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Little motivation note for those learning German

I work as a waiter and yesterday a group of German tourists sat down at one of my tables. While taking orders I noticed that, even though I'm still at the basics, I was using what Duolingo taught me and felt confident doing so. The guests appreciated my effort as well. They even taught me the word for 'bill' which is (die) 'Rechnung'. Even if you're just at the basics, Duolingo can be a great help, and people often like it when you speak a few words from their language.

Good luck with your languages!

June 7, 2018


  • 1647

"Die Rechnung bitte!" :-) Nice story, thanks for sharing.


You're welcome :)

  • 1265

I am always on the lookout for German accents. And then I hit he/she with Seid ihr Deutscher? And the conversation begins.


You are a woman after my own heart... I do it all the time too and I have a special 'radar' for Spanish .... it's a great way to make friends and to show the good side of human nature.... well done you.


Shouldn't it be "Sind Sie Deutscher?", though, because you don't know them?


If i am not wrong, Sind sie deutscher is the polite form to ask one person, but seid ihr is for a group of people.


“Seid ihr...” is for a group of people whom you would call “du”... friends, family, kids, fellow students, etc. “Sind Sie.....?” is the formal ‘you’ for any number of people: one , two, or a dozen.


It's probably not going to matter a huge amount in a spoken conversation, but I believe "Deutsch-" should be declined as an adjective would be. If you're speaking to more than one person, I think you only have two choices, and which you use depends on your desired level of formality:

  • Seid ihr Deutsche? (informal)

  • Sind Sie Deutsche? (polite)

So just an 'e' ending, in both cases. Whether actual native speakers care about this sort of thing, I have no idea!


Yes, native speakers care about this sort of thing :-) but they will understand you the other way round as well.

Formal (e.g. for addressing older people):

  • Singular/male: Sind Sie Deutscher?
  • Singular/female: Sind Sie Deutsche?
  • Plural: Sind Sie Deutsche?

Informal (if you already know s.o. / for addressing young people or if you meet them on your friends birthday party, for example):

  • Singular/male: Bist du Deutscher?
  • Singular/female: Bist du Deutsche?
  • Plural: Seid ihr Deutsche?

However, when addressing a single person I would rather ask: Bist du/Sind Sie aus Deutschland? (even if it's not exactly the same meaning but it sounds more natural to me).


Some regions use 'Ihr' instead of 'Sie' to express politeness


My son lives in Austria and one of the things I had to learn quickly was to ask for the bill. In Austria it's usual to ask for ' zahlen bitte', pronounced with a bit of a tz as tzahlen. I think zahlen literally means numbers. Of course, before learning to ask for the bill, I had to learn to order ein grosses bier bitte!


Me too. No, not that one! On holiday in stunningly beautiful Austria, many years ago, I tried to order our drinks in German. Amongst other things, I asked for - don't laugh - eine kleine Bier... The waitress told me that it is ein kleines Bier; something I never got wrong again because I daren't say anything else for fear of being told off again and reverted to speaking English only.

Fast forward quite a few years and the landlady in one of the local pubs in the village we had moved to a little while back, suddenly came out with "eine kleine Guinness". When I said I thought it ought to be ein kleines Guinness, she very pompously pointed out that she was right and I was wrong!

Ah well, some people just don't want to learn.


just keep going, mistakes are made only by people who are trying something new.... I think it's always an adventure to try to communicate in another language :)


More precisely:

'Die Zahlen' (as a noun) means numbers,

'zahlen' (as a verb) means to pay

(and BTW zählen means to count)

Thus IMO 'zahlen bitte' literally means 'to pay please'.

'z' and 'tz' in German are always pronounced "ts", whereas for english 'z' they use 's' and for english 's' they use 'ss' or 'ß'.


I thought the title said "little motivation for those who are learning German!" :D


XD that would be a much more negative post ;) Luckily I'm still very much motivated!


That's great! Occasionally, we go to a German restaurant, where I know the owner/chef and much of the staff speak German. It gives me a chance to say a few things in German. Everyone is very patient with my limited vocabulary and grammar.


Thanks for sharing with us your experience! The Germans appreciate when a foreigner learns their language. :-)


Wow that's amazing that you learned all those languages. I'm impressed :)


i heard it gets easier with every language you learn but I'm notn sure tho


Yes, it does get easier, because languages are connected. The more languages you know, the more grammar and vocabulary you will be familiar with when it comes to learning a new language. I have finished the Duolingo tree in German and gone from level A1 to B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in less than half a year because I already know Dutch and English. Dutch has very similar grammar to German in some aspects (esp. verb tenses) and both have many similar words to German.


If you add 'A' to the beginning of the title, it immediately becomes positive and removes all ambiguity! Dave


That's absolutely true. Thanks for the tip!


great thanks ;)


Das ist schön zu wissen, danke! That's nice to know. Thank you!


Yaaay, I guessed that correctly before reading the English part xD


When I traveled to Berlin, My partner and I were given a discount for attempting to speak in German. The manager served us and we were able to have small talk before he sat us down. Only when I asked how to translate a particular phrase into English he understood we were tourists.

Der Manager gibt uns eine 30% rabatt, aus uns rechnung.

My German wasn't and still isn't perfect. Frankly, no-one's German is. However, after applying it to every situation I was in bolstered my understanding and comprehension of listening exercises and I severely recommend visiting Germany and attempting German. You gain greater insight on how the language works (und vielleicht etwas euro zueruck)


Thats awesome!! Would love to run into Native German speakers! :)


Thanks! I don't learn German but I think its a great story and help anyways


Congrats! Good to hear! Thanks for sharing.


Amazing. Thanks for sharing your story, next time you'll post stories in german ;)


Thanks for the motivation ;) the pronunciation really gives me headache....will work harder@@


Congrats on making popular!


Thank you! for sharing such a beautiful story


Great comment. Congrats!


Awww Thank You for sharing this @ThePresentisNow It is very motivating !


Thanks for the story! Definitely helped!


As a beginner to this language still, I thank you for this motivational story. I was watching a film recently that had a bit of German in it and I can honestly say that understanding even a tiny bit of German, even when you are a beginner, has to be one of the best feelings ever. :)

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