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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: What are the differences between du, dich, Sie, and Ihnen?
Lowercase du means “you” informally and dich means “yourself” or “you” as the direct object. Capital Sie means “you” formally and Ihnen is “you” as the formal, indirect object.
Let’s go over du and Sie first. Du is used to address children and teenagers up to the age of 16 as well as family and friends. Sie is used to address adults you don’t know well in addition to teachers, bosses, colleagues, and everybody you come in contact with as part of a business transaction.
Let’s do some examples so you understand the differences between du, dich, Sie and Ihnen more easily.
The expression Freust du dich auf den Urlaub? which means, “Are you looking forward to the vacation?” comes from the verb sich freuen meaning “to be glad,” or “to be happy.” it's a reflexive verb and the pronoun sich changes according to the subject. For example, ich freue mich which means, “I am happy,” or “I am glad.” Du freust dich would be “You're happy,” and er freut sich would be “He's happy.”
Freust du dich auf den Urlaub? is a common question especially around school holidays. Teachers might ask this to the children in their class or friends might ask each other if they’ve booked a vacation somewhere.
Another sample sentence is Geht es Ihnen gut? which means, “Are you well?” This is used to address someone formally and ask how they feel. It's not to be confused with the standard greeting, Wie geht es Ihnen? meaning, “How are you?” Geht es Ihnen gut? would be used if you notice someone looks like they're not feeling well or might be in trouble.
A final example is Gehen Sie, wenn es Ihnen nicht passt which literally means, “If you're not okay with it, leave.” This sentence uses both Sie and Ihnen. Gehen Sie is the formal imperative “leave” and jemandem nicht passen “to not fit someone” is a common expression used to describe a piece of clothing that doesn’t work on someone. For example, Das Kleid passt mir nicht. “The dress doesn’t fit me.” It’s also used in non-ideal situations, such as, Morgen passt mir nicht. meaning, “Tomorrow is not good for me.”
There are two common phrases using du and Sie and dich and Ihnen respectively. The first one is was machst du? informally or was machen Sie? formally, both meaning, “What are you doing?” The other phrase is, Wie geht es dir? informally and Wie geht es Ihnen? formally, both meaning, “How are you?”
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”