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  5. Du vs. Ihr?


Du vs. Ihr?

I've been viewing a german translation of a recent British t.v. series (Taboo). Up until now I thought the difference between using Du and Ihr (dich und euch) was that of addressing a single person you are familiar with and a group of people (one or more of whom you are familiar). But in this translation, I keep hearing lines of dialog when one of the actors is clearly referring to a single person and not a group, but they go back and forth between ihr and du. The translation is provided by a German company, so I don't think it is a matter of the translators being sloppy. The series is set in early nineteenth century England, when perhaps conventions were different. One of the characters is a prince and others addressing him repeatedly use "euch" and not "sich" , e..g. "Euer Hochheit." I'm totally confused.

March 4, 2018



Yes, indeed: This "Ihr" (and thus "Euch", "Euer" etc) was the respectful form of address toward a king, a prince or similar people in former times.

  • 1573

This is called the royal or majestic plural. A king may refer to himself as we instead of "I". An important person may also be referred to in the plural such as Your Excellencies; this is common in Egypt. These are just two examples; almost any combination of plural pronouns both self-referencing and being referred to may be used in certain times, places with certain people.

  • 1573

Und vergiss es nicht, Hoheit! :-0


Und vergesst es nicht, Euer Hoheit! (It has to be the plural "vergesst").

  • 1573

Heike - Good catch! Danke.


well ihr would usually be 2 person plural. du 2 person singular(infomal speech). exception: in old times it was normal to adress higher standing people with Ihr or euch like ihe königliche hoheit for a queen seine königliche hoheit for the king when speeking to others like ihre königliche hoheit wünscht zu speisen... (telling the cook what the queen wants to eat now) and euer königliche Hoheit when adressing the king or queen directly. like wie euer königliche Hoheit befiehlt ( as your royal majestic commands.)

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