"Du" vs. "Sie"

Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Customs and other German topics.

When can I address somebody in an informal way?

"Du" vs. "Sie"

If you speak some German, you will inevitably encounter the question whether you ought to address people as "Du" (informal) or "Sie" (formal). The key is your closeness with your contact. If it is an older person, it is always polite to address them as "Sie" - unless your contact offers the more informal "Du" to you first. The rule is that only 'superior' people (e.g. those with more status, or older than you) can offer this. "Du" is very common among students in their twenties. There is also a tendency to use "Du" all over the workplace, but that does not change the existing hierarchy at all, thus it should be avoided. What is to be avoided at all cost is to get friendly with your co-workers/bosses at an "office party", switch to the "Du' and carry it over to the normal office routines. Believe me, it just does not work.



Nobody has commented on this tip yet. Be the first.


URL: (optional)


Not finding the advice and tips you need on this German Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Sherril Steele-Carlin