In English one often says things like

What was that movie you were telling me about again?


Could you tell me your name again?

The word "again" is a polite courtesy to tell the listener that you're aware that they've already answered your question, but that you've forgotten the answer.

Is there a general format for these kinds of questions in German?

  • While "nochmal" sounds good, I would probably say "Wie war Ihr Name auch wieder?" – Rudy Velthuis May 29 '18 at 17:33
  • @RudyVelthuis I’ve lived both in Northern and Southern Germany, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard “auch wieder” being used in that context. – Philipp May 30 '18 at 13:55
  • @Philipp: But I have, and not just once. – Rudy Velthuis May 30 '18 at 15:34
  • @RudyVelthuis I didn't want to sound condescending. I'm just surprised about this sentence, and Google doesn't yield any hits for it except this thread: google.de/… – Philipp May 31 '18 at 7:43
  • But if you try the other expressions, you get plenty of results: google.de/… – Philipp May 31 '18 at 7:46

The informal (albeit not unpolite) way to ask is, for instance:

Entschuldigung, wie heißt du nochmal?

when you don't remember somebody's name. So nochmal is the word you look for. I'd said it is (up to the subjunctive) the closest translation. (With the subjunctive, it is addressed in Walter's answer)

The format is thus:

original body of the question + nochmal ?

Moreover, apparently there is the (not everywhere heard) doch (gleich), instead of nochmal.

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  • 6
    And it is always possible to prepend "Entschuldige" (or "Entschuldigen Sie") to make it more polite without complicating the grammar. – Carsten S May 29 '18 at 10:54
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    Instead of „nochmal“ it is also common to use „noch gleich“. – GrafWampula May 30 '18 at 9:55
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    More common than „noch gleich“ is actually „doch gleich“. (books.google.com/ngrams/… and Duden agree with me here) – idmean May 30 '18 at 10:04
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    I am German and I don't remember hearing "doch gleich" ever, but "noch gleich" happened occasionally. Maybe the former is an old version. "noch mal" however is the most common one in my experience and I use it, too. I also use "schon wieder". – Alex May 30 '18 at 11:36
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    @idmean „noch gleich“ is definitely more common around Braunschweig and Hannover. – tavkomann May 30 '18 at 12:36

In my opinion, the most polite option is to tell the reason why the other person should say something again:

Entschuldigung, wie hieß der Film, von dem Du/Sie mir erzählt hast/haben, nochmal? Ich habe den Namen vergessen.

Es tut mir leid, wie war Dein/Ihr Name? Ich habe ihn leider vergessen / Er fällt mir gerade nicht mehr ein.

Das ist mir jetzt etwas unangenehm, aber ich habe Deinen/Ihren Namen vergessen. Wie hießt/hießen Du/Sie nochmal?

Es tut mir wirklich leid, aber ich habe Deinen/Ihren Namen vergessen. Kannst/Können Du/Sie ihn mir noch einmal sagen?

Entschuldigung, im Moment geht es mir wie dem Schriftsteller Curt Goetz. Dieser sagte einst : ‚Drei Dinge kann ich mir nicht merken: Das erste sind Namen, das zweite Zahlen, und das dritte habe ich vergessen.‘ Darf ich Dich/Sie noch einmal nach Deinem/Ihrem Namen fragen?

In a more casual environment this is also very common:

Entschuldigung, wie hieß noch gleich der Film, den du meintest?

Du sorry, wie war dein Name noch? Ich hab's nicht so mit Namen.

Namen sind echt nicht meins. Wie hießt du nochmal?

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There are various forms:

Wären Sie so freundlich, mir Ihren Namen nochmals zu sagen?

This is a polite way to ask again. In general, you could add a statement that you did not understood the name (if mentioned first time).

Könnten Sie den Namen des Filmes nochmal wiederholen?

This is a more informal way to ask for.

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    "mit Ihren Namen"? I think you meant mir. – Fabio says Reinstate Monica May 29 '18 at 12:47
  • "nochmal wiederholen" is the equivalent of "repeat again", i.e. you want to hear it for a third time. – Anthon May 30 '18 at 7:57

There's also a polite way to ask again without »nochmal[s]«:

Und dieser Film, sagten Sie, heißt bitte wie?

Und dieser Film heißt bitte wie, sagten Sie?

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    I only encountered this kind of formulation in literature or older movies. But this may differ in other age groups and/or locations. – Rhayene May 29 '18 at 13:41
  • @Rhayene: Think also of phone calls. – Pollitzer May 29 '18 at 14:24
  • Wow, that sounds super formal. I don't remember the last time I heard the simple past of "sagen". Makes it sound noble and theatrical. – Alex May 30 '18 at 11:41
  • @Alex This is because one usually tends to use the „Perfekt“ in spoken German although the „Präteritum“ would be correct in written German. – tavkomann May 30 '18 at 12:40
  • Yes, I know that. :-) – Alex May 30 '18 at 12:54

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