Dutch people use “duzen” and “siezen” differently than germans

When do you say "Sie" and when do you say "Du"? In Dutch there are different rules than in German.

A Dutch family in the fifties

Published 08-07-2011 in: Everyday Life in the Netherlands Last updated on 15-05-2020 // 227 comments.

Dutch also has two different forms of address: "Sie" means "you" u (pronunciation like the german u) and "du" is called jij or je. However, Dutch people are more formal than Germans. In some situations, this leads to misunderstandings.

Business conversations

In this business conversation the "You" rules (on the stairs in the background probably the "You" …)

On the subject of "duzen" and "siezen" I have also written a blog article in Dutch: Waarom je beter niet uit het glas van een Duitser kunt drinken (en nog meer tips voor het gebruik van Du en Sie)

The German "Sie": deliberate distance and objectivity

In Germany, you are on the safe side with "Sie". Unknown people are always on first name terms, exceptions prove the rule. "You" is an expression of respect. At the same time – and this is actually even more important – this form of address creates a certain – intended – distance between the interlocutors.

"You" is reserved for friends and good acquaintances. With relatives and children, the "Du" is taken for granted, as well as in night prayers, because Germans are also on a first-name basis with God.

Others have to earn the "Du" to a certain extent, for example when an acquaintance turns into a friendship or when a cooperation proves its worth over time.

You on the Internet

But even in Germany there are many situations in which you can be on a first name basis. This form of address is widely used on the Internet. It is often found among musicians and other artists, on the sports field and in the pub. And even if the motto in the working world is still "you," there are now enough companies where "you" is part of the good manners.

The decisive factor is that in German cultural circles the "Jij" is not the same as the "du" the "you" is offered. With this symbolic act, the interlocutors agree on a new level of familiarity. A hasty "Du" is often perceived as distancing.

How does the "Duzen" and "Sie" work in the Netherlands??

The Dutch "Du" ..

The Dutch have a beautiful French word for "Duzen" tutoyeren. You can call them "Siezen" analogously vousvoyeren. Germans often get the impression that people in the Netherlands are only on a first-name basis. This is not the case. However, the boundaries between the "Sie" (u) and the "Du" (jij/je) are more fluid than in German.

It is not uncommon to switch from "u" to "jij" in the middle of conversations with strangers, without prior agreement and without causing bad blood. For people up to forty years of age, the "Du" is the rule anyway, even in a business environment. Not only colleagues, but also superiors and the boss are treated with a casual "jij".

… and "you

Older people are, however, in the vast majority of cases also called by their first name in the Netherlands. This form is also the standard at official occasions, towards dignitaries and other persons of respect. Unlike in German, the Calvinist God also insists on "Sie" in Dutch.

Until the mid-twentieth century, it was also common to address one’s parents (and grandparents) as "u" for reasons of respect. In general, the triumph of the "jij" only began in the sixties.

In the past, Dutch children used to address their parents

"Jij" is not the same as "du"

However, "je" and "jij" do not mean that you have become a friend inner circle belongs to. The form of address simply serves as a casual basis for communication: many Dutch people feel that using "Sie" throughout is distant and stiff. However, a friendly relationship does not automatically go hand in hand with the Dutch "Du".

This means that "je" and "jij" have a different status than the German "Du", which is much more clearly a sign of closeness and familiarity and is therefore only used by selected people.

The "Hamburger Sie" and the "Kassiererinnen-Du" (Cashier’s Du)

Sometimes Germans try the balancing act between the personal "Du" and the distanced "Sie". This is what happens, for example, with the Hamburger Sie, a form of address that combines "Sie" with the first name of the person addressed. For Dutch ears this hybrid sounds strange.

Alexandra, would you please keep your voice down?

The opposite case also exists: Then the surname is combined with "du". This phenomenon can often be observed in supermarket and department store staff, which is why it is commonly referred to as the "you" phenomenon Cashiers-You is called:

Mrs. Kleijn, can you open a second cash register??

A certain familiarity can be created in distant relationships by addressing people in the plural "you" and "you’re". I use it, for example, in stores where I shop more often:

Do you also have striped wool socks??

On the canvas

By the way, I find it a bit surprising that people in movies and on TV like to keep on sifting each other even after they have been through a catastrophe together, although it is well known that this kind of thing welds people together.

Especially in programs adopted from the English-speaking world, the "you" (which can conveniently mean both "you" and "you") all too often has to give way to formal address. For example, you’ve just saved the Earth from an invasion of evil aliens – and then you’re told prosaically: "Ms. Kleijn, set a course for the nearest planet!"

How do you think You with "du" and "Sie? Do you lean more toward one form or the other? Or is there a place and time for both variants?

These articles might also interest you:

About alex

Originally from the Netherlands, Germany has been my adopted country since 1997. Here in the blog you will find more than 400 articles about the differences between the German and Dutch language and culture.

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Kudos again for this post, Alex! I did not know the terms Hamburger-Sie and Kassierinnen-Du yet! These were nameless language peculiarities for me so far ;-)

Since I work at a court of law, where things are not quite so casual anyway, we are on first-name terms at work. Privately I am basically ready to the Du, but it must fit. In my new neighborhood, where I’m just the oldest, I introduced myself to everyone by their first name and introduced the du.

Yeah, "cashier-you" is awesome, they really do say that all the time!

For "you plus first name" I knew the term "English Siezen" – which is actually funny, because in English you don’t use "Sie" at all.

English siezen probably comes from American circles, where addressing by first name is customary. However I would find English duzen logical ..

I had already worked in retail myself. The "cashier’s first name" is actually used to avoid customers calling us by our first names. :-)

Would customers really do that? In Germany?

