I will have a B1 sprechen test in Goethe inistitue and I should handle a conversation with a partner. From perspective of examiner, one of the important points is, if the examnee can use properly the Du and Sie in correct situations.

I am going to ask my partner if I may reference him with du using the below sentence:

Darf ich duzen ?

But, I am wondering, if there is a better and simpler sentence than this one ?

  • 2
    I'd argue that by asking that, you demonstrate already that you cannot properly use "du" and "Sie". – O. R. Mapper May 2 at 17:00
  • Jmdn. duzen means addressing so. by 'du', so it is virtually always used with an object. Without object, one would say, e.g., Darf ich du sagen? or similiar. – amadeusamadeus May 2 at 17:53
  • 1
    Perhaps it's me, but I think that English speakers learning German tend to worry about du/Sie more than they should. Formal vs. informal speech is a feature of many languages, and the German system is relatively simple compared to some, and actually very similar to first name/last name address in English. I'm sure that using Sie instead of du isn't the worst mistake one is likely to make on such a test. – RDBury May 3 at 0:49

Your sentence is missing its object:

Darf ich Sie duzen?


Darf ich Dich duzen?

But mostly, we don't explicitly ask like this. How to address a person is often derived from indirect cues and the situation. For example, if your partner introduces themselves by their last name (say, "Miss Smith"), I'd go with "Sie" at least for the beginning. If your partner introduces themselves by their first name (say, "Susan"), I'd go with "Du". This is just an example, much of it is what you might call "reading the room". But as you both are language learners and by definition not too well versed in German customs, nobody will tear of your head off if you get it wrong and correct yourself later ;)

  • I agree that it's pretty clear when someone introduces themself by their last name, has a certain age and/or is a complete stranger. Otherwise (e.g. first name or no introduction at all, kind of familiar or youngish), i.e. in cases of doubt, there are also more natural to ask, e.g. Darf ich du sagen? – amadeusamadeus May 2 at 17:50

If persons don't know each other too well or have used the "Sie" for some time, it's an unwritten law that typically the older person offers the "du" to the younger one by saying something like

Ich bin "Vorname".

The younger answers similarly, followed by a handshake1) or a toast2).

The sentence quoted above

Darf ich Du sagen?

is typically used by older persons interacting with teenagers (teachers, doctors, etc.), where it's unclear whether they are of age already or whether the younger cares. It typically does not imply that the asked person is to say "Du" to the asker. The "Sie" is generally on the retreat, and it's very common that people of the same age or within a group or in a company just use "Du".

So, while

Darf ich Sie dutzen?

is correct, it's rarely openly asked. Either you offer the "Du" (by introducing yourself with the first name) or you somehow have the feeling that it's ok to do so.

1) unless COVID forbids so

2) if in a restaurant or a pub

  • Also "Nennen Sie mich Vorname" can be used instead of "Ich bin Vorname" – Allerleirauh May 3 at 12:12

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