain why you want to get right of way - like "my family/husband/whatever is over there": "Meine Familie/mein Ehepartner/sonstwer ist da drüben" or "just passing": "Ich möchte nur durch" when not heading to the front.

I'd absolutely refrain from saying "Lassen Sie mich durch, ich bin Arzt" (I'm a doctor)! This may be funny in small gatherings where everybody sees through your spiel, but in crowds it may lead to anything from curious followers (where's the blood?), starting a panic (something bad happened, let me get away!) up to a case in court, when there really is an emergency where a doctor is needed and an official gets a hint of you pretending to be an emergency worker...

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Ich möchte gern vorbei.

Maybe? Sounds polite to me.

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