"Dürfte er ihre Toilette benutzen?"

Translation:May he use her restroom?

April 17, 2013

This discussion is locked.


I find this translation misleading, because "May he use her restroom", as in "Is he allowed to use her restroom?" would be in German: "Darf er ihre Toilette benutzen?"

However, "Dürfte er ihre Toilette benutzen" would be equivalent in English to: "Would he be allowed to use her restroom?"

Dürfte is Konjunktiv 2, which means that it expresses an hypothetical situation, much like in English with the words "would" and "were", the only difference is that in German it is possible to use Konjunktiv 2 using only one word that has been "tempered" with, usually, but not exclusively, in the Präteritum form.

For example:

Er hat = he has. Er hatte = he had (past - Präteritum). Er hätte = he would have.

From this we can surmise that:

Er darf = he is allowed/he may. Er durfte= he was allowed (past - Präteritum). Er dürfte = he would be allowed.


I agree with this, could a native please confirm it is correct?


"...ihre Toilette..." -> why not translate it by "...their restroom..." (instead of "her")?


Restroom sounds a bit twee to British ears - it is noticeable that nobody above has used the word !


Americans are embarrassed to say toilet


Americans aren't likely to say "her restroom." The word is used for public accommodations and it's more likely that a person would ask to use "the restroom" in public. In a home, Americans are more likely to say "her bathroom" because that's where the toilet almost always is.

Americans aren't embarrassed to use the word toilet but it's generally used to refer to a toilet bowl. It's less often used for other toilet items, which are still called toiletries in the US.

The bottom line is that most English speakers use some word related to grooming and washing, such as bathroom, lavatory or toilet. They are all euphemisms for the same thing with very similar literal meanings.


Darf er - can he... Durfte er - could he... ?

[deactivated user]

    Yes, but mind the umlaut. "durfte" is in the preterite tense.


    "durfte" (with an Umlaut) is the Past Subjunctive. Could it then mean "might he have used her toilet"?

    [deactivated user]

      No, you'd have to use a different modal.

      Könnte er ihre Toilette benutzt haben?


      If you don't have access to the umlaut, you can put an "e" after the vowel to represent it (ä = ae, ö = oe, ü = ue).


      miaerbus Why not: "COULD he use her toilet"? As a Native English speaker this is EXACTLY what I would say. Of course it does not mean "Is he able to.." , it is asking for permission to. In normal speech we rarely use "may" to ask for permission


      I do, and I correct my children when they don't. :)


      Maybe they should refer you to the usage notes in dictionaries that explain that people who insist that "can" should be used for ability, and "may" should be used for permission are wrong.


      Sorry, but is "may he", in the present tense, not "darf er" ? We learned our verbs: Durfen - darf - durfte - hat gedurft (can't add umlauts in on keyboard)


      Not a native speaker, but my understanding is dürfte is a conditional version of darf. It is tricky to translate them differently into English, but its like you're not asking if you're allowed to do something in the sense of it being against the rules, but rather just politely asking permission.


      Why "ihre Toilette" can't be translated as "your bathroom" (using ihre as formal you)?


      If it were to be translated as the formal 'your', it would have to be 'Ihre' (note the capital 'I').


      "would he be allowed" (to use her toilet) is also accepted


      Why not: "COULD he use her toilet"?


      that would be "Könnte er ihre Toilette benutzen?"


      Of course! I don't even know why I asked that, I learnt it by now :)


      Ihre is the formal you. In this context, it sounds like the person is asking an unknown third party permission on behalf of someone else to use the bathroom. So, ihre as a form of your should be also accepted, understanding the context of the question itself.


      But Ihre for the formal you has to be spelt with a capital I, so it is incorrect here.

      • 1071

      Surely for a simple request this ought to be 'darf er ihre Toilette benutzen?' 'Dürfte er ihre Toilette benutzen?' is Konjunktiv 2, i.e. conditional, and would mean 'Should he use her Toilet'? There must be a distinction in sense between a present indicative and a conditional, unless, despite the tense, this is just the way a German prefers to say it. Any native German speaker out there?!


      Still no answer for why conditional tense in German for asking permission. Can someone please explain?


      "Might he use use her toilet?"


      That's not very good English so... just go with "may he..."


      I believe it's perfectly good British usage. Oh, except for the "use use"...


      Yes, "Might he use...?" sounds perfectly good to me (Br English). "May he use...?" sounds awkward to my ear, but it is probably correct, and it does get the meaning across.


      I think "may he use" is more American than British. Both sound good to me.


      I speak American English, but "might he use" still sounds much better than "may he use".


      as a child, i am expected to use 'may' because it is polite, therefore, it sounds completely normal to me. i assume that as you get older, you will use it less because one on the main places it is used is in school when talking to teachers, and at home when talking to your parents or guests.


      Why not "Does he have permission to use her toilet?" ? DL marked it wrong.


      Why is "Darf es..." marked wrong? (I had the question in English and was asked to provide the German)


      Is this some kind of toilet brokerage ? Where do I apply ?


      Normal speed 'benutzen' - slow speed 'nutzen'


      You can't hear the er before ihre in the audio unless you slow it down lol


      How urgent is it to need a rest?


      Why isn't it "your restroom"?


      Because ihre doesn't start with a capital letter, therefore it has to mean her or their.


      Very difficult... It's her restroom? How do we know?

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