"Is she drinking?"
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The polite form for "you" is always capitalised: Sie. (Including its various case forms and the associated possessives for "your".)
The words "she" and "they" are lowercase sie. (Unless they come at the beginning of a sentence, since the first word of a sentence is always capitalised.)
This means that a sentence such as Ich liebe sie. is ambiguous -- it could mean "I love her" or "I love them".
If sie is the subject, though, you can tell the difference between "she" and "they" because of the verb ending -- here, for example, trinkt can only be for "she", not for "they": that would be Trinken sie?.
so sie can mean she, but also as you said it can mean they But there are two "types" of "they sie" One-which you capitalised you use when you are talking to someone older than you- it's a respect form Other one is not capitalised And yeah sometimes it gets kind of hard to recognise them but to recognise them you need to know the meaning of other words in the sentence
Basically if you want to form a question that requires “yes” or “no” as an answer, you move the verb to the beginning (if the verb consists of multiple parts, then move only the inflected part). You do this regardless of the verb; you never need to worry about whether or not to add in “do” like you have to in English.
Try figuring out what exactly you are having issues with by starting from the very beginning and advancing step by step. The minute you find something you can't seem to understand, ask a specific question on the corresponding forum and someone should respond with an explanation. Note that it is also very important to hover over the words in each question, especially if you are a beginner. This way, you can easily begin understanding each word and the appropriate grammar. Sometimes when learning a new language, one must step back from the obstacle and even backtrack.
- Sie trinkt. = She is drinking. (Statement.)
- Trinkt sie? = Is she drinking? (Question.)
As in English, the verb comes first in the question.
(Though in English questions, the verb that comes at the beginning is often some form of the helping verb do which German does not need.)
"She drinks?" is not neutral question word order, though.
It's what I call a "surprise/confirmation" question, where you heard something surprising and you want to confirm that you heard it correctly. It's a rather specialised type of question.
In German, Sie trinkt? (with statement word order but question intonation) can be a similar surprise/confirmation question.
For English learners:- It is quite common for us to write She drinks?! when,as described, it is a surprise/confirmation question remark. In speech there would be a lot of emphasis on the activity, as if you were saying She DRINKS?! Luckily in German we can turn the two around, Trinkt sie?
These are the present tense endings for almost all verbs – with certain caveats:
- If the stem ends in -t-, an e is inserted before the endings that don’t already have one. For example arbeiten “to work”: du arbeitest, ihr arbeitet etc. (because *arbeitt would be difficult to pronounce)
- Some verbs also feature a small stem change (typically a vowel change) in the second and third person singular (the du and er/sie/es forms), e.g. geben “to give”: ich geb-e, du gib-st, er/sie/es gib-t, wir geb-en…
- A couple of verbs show greater irregularities. These are only a handful, but they tend to be rather common, most importantly sein and the modals (“want, must, can…”), both of which tend to be wacky in many Indo-European languages (in English for example, to be is the only verb with three different present and two past forms, while modals don’t take the third person -s (“*he cans”) and don’t have an infinitive (“*to can”)).
Thank you for explaining the verb endings. It is very much appreciated. The English grammar part is very helpful, too. I was in the Government's 'Freedom of expression instead of English grammar' experiment. We all ended up loving poetry but it was not so great for learning languages, etc!
If your problem is either with the word order (verb before subject) or with there being no equivalent of “is” (or both at once), please have a quick scan over the thread. Both questions have already been answered multiple times already.
If your problem is a different one, what exactly is it you have trouble understanding?
Basically you simply move the conjugated verb (which is normally in 2nd position for declarative sentences) to the front. So the declarative sentence “Sie trinkt Tee” becomes the question: “Trinkt sie Tee?”
If there is a phrase with a question word (who, what, where etc), that phrase is put even before the verb, just like in English: “Was trinkt sie?” Careful, sometimes the question word may be part of a longer phrase, in which case you have to move the whole thing, not just the question word (again, you should be used to that from English): “Mit wem trinkt sie?” (With whom is she drinking?) “Wessen Hund sieht sie?” (Whose dog does she see?)