Why does "man muss das nicht" mean "you do not have to"?

I thought man was a reference to multiple people, something like alle.


"Man" can also be translated "one"

So the translation would be:

"One, does not have to"

I would even go so far as to say that the translation with "you" is incorrect.

  • It wasn't really my translation it's the one google translate gave me, thanks anyway :)
    – ds5137
    Oct 15 '17 at 18:17
  • 2
    The translation with you is perfectly acceptable
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 15 '17 at 21:41
  • edited it just now - thx
    – ortusolis
    Oct 16 '17 at 0:06

Man is never a reference to multiple people. It corresponds to the English one

Man muss das nicht is best translated as either

One does not have to do that

in elaborated speech, or

You don't have to do that

in colloquial English. That's a generic you and doesn't refer to the person being adressed

The translation one must not would be incorrect here. That would correspond to the German man darf nicht


English does not have a direct equivalent of German man. One possible word to express the same thing is one. Another, less formal, one is an impersonal you. This does not refer to the person who is being addressed.

  • 1
    Could you elaborate on why man and one aren't functionally equivalent? What makes them different?
    – xish
    Oct 16 '17 at 3:22

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