I was going through the dictionary and the following example caught my attention:

„Welches sollen wir nehmen?‟ – „Wähl du!

I think it should mean "You choose!". I have a feeling that saying wähl du! is kind of like saying "It's up to you!" or "I'll leave it to you to choose". Am I right?

And if I were to translate directly from English, I would automatically say Du wählst!. And in English, it's not really clear wheather "choose" is in the imperative or second person indicative. But in German, these forms are obviously different.

So do wähl du! and du wählst! have the same connotation in German?

Can I do it with other verbs when I want to say that it's you who's going to do it?

For example, can I say,

Mach du das!

to mean I'm not doing it. You do it!

  • Similar expressions would be "Du hast die Wahl", "Entscheide du (das)" or "Deine Entscheidung", but "Du wählst!" is not really common.
    – Matthias
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


Basically, you got it. You can say Wähl du! as well as Du wählst aus! to leave it to someone's discretion what you take.

Nevertheless, there's a significant difference between Wähl! and Wähl du!. The first one will likely be said by someone who is in charge. You can see this more clearly in your second example, i.e. Mach!

Boss: Lösch die Dateien!
You: Aber das darf ich nicht.
Boss: Mach! Das ist ein Befehl.

By adding du (or ihr) in informal situations, this is not an order at all. You imply that you don't want to or can't perform the action. Off the top of my head I can see three different situations. I try to make them clear with examples:

A: Soll ich das machen oder willst du?
B: Mach du (das). Mir ist das egal. Mir ist es nicht wichtig, dass ich es mache.

A: Darf ich das machen oder ist das verboten?
B: Mach du (nur). Es ist nicht verboten oder zumindest ist es mir egal.

A: Willst du das nicht machen?
B: Mach du das (bitte). Ich kann das nicht. Ich will das nicht. Ich trau mich nicht.

In any case, it does not necessarily say that you're not going to do it for sure. There's still some possibility that, eventually, you will do it yourself.

  • Hm. In your second example, I'd expect "Mach nur", but not "Mach du (nur)". Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 18:50
  • @HagenvonEitzen Jetzt, wo du es sagst. Das nur muss auf jeden Fall rein. Die Frage ist nur, streiche ich das Beispiel komplett oder entferne ich nur die Klammern?
    – Em1
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 19:05

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