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  5. "Wir kennen Sie."

"Wir kennen Sie."

Translation:We know you.

September 19, 2014



Kennen means know as in: Having developed a relationship with, recognize or be familiar with. Wissen means know as in: Being aware of, having knowledge or information concerning, or be absolutely sure about.


Just out of curiosity, wouldn't knowing someone mean that we shouldn't use "Sie" to address them? My understanding from talking to friends to have been in Germany is that "Sie" is almost exclusively reserved for people you've never met before.

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It's not quite so clearly defined. It's possible to know someone for years, but for the relationship to remain formal, despite knowing something about one another. Elderly neighbours, work acquaintances, the postman...


I don't understand why that is so difficult to get. English and german both have exactly the same two levels of formality. You can adress ppl. formally (Mr., Mrs, Herr, Frau) and informally (using first names). When you use Mr. and Mrs. you use "Sie" in german. When you use first names you use "du".


I don't know what you guys are talking about but just one thing..... "Wir kennen Sie" is "We know you". "Wir wissen das" is "We know it" A Tipp: kennen is used for "PEOPLE" and wissen is used for "THINGS". Hope that would clear the whole mess.


Not quite sure about the people/thing disctinction. E.g., "Do you know this car?" would be Kennen Sie dieses Auto?. I'd rather say you use kennen with the meaning of having met.../having seen... before/having made the acquaintance of... whereas wissen implies you know how something works or is to be done.


Why it cant be (we know her)


This is the "formal you" lesson and "Sie" is capitalized so it can't be "her".


but if someone is talking, you can't really tell it's capitalized, so you just have to infer from the rest of the discussion ?


Yes, I guess you can tell by the context, actually I think that happens with every language


can or can't be "her"? I also had this question.


Oh, you're right, I meant "it CAN'T be 'her'"


Wouldn't "Wir kennen sie" translate to "We know she?"


The accusative form of sie is still sie, so "We know her/them" would be "Wir kennen sie".


sie = "she", Sie = "they", or the polite "you"


Can we also translate it as" We know them"


No. When "Sie" is capitalized (assuming it's not at the start of a sentence), it always indicates the formal "you".


How do I know when it is "we know you/them"?


In this case, only when you can see the sentence written out. If "Sie" is capitalized, it's the formal "you".


How do you know this means Sie here is you and not she?


See above. "Sie" is capitalized in this sentence, so it has to be "you".


So, from a cultural perspective, what situations would I use the formal you? In English, we don't have the formal.


As a rule of thumb: when you are speaking with another adult who is neither a relative nor a good friend of yours.

If they are an acquaintance, wait for them to let you know when it's OK to switch from Sie to du.


Yes you do. There are two levels of formality in both english and german. You can adress people formally using Mr. and Mrs. and informally using first names. When you would use Mr. and Mrs. ind english you use "Sie" in german. When you use first names in english you use "Du" in german.


Why is it not we know them


Because "Sie" is capitalized. That makes it the formal "you".


Wouldn't "we know of you" work as well?


I thought dich is you and Sie is her?


German distinguishes between informal and formal "you".

When you are speaking to a child, a relative, or a close friend, you call them du (accusative case: dich.)

When you are speaking to several children, relatives, or friends, you call them ihr (accusative case: euch.)

But when you are speaking to an adult who is not a close friend or relative, you use the polite pronoun Sie (accusative case is also Sie). This polite pronoun is always capitalised, and it's used whether you speak to one person or to several at once.

The pronoun "she/her" is also sie but is not capitalised. Similarly with the pronoun "they/them".


Ok so I just came from a question that was “Kennen sie Sie?” (Do they know you). In spoken German how would you pronounce the final “Sie”? Like, how would I know that’s supposed to mean ‘you’ in spoken formal?


You would pronunce it like the first "sie". You have to rely on context there.


Why sie and not ihr or inhen?


Why sie and not ihr or inhen?

Because you need the accusative case -- Ihnen would be dative (and ihr would dative for "her" rather than "you").

Remember that in German, only masculine words have a separate form for the accusative case: feminine, neuter, and plural words always look the same in the nominative and accusative. So "you" (formal, accusative) is Sie, because Sie acts just like sie ("they") which is plural.

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