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Thread: To Du Or Not To Du: How Do You Crack One Of Germany's Most Tricky Etiquette Dilemmas?

  1. #11
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    I didn't mean 'random people on the street', but rather people you are well enough acquainted with so that if you randomly run into them on the street, you would feel obliged to stop and chat for a bit, instead of just saying 'hi' in passing and continue walking your separate ways. Let's say this person is not someone you would call 'a personal friend', but someone you've come in repeated contact with through mutual friends or family, and you've known each other this way for several years. All the while, it would be unthinkable that the two of you would ever initiate a visit to each other's homes, or make arrangements involving just the two of you. Not because you dislike each other, but simply because you're never felt a strong personal connection.

    So ... do you Sie or do you Du?
    For me (personally) that would be a DU situation.

    ... or you could just let the other person go first and see what happens I've done this a few times myself in those 'borderline' cases.

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  3. #12
    Senior Member velvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Žoreišar View Post
    To clarify, I didn't mean 'random people on the street', but rather people you are well enough acquainted with so that if you randomly run into them on the street, you would feel obliged to stop and chat for a bit, instead of just saying 'hi' in passing and continue walking your separate ways. Let's say this person is not someone you would call 'a personal friend', but someone you've come in repeated contact with through mutual friends or family, and you've known each other this way for several years. All the while, it would be unthinkable that the two of you would ever initiate a visit to each other's homes, or make arrangements involving just the two of you. Not because you dislike each other, but simply because you're never felt a strong personal connection.

    So ... do you Sie or do you Du?
    That is a quite a special case, and again, it much depends. Is it someone you know through your siblings or friends (so roughly your age and 'social circle')? Du may very well be okay and it wouldnt offend anyone. Is it a friend of your 70 year old aunt? It's rather Sie then.
    Your neighbours may stay forever a Sie-case, too.

    I was long out of school, but occasionally visited my old English and Physics teachers. I would still say Sie, while they would still say Du, because it was what it was like when I was still in school. This setting isnt maybe that rare, also with neighbours you already knew as a child. You would say Sie, and they say Du, because it simply is how it always was. It may well take years until they notice and correct themselves maybe.
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  5. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    That is a quite a special case, [...]
    Is it? I have probably around 20 people in my life whom I know like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    Random people on the street are addressed with "Sie" usually.

    But indeed it depends much on the environment. When you wander over a flea market, you will be addressed with "Du" most of the time (by the traders there) regardless of your age. When you sit at a bar having a drink, it's very likely that other guests will address you with Du, while the waiter of course addresses you with Sie. Which points to another important point of consideration when deciding which one to use. In a job/work environment it's common to use Sie (except for the fairly new fashions explained in the article, start-ups, "modern" tech companies and many international companies have established Du in all directions up and down in the hierarchy), with total strangers, and that includes the taxi driver in general even if you have the same driver for weeks or months, you should simply stick with Sie.

    In more private settings it's a different thing, even if you dont know the person, you can often use Du. You wouldnt use Sie at a metal concert f.e., not to the waiters or other guests or traders or the owner of the location (or the 78 year old band manager for that matter ), generally I think one can "feel" based on the environment and nature of an event whether to use Du or Sie. Like meeting your possible future parents in law? Use the damn Sie until they offer you the Du, which they will most likely do very quickly within the first 10 minutes and when they do you know you've passed the first level of test

    Visit a museum? You may want to address everyone, guests and employees alike, with Sie. Go to a restaurant? Use Sie. Ask a lady at an info point (city/bus/train/whatever)? Use Sie. Everything more "formal" should see the Sie in general.
    Hi Velvet, thanks for sharing that info!

    I have to ask, do these rules vary a bit from place to place inside Germany?

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