Not quite. In English, you are actually only formally addressed. The former you ("Thou") has been abolished and not the you ("You").

The cashiers-you sometimes will Munich You called.

I almost suspect that the phenomenon and the term "cashier’s euchzen" is also due to the bad habit of attaching name tags to supermarket clerks that arose some years ago. And, as is well known, not just simple nameplates as in the American army (and today also in the German and other armies…), but nameplates with "Mr." and "Mrs.", i.e. "Mr. Kasulzke" and "Mrs. ozturk".

I am annoyed every time I see the nonsense, and would be inclined to suspect that it is with "Ey, Mrs. Meyer, haste still ne role 10-cent pieces?!" is also an unconscious or semi-conscious protest against these ridiculous signs ..

With the Kassiererinnen-Du I heard somewhere once the explanation that they sometimes wg. Personality protection do not have their real name on the sign, but an invented one. All alone around misunderstandings to avoid, all call themselves thereby. I don’t know if this is true or if I just dreamed it :)

I noticed this once with a saleswoman in a butcher’s shop. Every time I bought something from her, she wore a different name tag!

I was probably wrong. I have just been put in the picture (by my mother) that the "cashier’s you" already existed in the 60s. In fact, already at that time (and certainly still today) the employees were z.B. In department stores, people are instructed not to address each other by their first names in front of customers. This was probably to avoid giving the customers the impression of a conspiratorial, thus somehow threatening community – or also because chummy contacts among employees were generally not so desirable. The Duzen could not be prevented – as0 then this mixed form has arisen from it. (And not only from the eleden name tags.)

also in Germany it was common to address one’s parents with "Sie.

And I once heard that in the Netherlands it also depends on the situation and should even be possible that one is on first name terms and later – in another situation – on first name terms. Is that true?

Hi Andreas, the boundaries between u and jij are quite fluid. So it can happen that in one situation you are on first name terms but afterwards in another context you are on first name terms again. This is not so tragic in Dutch.

A final topic! :-D And you summarize it also nicely!

In some corners of southwestern Germany, I have heard that people still use the familiar form of "Du" to express a degree of familiarity between the chummy "Du" and the distant "Sie"… But someone who has experienced this live, i.e. who comes from these corners, should say something about it.

It seems important to me to note that all these forms of address are products of the early modern period, i.e. not peculiar to the Indo-European languages. Still in Latin there is no Sie. It is invented in the FNZ and one language copies it from the other – just inconsistently. In French, for example, the 2. Person plural gesiezt and in German with the 3. person. In Spanish there is the curious "usted" – as an abbreviation of "vuestra merced", "your grace". (Or does it have to be called "Eure Gnaden" in German?? All a matter of form ;-) )

And in Hebrew, of course, there is no "Sie" either. For that I have to address a woman with "at" (that’s the "Du" for female) and a man with "ata" (that’s the masculine "Du").

In some corners of southwest Germany, so I have been told, also the Ihrzen still held on

So this is what I do here in Hannover in stores I am familiar with. I did not know that there is also a word for this form. There is even Euchzen as a verb, as I just saw ;-)

So that’s what I do here in Hannover in stores I’m familiar with.

Not quite, I would say! Because you address the store or its "team" collectively. You address the saleswoman as "you" – and mean "you here in this store".

But this southwestern German "Ihr" really means a person, or so I have been told. For example, there are supposed to be areas where children respectfully address an awe-inspiring elderly aunt in this way.

I would also like to mention the "Sie", which originated in the Prussian army Erzen. :-) ("Schaff er mir Feuer" with Kleist…) This was first a form of address of (always noble) officers for older crew ranks and hard-boiled non-commissioned officers, whom one could not simply chat up with "You, go ahead… It was originally a bit more respectful than "Du", but then it got the taste of a form of address for subordinates and servants. (Heine makes ironic remarks about it in Wintermarchen – or elsewhere.)

But with this southwestern German "Ihr" really a person is meant.

True. That is a difference. In a way I address the "collective" and thus avoid a direct address with "you".

I also find your remarks on the forms of address of earlier times interesting.

Personally, I find addressing people with their first name more "intimate" than with a simple "you". So I will probably never be able to make friends with the "Hamburger Sie". I like the casual "cashier-you" much better ;-)

I have a certain circle of friends (or better: a few friends), with whom I talk only in this way! (So "Sie" plus first name/nick.) This can be very helpful if you would "actually" address each other as "duzen" – but there is a certain distance to maintain. Or better: There is a certain distance, and it should be expressed linguistically with all friendliness and familiarity.

I can understand the principle well, but for me personally this form of address does not work. There you can see that we come from different cultures ;-)

By the way, this is how I deal with the people in question: I address them by their first name and you, and they address me by their net nick and you – so "Harki, could you please…" This should not happen so often either. ;-)

The "your" for a single person is an outdated form of address and now completely uncommon. Except at medieval markets or role-playing games :)

The "Ihr" in this form of the collective "Sie" I also hear and use very often, just like Alex writes. :)

Yes, how is it in Italy?

Most of the time you are not wrong with "voi", nobody takes it amiss. Mussolinie wanted to make it official.

Yes, I am a Swabian, born in 1950, and I have addressed a subordinate (my lab assistant) as "Er" from time to time ("mach Er das, aber ganz schnell), but there was no trouble because of that. Mentally I still address people like this. I think that one should not say "he" to a subordinate.B. Re-introduce policemen, who are really from the lowest box.

Very nice contribution and very appropriate! I find it interesting that you "see" it that way, Alex.
I also know the Hamburger-Sie, but so far I haven’t come across it yet. That there is a Kassiererinnen-Du I did not know as a word, but the phenomenon already ;-) Occurs to me often in drugstores and I find…somehow terribly inappropriate…I would not like to deal with my colleagues so. Well..

