https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Diabolus89

"Ihr" or "Sie"?

I was under the impression that when speaking to a stranger you would refer to them as "Sie", and that when speaking to a group of people, you would refer to them as "ihr".

However, I'm watching some youtube videos, where a guy is playing a game (in German) to help boost my learning. Whenever a character speaks to him they use "ihr" and vice versa whenever he speaks to a character (these characters are strangers too).

Dialogue such "Und ihr seid?" or "Ihr habt...." would be used.

Why is this? This has slightly confused me.

June 22, 2016

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/person243

You would write this old and very formal "Ihr" with a uppercase "I" (also the other forms "Euch"/"Euer"). It is not used in any modern day conversations anymore; like the English "thou". But if you play a game with medieval characters (which I guess this guy does) the old forms are, well, authentic. There are some similar adressates that are not used anymore and sound a bit funny when used today. For example: "Ihro Gnaden" spoken to somebody higher up but still sometimes disrespectful somehow, "er/sie" instead of "du" when talking with somebody of lower status, "wir" instead of "ich" pluralis majestics and so on.

I hope I could be of help.

June 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/azhek

damn, your response perfectly solved my doubt.

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/biertopf

If you speak to a group of strangers, you'd use "Sie" as well (it can be used for addressing one person or several people):
Und Sie sind...? Und Sie haben...? (sing. plural)

"Ihr" is the informal version (plural "du"). However, I have the feeling that it is "easier" to address a group of strangers with "ihr" than to adress one stranger with "du".

Addressing one person as "Ihr" is not common in current German, but it was a formal way of addressing people in former times.

EDIT: Corrected "ihr" to "Ihr" in my last paragraph - thanks, person243, for the hint.

June 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Diabolus89

Thanks guys that clears a lot up. You're right, the game is set in a fantasy/medieval setting - so they used "Ihr " to match the setting.

June 22, 2016

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