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Use of sie and Sie

One of the questions asks "Haben sie alle zehn Geräte?"

I marked "Do they have all ten machines?" as the answer. It said the answer should also include "Do you have all ten machines?"

Isn't this technically incorrect? Wouldn't the question have needed to be ""Haben Sie alle zehn Geräte?"

May 28, 2012



Yes, you're right. Both in plural and in singular it has to be 'Sie'.


Well, as a Brazilian lerner, although speaking English, I have found some difficulty to understand it well, for in Portuguese it is a little confusing for us. As far as I have understood, "Sie" in capital letter means "you" in formal use, while "sie" can be both "she" and "they". Am I correct, guys ?


In that case you would rely on the conjugation of the verb.

For example if asking if somebody speaks:

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? (You (formal) speak German?)

Spricht sie Deutsch? (she speaks German?)

Sprechen sie Deutsch? (they speak German?)

Sie at the begining of a sentence generally requires context to figure out if it is Formal or They Sie/sie.


yes, that's correct.


@Struck: No, what you write is not correct. The formal 'you' always has to be capitalized in singular as well as in plural. The uncapitalized 'sie' either means 'she' or 'they'. See here: http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibregeln/gross-und-kleinschreibung#K84


@Struck: Please, don't strangle yourself! ;-)


For a beginner, in a practical sense, wouldn't it be much easier to address all "you's (singular, plural and formal) in the formal conjugation? For example: instead of du hast, use Sie haben. Then all you have to memorize, outside of the basic verb form (haben) would be the "I" and the he/she/it conjugation. Everything else would be the basic verb form (haben). You would use it for you, we and they (Sie haben, wir haben and sie haben). That would be much easier and that's the format taught to beginners in such programs as Pimsleur. Now of course, in conversation you'd have to listen for the other conjugations, and be able to recognize them, but for your own purposes, in a self-directed conversation, that might be easier. Does anyone know what that would be like in Germany? How would people on the street respond to the use of the formal "you" conjugation?

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