Personally, I prefer to be addressed directly with "Du". From this I then also do not immediately conclude a friendship. Since I don’t like the hierarchy in Germany very much, for me the ‘Du’ is an equation of the interlocutors…might sound a bit silly.
I also do not mind being addressed directly with you. However, here is then quickly crossed the threshold to become a little too loose. You idiot’ goes then but faster and easier over the lips than ‘you idiot’.

I find the combination of "Sie" and swear word that is possible in German fascinating. I’ve also heard that "you jerk/asshole/idiot" is supposed to be a bigger insult than the equivalent with "you" ..

My Dutch grandmother and my great aunts, etc. were respectively. are still today from me gesiezt, they want it so.
However, I myself am a great believer in being on first-name terms, especially in a business environment, for example with service providers, it is not always beneficial to be on first-name terms. One can also have a very friendly Siezen.
And I also like the fact that the transition from "Siezen" to "Duzen" has been formally decided. This is tantamount to a definition of a relationship that is committed consensually. Apart from the fact that sometimes, unfortunately, you can be in the situation where you do not like Duzen, but can not refuse it ..

I have an old courtesy book at home from 1957 (GDR production), in which it says: "In Holland, people are only on first-name terms if they know each other better than well; even children are on first-name terms with their parents."And I once read about Rudi Carrell and the soccer coach Louis van Gaal, that they let their children call them by their first name. Well, these are older people, they probably don’t know any different, they must have had to do it the same way as children. Louis van Gaal says: "I am the best friend of my children, but they must recognize that I belong to a different generation."Well, if he sees it that way, he would have to address his children as well, because they belong to a different generation than he does ;-).
But honestly, if you ask me, it is high time to abolish this bad habit. It is somehow an inverted world when children have to treat the people closest to them like strangers, while they address their teachers at school (who really are strangers) by their first names (I read that somewhere once, too). Respect is all well and good and quite necessary, but you can also overdo it, I would think.

Tina, being formal with one’s parents is about to die out. The convention is actually only found in strictly devout Protestant families.

for me it was always a matter of course to meet the older semesters in my family with the "u" (and they are not yet extinct), I see no problem in it at all. for me this is not impersonal, but an expression of respectful love. i called my mother by her first name in dutch and by her first name in german.
in today’s working life I’m not so quick to be on first-name terms, I’m a bit older and it irritates me to be on first-name terms with much younger people.

Mareike, with "extinction" I meant that the younger generations hardly address their parents with "Sie" anymore. I understand the background (the respectful love mentioned by you) but well!

Interesting contribution! Again something learned, even about the own mother tongue!

I once experienced the Hamburg Sie with my landlady, who was actually from Hamburg! I don’t know the name, but she addressed me by my first name and at the same time called me "Sie".

When it comes to American movies, I have the impression that the script translators base their salutations on the use of the name: If you use Mr, Mrss or Mrs, you are on first name terms, and if you are on first name terms, you are on first name terms.

You can also get totally tangled up in the form of address, as happened with the pop writer Stuckrad-Barre, who first asked the Green politician Strobele in his late-night show, "Do you think it’s okay if I call you by your first name now??", and then confused siezte or duzte.

The dubbing of films often really gets on my nerves. I noticed it the other day on Babylon 5: There are two people on first name terms – ok, one is the president of the federation, the other is the head of the space station -, but they were once married. Which dumbass came up with the idea that ex-spouses are on first name terms again??

By the way, another example for the collective "your": If you talk to a circle of people, some of whom you address as "Siezt" and some of whom you address as "Duzt.

True! In such situations I find this also an elegant solution.

Not only in movies the english "you" is often translated wrong, also in books it is sometimes like that; I think mainly of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Dr. Watson have been close friends for who knows how many years, have been through a lot together, should actually be on a first-name basis according to German standards – but they are on a first-name basis in the most consistent way. Well, it is not always easy to be a translator.

I think, there it will be on the part of the publishers (resp. the station) often also give defaults.

Since I have never read them in English, how do they address each other?? In German they mostly use the last names, or am I wrong??

I have never read them in English; what for, if I have them in German ;-). But it’s true, they call each other by their last names, which is a bit surprising for such long-time friends. However, they don’t use salutations like "Mister" or something like that.

Were Holmes and Watson really friends? Or was there perhaps an irreconcilable class difference?? I’m just asking, because I hardly know the books. The British can be envied for their You, but they have, and certainly had at that time, very sharply defined class distinctions, which perhaps prevented them from being called by their first names.

I don’t really know the two at close quarters either, but after a certain time there was already a close friendship between Holmes and Watson. Nevertheless, they always addressed each other by their surnames only. Whether there was a difference in status, I do not know ..

I like to read books in English sometimes, if that is the original language, especially if I don’t want to wait for the translation. Just as I like to watch movies in English. Unfortunately, I always notice how bad my English is and how many words I don’t know. ;-)
I think that Holmes and Watson are just a gag to show that they are friends, but again not so close to use their first names.

There are also many friends of mine, of whom I use their last name simply as a first name, quasi as a nickname. In student circles this is also very common. Most of the time it’s just meant to be funny, but it can be z.B. also have practical reasons (z.B. in Germany, where about every second girl is called Anna or Maria).
In the same way, the first name is often used as a joke – the relationship should be seen as almost completely separate from the form of address. I think it’s the same with Holmes and Watson. It’s probably just fun to talk to each other like that, you have to include the English humor as well!

Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre are said to have used the French "vous", which means "you", even though they were intimately close to each other.

After fifteen years of Germany I still don’t like the Siezerei. I am probably not the only one. I have a professional contact with a German who was in America for a long time and now works in Holland. He stubbornly speaks English to me, although German would be more natural for both of us. I suppose he wants to avoid that we would have to address each other with "Herr Doktor".

