Confusion between Du or Sie

Confusion between Du or Sie :
Confusion between Du or Sie

Du versus Sie : Pretty much in every other situations, you use Sie.*Sie* is especially used with adult strangers, and generally among white-collar colleagues (office, bank, etc vs a blue-collar job) or other professional environment.

For those learning German, choosing between the informal “du” and the formal “Sie” to address someone can be tricky. But even for native German speakers, it’s getting harder to decide.

Even if you are new to the German language or still struggling with the endless grammatical rules, you are probably aware of the precarious business of when to use du or Sie – the informal and formal forms of “you”, when addressing someone in German.

The rules are baffling at the best of times, but as general guide, if you find yourself talking to someone in a position of authority, or co-workers, you should use the Sie form (verb: siezen).”

However, if the person is a friend, a peer, or a child the du form (verb: duzen) is used.

This is not actually a grammar question. The usage of the Du vs Sie is mostly a question of social context and social standing and can differ a lot between situations. There are no strict rules connected with the choice of Du vs Sie. Following a few general guidelines:

  • the younger you are, the more likely you use Du for persons within a similar age group as yourself
  • the more formal the situation, the likelier the Sie Form
  • using the Du is either offered to you, or included in the social rules of an organisation
  • if you’re in a professional context and someone older or higher ranking has not offered the Du, you should always use the Sie
  • if someone uses the Du form, you’re most likely meant to use it back, if you’re an adult
  • if you’re someones elder or higher ranking, you may offer the Du, but it is not always recommended






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