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https://www.duolingo.com/crystalkm

Meeting the Parents

I am travelling to Germany in two months to visit my boyfriend (he's German) and I'm not very confident with my current skills. I want to greet his parents properly when I meet them for the first time. Are there any tips for me to respectfully introduce myself??? I know they speak English perfectly well, but I think it's important to speak German when I can and I want to surprise my boyfriend. Help!

1
4 years ago

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/EeroK

It isn't totally related to the "meeting the parents" -theme, but I just have to agree to the importance of "duzen" und "siezen" (using du or Sie). Even though I'm living here for year and a half, it is still sometimes so frustrating for me.

For example at work:

  • We generally at my work have a rule that you say "du" to you colleagues, if they don't have something against that. Even my boss or some elderly colleagues I can "duzen". BUT then there are some that either come from another area or are just a bit old fashioned and are offended if you forget the "Sie". So I need to juggle between both of them, depending on who is in the room.

  • When I'm talking with for example our cleaning ladies or other maintenance staff, I often say "du", because I'm just used to it at work. Then sometimes someone replies with "Sie" and I feel horrible. They look at me as "superior" and my "du" probably sounds a bit demeaning.

At a street:

  • I need to ask directions. I use "Sie" and got a reply with "du" and this "hey, so cute, you are a tourist and try to speak german" attitude, as my sentence with the "Sie" probably sounds directly from a guide book.

Many people and books say that "du" is reserved only for the closest friends and family members etc. Probably it was like that, but at least here in the south (Freiburg area) I've NEVER heard anybody using "Sie" when you are among about your age group, no matter if the other people are your friends or just random people you met 2 seconds ago. Never.

For example I was just at a job interview, it was a group interview and we were also chatting during the breaks. It was instant "duzen", no questions asked, even though we were all strangers. (I got the job, so it apparently wasn't wrong to do that ;) )

Sometimes children or teenagers use "Sie" when talking with me, and in customer service situations you hear that of course too. BUT if you go to the trendy cheap student bar and are under 45 and not dressed in a suit, you'll probably get your food served with a "du". I still remember the first time when that happened to me. I was so surprised :D

Meeting the parents? Talking to your superior? Meeting your elderly neighbor? 100% "Sie", until advised otherwise, but in casual situations where you talking with somebody loosely about in your age group, "Sie" can sound really out of place.

Good luck with the parents! I just had a similar experience and survived it ;)

5
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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Thanks for the insights! The usage in social situations seems similar to my experience. I'm always trying to improve the calibration of my "du-radar", and detailed accounts like yours are very helpful. Then again, a few Google searches on terms like "duzen" show that even natives are not always sure about these things :-).

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/crystalkm

Thank you so much for the detailed accounts of your experiences. I am feeling much more confident now in giving it my best shot, and I will remember your advice. I know my boyfriends family is Bavarian and they seem to be very traditional, so I will make sure I talk formally until it's indicated I should do otherwise.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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There are no secret extra politeness rules specifically for meeting your parter's parents -- or at least, nobody ever told me about them. To be safe, you'll want to hold off on calling them "du" until they ask you to (which I suspect they will probably do at once). Over the years I have unintentionally annoyed Germans in many ways, but I have never yet managed to annoy a German by my incompetent attempts at speaking their language. Generally they appreciate the effort :-).

3
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/crystalkm

Thank you for the advice, I will try my best and hope for the best! :)

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkHopman
MarkHopman
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German is extremely difficult to learn for native English speakers, so really: don't overlook it. Just use the phrases you learnt on duo and don't improvise. I would tell you to plan ahead with your boyfriend but since you want to surprise him... take the flirting lessons! It doesn't matter how cheesy some of those phrases are, you'll be sure to win his heart lol.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/crystalkm

Thanks for the tip, I've been saving up for the flirting lessons! Looking forward to some cheesy lines :)

2
Reply64 years ago