In stores I have occasionally been addressed as ‘der Herr’. In the former Frankfurt department store Schneider, for example, when buying socks or shirts. That was such a tradition bunker. In more feudal times, not so long ago, there was also ‘der Herr’ with plural: ‘Der Herr sind zu gutig,’ ‘Der Herr wunschen ..?’

As a deadly swear word comes to my mind: ‘You person!It was said to a woman in a pre-war movie, but I can’t remember which one.

This form of address in the third person singular would not really make me feel comfortable. So far, however, this has not happened to me (is it due to my not enough "lordly" appearance or simply because of the area?)

Maybe it’s because you are a lady, Alex. I don’t know if the form of address ‘die Dame’ also exists or has ever existed. Maybe that would have been more like ‘Gnadige Frau’. (In the former department store Schneider ‘Gnafrau’) ?).

By the way, have you ever blogged about the fact that Germans can’t actually address each other if they don’t know each other? What will this: Ey! Hello! Excuse me…. o.a., while Dutch always has the convenient mijnheer/mevrouw at its disposal. In Austria it is even worse, there you also have to know the rank in advance: Herr Oberdingsbums, Frau Ministerialrat etc.

In such a case I always say "Excuse me, …" and that works wonderfully. But you are right: something as practical as meneer and mevrouw as a form of address for strangers the German has not ..

Until the 1960s, there was something like that in German, but then it died out, except perhaps in some contexts in Austria: "Gnadige Frau", "Gnadiger Herr", "Gnadiges Fraulein". Was not only common in noble circles, but also in the sense of a polite distant form of address like meneer, mevrouw or in English Sir or Madam. To today’s ears it sounds extremely old-fashioned, of course.

Thanks for the addition Oliver. I have encountered these forms of address in somewhat older books as well.

But in old original Viennese cafes you will at least be promoted to the position of Kommerzialrat! :-))
I don’t understand the German form of address. I can address someone quite simply without a name:" Could you help me (or whatever)" or in the old form:" Could the gentleman / lady be helpful to me".

Och, that is also something like this. As a Dutchman, I always find it extremely rude when someone addresses me with Hallo z.B. to call back. (@Gunter: meant here z.B. when they dropped something and someone tries to talk to them to tell them about it when they walk out of the store).
In our country we usually call someone in this case ‘meneer’ or ‘mevrouw’. Shouting ‘hello’ can also be done but is very rude. I still haven’t got used to the fact that the normally very polite Germans behave like this – even though I know that there is no alternative in German.

Now I get it, but I don’t find "Hallo" unfriendly. Not for nothing it is called "a cheerful / friendly hello". Hallo has a positive connotation in German, z.B. when someone was received enthusiastically, "…there was a big hello".At least here in the Dutch border towns the Dutch customers enter and leave the stores with a friendly "Hoi" or "Hola", which I like much better than the stiff "Guten Tag" of the German customers.

I already understand what Bouke means. I also don’t find it pleasant when someone calls me an attention-getting "hello" when I have left something behind, for example. When addressing someone, however, "hello" has a positive connotation for me, too – but this is a completely different context than the one Bouke mentioned.

I also know what Bouke means. In German you could also call him "mein/der Herr" or "meine/die Dame", but I would find that more unpleasant than a friendly hello.

I also have this aversion to ‘Hallo’ – it is obviously caused by my Dutch youth. Hello was a word that some people shouted into the phone when they picked up the phone, but that was also considered rude. In the past, even the cover of the telephone book said: ‘Zeg nooit hallo…’!’

I don’t really understand about your friend. If you think that he wants to avoid the "Sie" and you would also prefer to address him as "Du", why can’t you agree on the "Du"?? Who forces you to be on first name terms if you both don’t want it??

It is just not a friend, Tina, but a work contact.

Well, anyway, even work contacts can be on a first-name basis if they both want to be. I still wonder who is preventing you from doing so.

Mutual shyness probably. I’m older, he’s higher in rank; we don’t want to emphasize either, so who should start then?? And then this strange ritual, because without a solemn statement it doesn’t seem to work and that would be stupid for both of us. I because I was used to it in Holland, he because he was used to it more comfortably in America.
Maybe we just have to wait for some favorable opportunity, as well as the colleague and I, who have been on a first-name basis since we got terribly wet together in a thunderstorm.

Well, then maybe you should stand together in the rain, there is more than enough of it at the moment ;-). And while you two are communicating in English, why don’t you say to your colleague, "You can say you to me"?!"You’ll see what he says back; he’s not going to terminate your friendship right away ;-). Maybe he’s just waiting for a push from you, like you’re waiting for one from him.
And a ritual is not really necessary to be on a first-name basis either. You could simply agree to be on first name terms and that’s it. Some drink then brotherhood, but that is, as I said, not obligatory; I think it’s just an excuse to go to the pub again, just men are always looking for reasons for that. ;-)

Can fully understand that. According to the "rules", it is usually the older person who offers the you, but in professional life it is the more senior person. I find it generally easier to use the "Sie" in professional life, especially in the situation you describe. I have often been on first name terms with colleagues at work, but in private life I was on first name terms.

what a nice blog! It’s a good idea to be Dutch (or do I have to say Dutchman? I saw out of the corner of my eye that you had already written something there …) and to bring Germans closer linguistically ;-) And you don’t write anything about soccer … Where does this "silly" dislike come from??
I will browse here some more – thank you very much for this very nice article and best regards,

thanks for the praise! I wrote an article about soccer last year during the Men’s World Cup. Unfortunately, the Dutch team did not qualify for the Women’s World Cup. I would have loved to see a match between our two countries :-)

Heel veel groetjes and have fun with browsing!

