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  5. "Man braucht Wasser."

"Man braucht Wasser."

Translation:You need water.

February 18, 2014



So "man" can mean "one" and "you" and what else?


Literally, "man" means "one" in the sense of "people in general": One can see the beach from the hotel.

However, "one" can sound slightly stilted in English, whereas "man" is a normal word that is frequently used in German. For this reason, other translations are possible, such as "you" (You can see the beach from the hotel) or the passive (The beach can be seen from the hotel). In some contexts, "we", "they" or "people" might also be an option. I don't know whether all of these options are accepted in the Duolingo exercises, but they are the ones you would use if you had to translate a real text.

See also this useful summary (PDF file):



Thanks for a good and clear response! :)


So this sentence is like the Spanish "se necesita agua"?


Or "uno necesita agua".


"uno necesita agua" sounds really weird, most people would ask you "¿quién necesita agua? (or something similar) after that sentence, because "uno" in Spanish doesn't have the general/neutral sense it has in English.

No spanish-speaker would use "uno" instead of "se".


So it's like 'on' in French.


So it corresponds to 'on' in French, speaking in general about a group of people. It seems to be used a lot in situations where the English would normally use 'we'.



Your link no longer works!

"Object not found"


Thank you so much!!!


If "Man" means the people as for individual so why I can say person like in this example person needs water ???


Quite a helpful response! Thanks!


How many ways of saying you is there in German?! I think I have it down and then there are more. lol


And to think, in English we only have "you" and "u".


We use one in that sense in English. Though very few do. I use it personally. "When one is tired, one goes to bed." It almost talks as people in general as an individual, if you can understand that.


I can't distinguish Man and Mann


They sound identical; only the spelling is different. However, "Mann" is normally used with a determiner (der/ein Mann - the/a man, etc.) in German, whereas the German word "man" is never used with a determiner. You could use the word "Mann" without an article in a newspaper headline, though.


Why is "a person needs water" wrong?


It's not! It's completely correct. In fact as an American, that sounds better to me than "one needs water", which sounds very old fashioned. In fact, good job to you on finding a better translation! However, duolingo often does not have all the correct answers in their database.


It's not incorrect but I think duolingo marks it as wrong because it wants you to know it's supposed to mean "people" in general. One of the accepted translations would be "People need water". "Man" is used when making a general statement, this is why it does not have a determiner before it, whereas "a person" is not a general statement; Although it has an indefinite article, "a person" refers to one individual as opposed to 'people'. Anyway, I think this is why duolingo took one heart from you ;) But yeah the gist is that humans need water.


I dont know if man can mean person or not, but even if it did there is no 'ein/eine' for the 'a'.


Why wouldn't you just use du?


Because it doesn't literally mean only YOU need water. It'd be like saying "you can't breathe underwater" when you really mean anyone in general.

However, if you meant someone looks dehydrated and you think they need water, then yes, use 'du', as that's specific to that person.


Why 'Someone needs water' is wrong?


"Someone" (German: jemand) is more specific than "man" ("one"). "Man braucht Wasser" means that human beings/people in general need water, e.g. in order to survive. "Someone needs water" means that a specific person needs water, even though we don't say or know who that person is.


The German word "man" may be translated as "one", but in both languages it refers to a generalized global symbol of a person, so you may replace it rather with "everyone".


I wrote 'water is necessary' and it wasn't accepted


Probably because "water is necessary" doesn't indicate what it's necessary for. In this case, it's necessary for people [to live].


I wrote "water is needed". It was accepted...


Rule to remember could be : Man-one, Niemand : Nie-No Mand-one , Je-some mand-one


When hovering over Man it says they could also be correct. I thought Man could be used in a general sense of they like "on" in French or "men" in Dutch (I am Dutch). But this is not the same in German?


It really depends on the context. In contexts in which the speaker/writer excludes himself from the group he refers to, "they" or "people" would also be an option, e.g. "Man sagt, dass er eine Affäre mit seiner Sekretärin hat" (They say that he is having an affair with his secretary).

I don't think I would use "they" in the DL sentence, though. But without context, it's hard to tell. For more information on translating "man", see this short summary:



I think the word "man" is quiet similar to the "on" in french- but again I'm not sure, that's just how I understood it.


It is used in exactly the same way.


doesn't "on" in french equals "je" not "tu" ?!!!


it means plural "you"? because of the "braucht"


The -t ending for present tense verbs is used both in the third person singular (er/sie/es = he/she/it) and in the second person plural (ihr = you [familiar plural]):

er/sie/es braucht = he/she/it needs

ihr braucht = you [familiar plural] need

See also this table: http://german.about.com/library/blregverbs.htm

As I said above, "man" literally means "one", so you use the same verb form you would use for he/she/it: man braucht = one needs. In many contexts, it sounds more natural to say "you" instead of "one" in English, but this has nothing to do with the fact that the present tense verb forms for "he/she/it/one" and "you [familiar plural]" happen to be identical in German.


if man can be used as one, you, they....etc.. then does the verb(in this case braucht) change too? e.g ) man(one) braucht, man(you) brauchst, man(they) brauchen... or in any usage man only works as a third person singular form? which is right?


No, the verb doesn't change. Literally, "man" means "one", and like the English word "one" it is used with a 3rd person singular ("he/she/it") verb form: man braucht (one needs).

That you can use a number of other words instead of "one" in English can cause problems when translating from German to English, but these are translation problems that have nothing to do with German grammar as such.


I put man needs water and it was marked correct. Should it be?


It is awkward English, but so long as "man" refers to "people", I think that's right.


    If you mean "man", like "humanity" (e.g. "Man has colonised all the continents") then use (die) Menschheit.

    If you mean "man", like "humans" (e.g. "Man is the worst swimmer of all the apes") then use (der) Mensch.


    Agreed. But doesn't "one needs water" and "man needs water" mean almost the same thing?

    But you're level eighteen and I'm still at fifteen, so you're probably right.


      The meaning is probably much the same, but the emphasis different. "One" sounds more intangible in tone (and I think maps better to man in German), "Man" more biological (which is why I thought it translates better as der Mensch). Others may disagree :) Level has little to do with it!


      Okay, got it! :)


      Ok this is new, 'Man' means you? what about 'Du'?


      It now feels good to be Brazilian, because we have a particle in portuguese that translates direct into the german "man"


      why not use du,ihr?


      "Man braucht Wasser, you get me? Boom." Big Shaq.


      what is the difference between man and du ?


      So is this an observation/statement of fact or a command? Like can "Man" be used to directly address someone?


      No, you can't use man to adress someone. The main use is, like you said, for observation/facts but also for general commands. It means "one" in the sense of "people in general". Usually it is translated into English as passive voice

      • man verkauft jährlich viele Kleider = one sells many dresses yearly (many dresses are sold yearly).

      • man kann nicht raufen = one cannot smoke (smoking is not allowed)

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