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Formal You - Why Was I Wrong?

The English sentence given was "You are eating the apple."

The options were: 1. Sie essen den Apfel. 2. Sie isst den Apfel. 3. Ihr esst den Apfel.

Duolingo says only 1 and 3 are correct. But wouldn't all three options be correct? Doesn't #2 translate to "You (formal, singular) are eating the apple"?

July 18, 2012



Number 2 is "She is eating the apple." You're probably thinking of "Du isst" (informal, singular).

Sie essen (formal, singular/plural)

Ihr esst (informal, plural)


Exactly. If it's at the start of a sentence, you have to rely on context. The same goes for spoken language. Native speakers often avoid these ambiguities by using the demonstrative pronoun "die" instead of the personal pronoun "sie": Sie essen Fisch. -> Die essen Fisch. http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/InflectionRules/FRegeln-P/Pron-der-die-das.html?lang=en


Sie essen = you eat/you're eating (formal, addressing one or more people); sie essen = they eat/they're eating; sie isst = she eats/she's eating


Yeah, jazzyd. Uppercase/ lowercase isn't noticeable when they start a sentence, so you'll have to rely on verb conjugations and context.

And if the pronoun isn't first in the sentence when you're writing, you can see it.

Im Restaruant isst sie = She's eating in the restaurant. Im Restaurant essen sie = They're eating in the restaurant. Im Restaurant essen Sie = You're eating in the restaurant.


So capitalization matters. What about when you start a sentence with "Sie"? Reading "Sie essen," how would I tell whether it's you (singular formal) eat, you (plural formal) eat, or they eat? Just by context?


Thank you both!

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