You could see it just before the world cup. :-))

I meant of course as World Cup game ;-)

Actually, it has become quite relaxed in Germany in the meantime. When I think about how stiff everything was in the past. In school, the teachers had to call you by your first name from the age of 14. I have to be called by their first name, even if I asked to be called by their first name. However, the "you" is also quite helpful with people you don’t like, because you can pronounce it much harder than the soft "you". I grew up with the "Siezen" and it is difficult for me to offer someone the "Du" so easily. I don’t really care how I’m addressed, but I often avoid offering the "Du" because I don’t know how it will be received. Especially since there were rules to follow, e.g.B. that only the older one was allowed to offer the du!Embarrassingly, I must admit that after 40 years in which I visit the Netherlands, I have now only through Alex efahren that there is a u=You. :-))
As for the cashier you, this is probably more from the construction, where it has always been handled so. If you communicate on a big construction site by shouting loudly, it is more likely to reach the right person by last name than by shouting the first name, which if necessary is the same as the first name. still share umpteen other colleagues. If the surname exists more than once, the surname-first name is used, z.B. Meiers Jupp. At the social gathering, then of course only the first name was used, because you could look at each other.

I just remembered the funny situation when you, as an adult, meet people who used to call you by your first name as a child, but you used to call them by their first name yourself. So z.B. Neighbors, parents of classmates and friends. Often it remains with the Duzen and Siezen over decades, so the seventy-year-olds then duzen the 40-year-olds, who siezen the other way around the older ones. After 30 years or so, this is completely natural, neither of them would think of changing it without further ado.

(In fact, only a school buddy’s parents offered me the Du, and I must have been 30-35 by then…)

Also very funny was a situation the other day, where I was with two very old buddies on the road, we all around 40 and I know both for well over 20 years. Suddenly I realized that they were on first name terms, because they had never met before, but only now got to know each other as a business relationship… So the "Du" was done in a few seconds :)

I really think there are more interesting languages than English, but I envy the English speakers for their you. It’s so simple and straightforward. There are so many situations in which I’m not sure whether I should address the person I’m talking to as it would otherwise be rude, or whether addressing them as "Siezen" would come across as too stiff and make me look ridiculous, so I’d rather use "Siezen" you should say.
I find that a decisive factor here is the age, for example, I would never get the idea to address someone at my age. But also there one can be mistaken ..

I personally don’t like to be addressed as "you" and if it were up to me, the "you" could be abolished completely.

This combination of You and first names I know from high school. At that time I found it so strange that teachers, whom I had known for years, suddenly started to address me in the 11th grade. Nevertheless, we were always addressed by our first names.

That u and you are not the same, I have already noticed that. Our Dutch teacher, for example, a Dutch woman, we call her by her first name, even in German, because she says it is different in the Netherlands than in Germany.

But there is also a difference between u and U or? I think I once heard that you only capitalize that when you address God and otherwise lowercase. True that?

By the way, in this context it occurs to me that "in former times" (it’s not that long ago) in German the direct form of address is written in the 2nd letter. Person (you or. her) also still capitalized. I, however, belong to the generation that was taught to write it in lower case and I always find it strange to see it capitalized.

I refuse to accept the so-called "New German Spelling". In my world, the direct form of address is written in BIG letters, just to make it clear that you are addressing someone personally. The so-called spelling reform only serves to "rape" the evolved language for people who are not able or not willing to learn it correctly. I do accept that for whatever reason someone is not able to speak a language without an accent, like me and over 90% of Germans. But that does not mean that you have to adapt the "written language".

"The so-called spelling reform only serves to "rape" the language for people who are unable or unwilling to learn it correctly. "

Even if this does not belong to the topic: I am sorry, but now I feel attacked. I have never claimed that I am unable or unwilling to learn to spell correctly. I have been taught the new spelling in school from the very beginning, and I don’t say the other one is wrong. I’m just saying that it is unfamiliar to me.
Of course a spelling reform would not have been necessary and I can understand that it is not easy to get used to it, but it is done now and cannot be undone anymore. In the meantime, both spellings are allowed again, but just because someone uses the new spelling, to accuse him of being stupid or rebellious, I find absolutely brazen. I did not invent the reform. If you want to blow off your steam at someone, please do it at the person in charge!

This is not attacking you, but the "spelling reform". I am annoyed that billions are spent on such nonsense. By the way, many serious newspapers like the FAZ have reversed the "spelling reform" after a short time and declared that they only use the old form now. Spellings have always changed, we write Thur, Thaler etc. yes also no longer as in the 19. Century, without wasting huge sums of money on it. No one would have thought of printing new atlases because Adenauer ordered that Coln be spelled with a K, or when the Kaiser decreed that Montjoie was now called Monschau. This was then done inexpensively in the next editions.

I think there is also a little pragmatism to consider (or am I speaking too much like a dutchman now?). We have also had spelling reforms, but with us it is so that the people who do this (called Taalunie) are seen here simply as a subsidy-pulling association; rather than as occupational therapy. It is therefore common simply to use the spelling that one learned in the past in the school. There is therefore no right or wrong, but the new spelling will only be fully established after 50 years or so and is always in flux.
Which of course doesn’t mean that I don’t get mad about companies that write ‘kado’ instead of ‘cadeau’ and the like. For me there are limits – but it is mainly because I am in a way ‘indoctrinated’ as a child to observe a certain spelling.

Pragmatism is exactly what was missing.

God en U, dat klopt.
In veel Bijbelvertalingen wordt over God met hoofdletter aan het begin gesproken, niet alleen bij U. Het is dan ook Hij en Hem en in sommige vertalingen ook Zijn.

