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How to use Sie?

Hi im having problems understanding the word " sie" im not sure when to use it as " They, She , or ( Formal) You" please explain to me thank you

July 17, 2017



Sie can be used for They, She and formal you. e.g. 1. "Sie geht zur Schule" = "She goes to school". 2. "Sie sind hübsch" = "you(singular) are beautiful" Here you conjugate the Verb like you would with the plural Sie (They) in comparison to "du bist hübsch"= "you are beautiful" 3. "Sie sind hübsch" = "they are beautiful" . In German it is the same phrasing but it conveys a different meaning. You can differentiate with context.

Sie as in formal you is mainly used to speak to authorities such as teachers, police officers etc. It is also used to speak to strangers.

I hope that helped


Some tips - 1) If you see Sie (capitalized 's' Sie) in the middle of the sentence, it's a Formal You. If the 's' is lowercase then it's something else. 2) Verbs taking Sie (Formal You) and sie (they) conjugate the same way...in the infinitive! Meaning, look for that -en ending on the verb (i.e., Sie schwimmen, which means both "they swim" and "You swim"). Again, check for capitalized letters in the middle of the sentence. 3) If you see 'sie' with a third person singular verb conjugation (i.e. sie bringt, which means "she brings") then it refers to "she." If you see -en, then it's not "she."

Of course, if Sie is capitalized at the beginning of the sentence, it can be any of the above and if it takes an infinitive word you can translate it to mean You (formal) or they.

Hope this helps!


in the infinitive ? when you conjugate a verb it is not in its infinitive form anymore. "Sie" as in "formal you" and "they" do have the same exact conjugation e.g. "Sie aßen" It kann either be "you(singular) ate" or "they ate". And in German almost all verbs end with -en in their infinitive form. There are exceptions like "sein" but these kind of verbs end like that because e.g. "seien" changed into "sein" over time. Meaning those technically are the same since they are shortened versions.


sie (she)

Sie schläft. ( note the conjugation of the verb)

Sie sitzt auf dem Gras.

Jetzt ist sie sehr glücklich.


sie (they)

Sie schlafen. (conjugation is different)

Sie sitzen auf dem Gras.

Jetzt sind sie sehr glücklich. („sind" instead of „ist")


Sie (formal you—can be used to refer formally to one or more individuals)

Sie schlafen. (conjugation and capitalization in this instance is the same as sie/they: context must be used to derive whether it is sie/they or Sie/you; if there is no context available, either translation is acceptable)

Sie sitzen auf dem Gras.

Jetzt sind Sie sehr glücklich. (In this instance, capitalization has made it clear that this is formal you and formal you only. Sie/formal you is ALWAYS capitalized.)


thanks to who replied really helped!

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