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Old 06.07.2010, 16:16
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What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

Because the "Sie" form of the verbs in German always seems to be easier to figure out than the "Du" form, I always say "Sie", no matter who I am talking to.

I find it easier because I can just think like this:

ME: What's the verb to see?
ME: sehen!
ME: Ok, so it must be "Sie sehen"

On the other hand, if I du the same with "Du" it doesn't come quite as automatically:

ME: What's the verb to see?
ME: sehen!
ME: Ok, so it must be "Du sehst" or is it "Du siehst"?

See what I mean? The "Sie" form just seems to slip into place effortlessly without having to think about irregular cases.

So anyway, what would that sound like to a native German speaker - to always here someone referring to them as "Sie"?

Will people think I'm weird, very formal, old fashioned, a snob, etc?
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:18
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

Me too, prefer Sie as the verb doesn't need to be messed with! But my German is so limited I am happy if I can get anything out that sounds halfway sensible!
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:22
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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Me too, prefer Sie as the verb doesn't need to be messed with! But my German is so limited I am happy if I can get anything out that sounds halfway sensible!
Glad to hear I'm not the only one who does this.
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:26
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

No you are not. When something is not your first language nobody expects you to be fluent. But at least you try so its good.

You can do what i do sometimes without thinking. Mix tu and vous in the same sentence. Some verbs are just easier in their formal form than others :P
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:50
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

Good to make mistakes and be corrected, no?

You can always add the -st ending and you'll probably be understood, if you get it wrong you'll get a chance to learn the right ending.
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:52
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

I don't remember if I had the same issue when learning German, but when my husband was learning it, he always used the more formal version, even with me (he also does this with his rudimentary French). I could understand most of the time, but when it got embarassing was when I had misplaced my public transit ticket in a German city before he was really confident in his German. As I was frantically searching (I did eventually find it), he was helpfully offering suggestions of places it could be in German so that the ticket controller would be able to understand (instead of having the controller think we were scheming, trying to get away with not having a ticket), but he did so using the formal! My first instict was resentment, even though I knew he didn't do it on purpose, because it felt like he was trying to distance himself from me. I'm glad we're past that stage.

I think that, while it is safer to default to the formal, it can feel awkward for people who are on familiar terms with you, and more so for people who just became friends and are trying to be on familiar terms with you. Still, if you are friends, you should be able to explain that to them and they should be able to give you the benefit of the doubt as a non-native speaker.

After all, it is better to use the formal in an informal situation than to use the informal in a formal situation.
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:53
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

I guess it's why English speakers drop 'thou art' in favour of 'you are' about 300 years ago...
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:55
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

I actually nipped across to France with the tram this morning, still a novelty for an Aussie, and that was interesting. All I could think of were Du and Sie which I didn't want, and my ancient French could only manage Je something! Still, I bought what I wanted, got there and back, had a nice coffee and cake so I guess it can't be all bad!
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:56
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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I guess it's why English speakers drop 'thou art' in favour of 'you are' about 300 years ago...
And 'thou hast' . . .
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Old 06.07.2010, 16:57
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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And 'thou hast' . . .
Are we on thousies?
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Old 06.07.2010, 17:00
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

No-one is going to think less of you if you do it but it does sound very strange, particularly if you know the person well. My (then) girlfriend's family found it hilarious when I referred to her as Sie.
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Old 06.07.2010, 17:11
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

Using Sie all the time in German.... how could I say that... Let's say it depends the rest of your German.

If you are not that good, just communicating but not master properly, it sounds just wrong in my ears and I just thing "foreign language lerner, no worry, just change the verb forms in my head".
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Old 06.07.2010, 17:13
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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I guess it's why English speakers drop 'thou art' in favour of 'you are' about 300 years ago...
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And 'thou hast' . . .
Forsooth, for thine guid self parley, I prithee; else ere long a disputation.

Attachment 16826

Last edited by weejeem; 14.10.2011 at 15:03.
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Old 06.07.2010, 18:49
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

well I have the reverse problem sometimes. I make the "du" slip with people that I should say "sie" to. its a bit embarrasing sometimes.
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Old 06.07.2010, 19:15
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

In answer to the OP's question - yes it will sound funny, but nowhere as funny as your accent probably does, hence you can get away with the grammatical equivelent of blue murder, and nobody will bat so much as an eyelid.

The Sie and du things get a lot easier with practice and experience. When I was first here I'd practice German with my GF so I was more familiar with the du conjugations than the Sie conjugations, and to be honest nobody took any offence whatsoever.

Keep plugging away at it and you'll eventually get it
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Old 06.07.2010, 19:43
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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Because the "Sie" form of the verbs in German always seems to be easier to figure out than the "Du" form, I always say "Sie", no matter who I am talking to.

I find it easier because I can just think like this:

ME: What's the verb to see?
ME: sehen!
ME: Ok, so it must be "Sie sehen"

On the other hand, if I du the same with "Du" it doesn't come quite as automatically:

ME: What's the verb to see?
ME: sehen!
ME: Ok, so it must be "Du sehst" or is it "Du siehst"?

See what I mean? The "Sie" form just seems to slip into place effortlessly without having to think about irregular cases.

So anyway, what would that sound like to a native German speaker - to always here someone referring to them as "Sie"?

Will people think I'm weird, very formal, old fashioned, a snob, etc?
Yeah mate that is going to sound quite weird but if it makes you feel any better. i worked for 2 years with a Spaniard that always referred to his wife as sein oder seiner.
EG Heute abend essen wir mit seiner Familie.... instead of ihrer....

Funny, sounded like he was gay... But he's been here 12 + years !!!

I really suggest you get the hang of the sie, Sie and du first. Makes the building of dative and accusative structures alot more logical....
Plug away guys, it comes...
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Old 06.07.2010, 20:25
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

I always use Sie if i'm not sure (or don't know) I've found that people tell me when i'm being too formal. Although, the formal was emphasised so much in German and French in school (it being an alien concept in English) that it's the first one that i think of!
Starting German lessons again in August so hopefully that'll help move my language skills along.

an interesting point (i find it interesting anyway), "thou" was actually the informal address and "you" the formal in english. Don't know how we all started using "you" all the time though.
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Old 06.07.2010, 20:42
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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well I have the reverse problem sometimes. I make the "du" slip with people that I should say "sie" to. its a bit embarrasing sometimes.
i'm the same. i find du much easier. sometimes when i know i'm talking to someone that i really must use sie for, i even apologize pre-emptively in case i accidentally slip into du.
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Old 06.07.2010, 20:47
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

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, hence you can get away with the grammatical equivelent of blue murder, and nobody will bat so much as an eyelid.
that's actually my strategy! i liberally mix use of du and sie alternating even within a sentence.
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Old 06.07.2010, 21:14
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Re: What does it sound like to others if you ALWAYS use the "Sie" form of the verb?

Glad to know someone else has this question....I am actually pretty fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and German, but the use of the Du and Sie form is totally different in each language, and depends upon the country, even within the same language....(Spanish in Spain is not the same, as in South America, especially in relation to the use of "tu" and "Usted").

So, is the use of Du and Sie the same between Germans and Swiss? I had this adorable young man as a patient today, and found myself floating between du and Sie for the entire appointment and finally felt rather foolish....help!
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