Omdat Hij Zijn volk wilde redden stuurde Hij Mozes. Mozes bath tot Hem.

(dit zijn geen letterlijke Bijbelteksten, maar voorbeelden hoe het er uit kan zien).

In de Nieuwe BijbelVertaling (NBV) uit 2004 hebben de vertalers ervoor gekozen om hiermee te stoppen. Daar is God ‘gewoon’ u, hij, en gaat het over ‘zijn’ volk.

In oudere Bijbelvertalingen wordt God aangesproken met Gij. In sommige kringen worden die vertalingen nog gebruikt en wordt God met gij aangesproken.

Hi Boom, I do not think that Gunter wanted to attack you there. The last spelling reform has caused a lot of uncertainty (and resentment)!) among the generations that have just learned it differently have learned.

Trijntje has already answered your question about "u/U" in detail. Nowadays, in Dutch, the capital letter spelling is actually only used for God.

Heel boeiend weer.
In het gezin waar ik opgroeide vermeden we lange tijd de keus tussen jij en u doordat we zeiden: komt papa mee? en dergelijke zinnen.
Op hoge leeftijd heeft mijn vader ons opgeroepen om hem ‘je en jij’ te noemen, tot onze grote opluchting. En zijn schoonkinderen noemden hem vanaf die tijd bij de voornaam.

Het aanspreken van God is nog iets subtieler: vanouds spraken christenen hem met een derde vorm aan: gij.
In Vlaanderen ligt dat geloof ik weer anders.

Ik weet niet precies de achtergronden, maar ik meen dat gij in Vlaanderen juist vertrouwelijker klinkt. Het heeft iets te maken met de keuzes die de vertalers van de Statenvertaling hier hebben gemaakt.
Er zijn nog steeds christenen, vooral uit de wat ‘zwaardere’ hoek die God met gij aanspreken.
Ik zelf zeg u tegen God, omdat ik dat zo geleerd heb, en het toch vreemd aanvoelt om er jij van te maken. Dat betekent niet dat er geen vertrouwelijkheid is.
Net zoals kinderen die u zeggen tegen hun ouders natuurlijk wel een goede vertrouwelijke band kunnen hebben.

Mijn eigen kinderen hebben we geleerd om je en jij tegen ons te zeggen; bij hun ooms en tantes verschilt dat een beetje van persoon tot persoon. Ook noemen ze sommige ooms en tantes bij de voornaam, en anderen met ‘oom’ of ‘tante’ erbij. Dat ligt aan de voorkeur van die oom of tante.

een van mijn dochters heeft me overigens laatst verteld dat de vorm you in het Engels juist teruggaat op de u-vorm, de formele vorm. De jij-vorm, de vertrouwelijke vorm, was volgens haar thou, een vorm die in sommige kringen nog wordt gebruikt om God aan te spreken, zoals dat ook het geval is in de King James bijbelvertaling, die in Engeland ongeveer de functie vervult van de Statenvertaling in Nederland.

Ik merk overigens dat er naarmate ik ouder word, en meer grijze haren heb, er meer mensen zijn die u tegen me zeggen.

Leuk geschreven. Alweer!

"In Vlaanderen ligt dat geloof ik weer anders."
Ja in Vlaanderen ligt het heel anders. Niet alleen met gij, maar ook met u. Details ken ik niet, maar ik heb me vaak verbaasd.

In het het Brabants is gij, of ge, min of meer vergelijkbaar met jij in het "Hollands". Hoewel ik me herinner dat er gemakkelijker "geduzt" werd dan in "Holland". Dat is overigens ruim 25 jaar geleden.
En met Brabants bedoel ik het dialect in de Nederlandse provincie Noord-Brabant.

Mijn herinneringen aan mijn geboorteprovincie Noord-Brabant:
Hedde gij (Heb je…)?
Witte da nie? (Weet je dat niet?)
Gullie (Jullie)

Halloh, well as you know I come from Wesel and then also from Dusseldorf, I know the whole NRW. Now I noticed here in Bad Berleburg, (Southwestphalia and a few kilometers to Hesse) that it is handled here very unconventionally, it is duzt! in the supermarket at the counter and at the checkout, but then you know each other relatively by sight. (Mostly.) For me it was a change, but since I am very unconventional with preference, this manners has a positive character. Only I would like to emphasize that certain conventions are needed to maintain etiquette.

To be polite and obliging and still be on first name terms is not a contradiction for me, Frank Paul. Or is this my Dutch view on things?

Trijntje, that the English thou was the address for familiar persons, and the form you which for more formal matters can be found confirmed at Wikipedia:

" … thou was later used to express intimacy, familiarity, or even disrespect, while another pronoun, you, the oblique/objective form of ye, was used for formal circumstances."

Just for the sake of completeness I would like to mention that I personally don’t like to be called by my first name, like z.B. from the IKEA catalog. For me the you is the very natural way to deal with female colleagues as well. I worked in the hospital, there were a lot of people who were on first name terms, and I only did that with the female colleagues in my team. But I always thought that in front of the patients the doctor and the nurse should use the "Sie", everything else seemed unprofessional to me. And of course I still write "Sie" and "Du" in capital letters! It is a question of respect.
I would prefer the "Hamburger Sie" to the "Kassiererinnen-Du".
Explanation? – I was born in 1945!

Just for the sake of completeness I would like to mention that I personally do not like to be duzt, like z.B. from the IKEA catalog.

I would prefer the "Hamburger Sie" to the "Kassiererinnen-Du".
Explanation? – I was born in 1945!

I am born 1967 and I feel the first point haargenauso and the second – similar.

