When is the right time to use Du and Ihr?

I keep get questions wrong because I don't know when it is the right time to use Du and when to use Ihr instead, if you know the answer please tell me

March 15, 2019

13 Kommentare

du is for you singular, ihr is for you plural

March 15, 2019

I'll try a practical example:

Paul is a friend, Maria is my sister and Lisa is a student in the school chamber, these people are close to me in a certain way, I know them well, so we "Duzen" of us, then I use the "du". Like: "Paul kannst du mir das Buch geben?".

Mr Meier is my employer, Mrs Schulze my doctor and I just met Mr Kunze on the train. I have a certain distance to them and it is then polite to "Siezen" them, then I use in the salutation the "Sie". Like: "Herr Meier, können Sie mir das Buch geben?"

Do I mean my colleagues and colleagues in their majority, I use "Ihr" like: "Habt ihr Zeit, wollen wir noch Essen gehen?"

If I am a course trainer and would like to have dinner with my participants and I am not close to them, then the message is: "Haben Sie noch Zeit, wollen wir gemeinsam Essen gehen?" Here the "Sie" is meant in the plural .

March 15, 2019

Devinja and RedAngel are right, but they explain the difference between familiar Du and formal Sie, a specialty in Germany.

I think your question concerned the difference between Du and Ihr. Am I right? It is singular and plural address (english the same, german not!): Du bist / Ihr seid, Du hast / Ihr habt, Du kannst / Ihr könnt ... Just have a look at the verb, because it changes with the person - and you never will make this mistake again.

March 15, 2019


March 15, 2019


Devinja gave you already a great explanation.

So you wrote you get questions wrong because you don't know the right time to use it. I assume, you mean sentences in Duolingo?

If this is so, please don't become exasperated with this. Even for a German native speaker it is sometimes very difficult or even impossible to say which one is the right answer if you don't have context. An example..

Können Sie mir den Weg sagen? Ja, gerne. Sie gehen erst geradeaus, dann die nächste Straße rechts. Clear sentence, it's the polite form 'Sie'


Sie gehen geradeaus. No context and the pronoun is at the beginning of the sentence. So it could mean 3.person (die Menschen gehen gerade aus)plural or 2.person formal. You can't decide without context. Usually Duo accepts both anwers in this cases. If not, you can report it.

best regards, Angel

March 15, 2019


March 15, 2019

Thanks, Andu444

I was still kind of confused about the other explanations, but now I get it

March 15, 2019

yes, that's probably because there is also the difference between formal and informal you, but that's not what you had asked. :)
'du' (singular) and 'ihr' (plural) are both informal, ie used with family, close friends, and children.
When talking to strangers there is a third option 'Sie' (always with a capital S) which also means you and is the same singular and plural.
I hope I didn't confuse you even more now though... :)

March 15, 2019

It refers to adressing people in conversations. You say "Du" when you are familiar with the (only one) person, and you say "ihr" when you adress more than one Person but you are familiar with the persons.

March 15, 2019

"Du" and "ihr" is a personal, informal adress in Germany. The "formal" adress would then be "Sie"..

March 15, 2019

Example: "Du" bist die Liebe meines Lebens : You are the love of my life (singular) "Ihr " seid meine besten Freunde: you are my best friends (plural)

Schön, "Sie" kennen zu lernen : nice to meet you (informal, unknown person/s)

March 15, 2019

Thanks Steinchen276316

March 15, 2019

As a native german speaker I sadly have to admit that this picture sums it up pretty well:

March 18, 2019
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