I hate it like the plague, when something "by default" addresses me: catalogs and especially software and websites. (Since I am on the other hand convinced OpenSource friend, I have mithin in this regard a lot to endure…)

I like the "Hamburger Sie" very much – and I wouldn’t object to the tomboyish and gruff cashier’s "Du" if it fits the situation and the social context. (However, I would probably have difficulties to address women so.)

A friend who is a teacher told me yesterday that she finds the "Hamburger Sie" especially handy in the teacher/student context.

Ik heb er geen probleem mee door wie dan ook met je te worden aangesproken (jaargang 1954).
Ik merk wel dat het steeds vaker voorkomt dat jonge mensen mij met u aanspreken.

I think, here is not so much the year of birth decisive, but rather the cultural circle, in which one grew up.

By the way, I (born in 1967, like Klaas) am more and more often called by my first name, sometimes even when I’m traveling in the Netherlands ;-)

I am also of the opinion that it is inappropriate to be addressed by advertising catalogs or the like. But, I must say that this only happens to me with German catalogs! I would find it extremely strange if the Dutch catalog would suddenly address me with "Siezen". However, I think it’s actually because of what you experience as ‘customary’, then. In addition it confuses me often in Germany if there is sometimes you, there sometimes she. Such a catalog is just a good ‘graadmeter’ (gradmesser? :)) for the average – the usual. What now? What is that? How could I ever communicate in a reasonable way??

I know there actually only the IKEA catalog and that is not necessarily a German invention, but deliberately trimmed in Swedish. There’s more?
But what comes to my mind, in former times business letters and letters from authorities always ended with "Yours faithfully", while today, fortunately, even "parking tickets" end with "Yours sincerely". While the 1. has always been the occasion for jokes, comes one the 2. at mentioned occasion sometimes before like sarcasm. Has this also changed in the Netherlands, or has it always been friendlier??

Yes, to this my contribution as a born Swabian:

in the university (Tubingen) we have always duzt us, if we spoke Swabian. With the North German students we were automatically on a first name basis, and it was a sign of friendship to say "Du".

Now for 32 years here in Cologne, however, I find it inappropriate when a colleague calls me by my first name just because he has recognized that I am also a Swabian.

I am not sure how this answer is processed. I don’t know much about blogging, but Alexandra’s blog is good.
By the way, I am also a translator (E, F, D).

Greeting Rainer Scheerer

Now for 32 years here in Cologne, however, I find it inappropriate for a colleague to call me by my first name just because he has realized that I am also a Swabian.

Would it be different if you were Swabian among yourselves??

Believe, in dialects is always more duzt than gesiezt. On Kolsch goes siezen yes almost not at all, or. sounds then so cute, that it is almost like duzen. "Kunne Se mr ens say when jelievvert weed?"Without the i you lack any sharpness and distance. Then only High German helps to keep the distance. :-)

And finally it should be noted that as children in the seventies we often addressed each other with "Du + surname". It was not considered very pretty, and only guys did it among themselves. But it was quite common.

Funny that no one had anything to say about the post noted here, which I personally feel is "lowest box" towards the police:

Yes, I am a Swabian, born in 1950, and from time to time I addressed a subordinate (my lab assistant) as "Er" ("mach Er das, aber ganz schnell"), but there was no trouble because of that. Mentally I still address people like this. I find, one should opposite z.B. reintroduce police officers, who are really from the lowest box."

I have made the experience that in the work environment it is more pleasant to be on first name terms, just as others have already commented, for reasons of distance and respect. It is easier to say "You stupid" than "You stupid". Unless one is friends with colleagues also privately. In my line of business, tourism, colleagues are mostly addressed as "Duzt", even if they don’t know each other. But since you only meet there at events or info trips, that’s totally fine. Otherwise I tend, up to my age group, also rather to the Du – whereby I write that also still large :-))))

I guess/hope that no one said anything about it, because the guy has a wheel off, as they say in Hannoverschen. :-)

Sorry, I haven’t had time yet, because I had to get all my friends out of the lowest boxes at the police station. Joking aside, what to write about such a bullshit? That disqualifies itself.

Another great article!

I got to know the working life in Germany and in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, it took some getting used to in the beginning, but I quickly got used to it. And to be honest, I like the casual "Du" much better.
I think it doesn’t matter if you say you or you, but how you treat each other.

As children we were called by our first names by the neighbors, while we called the adults by their first names. In the meantime, I have long since grown up and am still addressed by my former neighbors as "Du" and by my first name. I don’t find that bad, but I prefer the neighbors who have offered me the "Du" much better than the others!

I think it depends not on whether you say you or you, but how you deal with each other.

I see it the same way!

I just remembered the funny story of the Dutch soccer player Willi "Ente" Lippens. Maybe not everyone knows them yet. Willi Lippens played for Rot-Weiss Essen and was shown the yellow card by the German referee with the words:" I warn you". The joker Lippens answered: "Thank you" and got a red card for it. :-))

Because of the irony or the grammar mistake? ;-)

Who knows what was going on in the referee’s head there. Probably felt embarrassed.

Since I know that "u" also has something to do with respect for age, I only want to be addressed as "jij" :-).

Interesting article – and already so many comments, in which of course almost everything has already been said… My grandfather had a good friend for many years (a colleague, with whom he also went on vacation trips), whom he called by his first name all his life. My father addressed his "subordinates" in the office with their first names and "Sie" and was called "Chef" by them. I find the "Hamburger Sie" appropriate in certain situations, especially with young adults (high school students and apprentices). The change from "Du" to "Sie" (except at school, when the students have reached a certain age) I find hurtful, although the reason is often that the other person has simply forgotten that you were on first-name terms before.

Students in Germany are still called by their first name? That was 35 years ago with us from 16 and sounded at that time also already stupidly. Especially since we also had a modern music teacher whom we were supposed to be on first name basis. Here in Groningen children call their teachers by their first name or Juf (a kind of Miss) Antje. Men are Meester Jan or so. Actually a bit cashierly.

In our country it used to be the case that pupils were addressed as "Sie" from the day of their initiation into youth, i.e. when they were about 14 years old. Most of the teachers asked us whether we wanted to be called by our first names or by our last names in future. We were a bit embarrassed, because on the one hand we liked the "you" (it made us feel so grown up), but on the other hand we didn’t want to be like that. In any case, we were generous and allowed the teachers to continue to call us by our first names. There were also one or two who consistently addressed us as "you" from that day on; those were the ones who didn’t like us. And there were also a few who just kept on ducking us as if nothing had happened. We thought that was an impertinence, but nobody dared to say anything; at that time we still had respect for our teachers, not like the students nowadays.

I graduated a year ago and it was also the case that as soon as we were senior high school students (i.e. from grade 11 onwards, at the age of approx. 16 years), were addressed by many teachers. As Tina already says, we were also partly confronted with the choice. When a teacher asked us what we preferred, we usually decided unanimously that we would continue to use "Du". Of course we always called the teachers by their first names. But since then, without asking us beforehand, no teacher has ever called us by our first name again. I found that very absurd, especially since teachers, some of whom I had known for years, suddenly switched to "you.

The other perspective: For seven years I have been living as a German in The Hague and with the "Duzen" (German for "first name") is prepared. In the Netherlands it’s really a headache to use "Siezen", because in my eyes it’s regulated differently or not at all. Example: The boss of my friend. I must have seen him 20 times and talked to him (duzen)?), but he is nevertheless the boss with surely 20 years of age advantage (to be polite)?). Or my client, who likes to act like a boss (use the first name)?), but is younger than me (duzen?). In the e-mails it goes on: Some Dutch people, whom I have never met, address me as "Du" in writing from the outset. Others use the "you" or both in the second mail: geachte mevrouw Mustermann, beste Heidi. Sometimes I wonder if the German version is not easier to handle.

Hello Ulrike,
I had not yet considered that the lack of clear rules can lead to insecurity … I am curious whether other readers also feel the same way as you do.

There I am completely painless. As the saying goes, respect must be earned, pity is given as a gift. This has nothing to do with the form of address. However, with impertinent persons ("Listen, you….. u.a.) and it was no problem to ask if we had ever herded pigs together.

I think that one or even the core problem of "loose", chummy manners is named here: At some point and very quickly, you don’t know what to do anymore. In Germany, I often have to struggle with similar and very difficult problems.

(For example, I would not know how to address Ulrike Grafberger directly. :-) )

And mind you, I’m not saying that the loose, "liberal" customs are of the devil – but I don’t think they were brought to us by the angels either.

By the way, having to be on first name terms with bosses can also be a pain for the subordinate…

If the duzen is common sense, then gladly. Otherwise, I like the "you" very much, because it shows respect and you can gradually approach the "you". I once had a Dutch colleague who gave me a little insight into the behavior of the Dutch. If one grows up with the "Du" and the small, but important, gradations, then a "Du" is also accompanied by respect and is by no means a free pass for chumminess .

So, I offer you all the Du now ;-) For me it is easier if the topic is addressed directly. Then at least we know how we are addressed. And we always drank to the Du – with crossed arms and a champagne or beer glass to toast. In Germany, however, only the older may offer the you … so it was at least in the past.

Thank you very much for your "Du"; but we are already on first name basis here anyway ;-). And it is still the case today that the older one offers the Du.

Good evening, Ulrike – and hello leude… (;-)

But in Germany only the older one is allowed to offer the "Du" … at least that’s how it was in former times.

Not the older, but the higher ranked – which is usually (but by no means always) the same thing. Furthermore, an adult woman in this sense is almost always higher in rank than an adult man.

Deze website is geweldig! Ik ben eigenlijk met behulp van een taalgids van Eton Instituut om Duits te leren en ik heb veel geleerd! Misschien volgende zal ik de Nederlandse taal leren:)

Apropos Hamburg but has long been used this ‘man’ instead of ‘you’ here, z.B. "Go one and buy times about 5Kilo______!"

This Low/North German "man" does not replace the "Du", but rather a "mal": "Mach das man ruhig", "Schast Di man gor nich um kummern" ("Don’t worry about it at all"), "Schast Di man gor nich um" ("Don’t worry about it at all").")

Madness, Harki-:) Yes, I have already missed the expression, right! Thanks. I’m not a Waterkantler by birth, but come from ‘Oidd’nbuuich’ (Oldenburg near Luebeck))))

As a North German, the ‘carnival time you’ was still something striking to me, when I was in Koelle several years ago for ‘three great days’, and practically every second person, young, old, blue, drunk, etc., said ‘you’. per Du bloed angeschwatzt was!! I was then on business trip in the city and just wanted to experience my very first carnival parade. S0fort immediately it went off times with the gekuenstelten friendliness, which goes us Fischkoepfen totally against the rope. At the Geschei ‘Koelle’ alaaf!’ etc.. a local guy bumped into me and tried to cut off my tie!
Well, wonderful. Afterwards it began further with the Buettenrednern… By the end of this week, the carnival was already over; every Duzbruder had become a bad old Sie curmudgeon. IGITT!! Never again.

I think it is a certain zeitgeist that encompasses the people who are quite fast at the ‘Du’. If I feel on the same wavelength with a conversation partner, it can happen. That I change from ‘you’ to ‘you’ within a sentence. But most of the time I say something like: ‘We can also doze each other.’
The worst situation is in the pub, when the barman is 20 years younger than Sietzt. Then I feel with quite terribly old.

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