Hilf mir, I'm learning German


Hello CoG, I decided that since I know there a couple german speakers here on this forum, I’d ask them for help along my quest to learn the language. So this can be a thread where either I post questions, or some other people having trouble with the language can post questions. And others, who have similar questions can find their answers.

To start this thread off I have this question to ask. How do you tell when you are supposed to say Sie, or Du to a person.
For example, why is it, “Sie sind cool”, and not “Du bist cool.”
I can’t quite tell yet, so help will be appreciated. :stuck_out_tongue:


why nobody want learn Spanish ? :frowning:
edit: if want learn Spanish do a post I help but this is for Germans learners


@MaraJade I do! I’m just lazy.


i want to learn some swear words in Spanish so i can say it to my friends


@Marajade, in the USA, Spanish is the second most learnt language!


“Sie sind” is a more formal form of the familiar “du bist”.

So “du bist cool” is what you want to say to a friend and “sie sind cool” is what you would say to someone you don’t know well.

I know a lot of languages, but I’m not fluent in anything, including my native Spanish. :frowning:


@CS_Closet Thanks a lot. I may have more questions however.


@CS_Closet I always assumed you were from the UK/USA! Your posts and your game are so well written, I just thought your first language was English…

I know a tiny bit of German, not enough to be really useful though…


I feel I should add that the difference between “Sie” and “Du” can be tricky. As a general rule, someone you don’t know, (or) is your superior (business) or your elder is called “Sie” until that person tells you otherwise. It is considered bad form if you offer the “Du” first or call the other person that outright. On the other hand, if the other person is younger and/or your subordinate, the right to offer the less formal “Du” lies with you.
Outside of formal settings that concept is not viewed as strict and if you go into the private settings it is usually the “Du” from the start.

And to make it even harder, that concept can completely change depending on the region your in. If you compare Berlin to Munich you can assume that in Berlin you will usually be called “Du” right from the start while it can be a long way till there if you are in Munich. I know colleagues who, after working literally decades with each other, still remain with the formal “Sie”.

On a side note, if you call someone “Sie” you always use their last name and with the “Du” it’s always their first name.

Welcome to the extremely easy world of learning German :wink:

Oh, and as for the example “Sie sind cool”: You’d have to have a very good relationship with your colleague/boss to pull that off without earning yourself strange looks.
It is not something usually said if you are still at “Sie” :wink:


@Nasdaxow Lol, thanks for the clarification.

Anyways, I have a new question. How do you determine when to say nicht and when to say kein. I can’t seem to figure out the difference yet. For example, “Habe kein angst.” compared to “Habe nicht angst.” Why can’t you say nicht there instead? and what are the terms for saying kein and nicht. I’m not sure, but I may not understand “nicht” fully yet, lol. Help appreciated.


Interesting. Re locality I always wondered if it’s got anything to do with which area was once east/west back in the Wall era. Also, is there any other variants of how people speak/use German outside the native country? (Austria and Switzerland come to mind) I know a French dude who said he doesn’t quite understand what a song lyrics say in Canadian French because it’s been rather different from what/how people speak it in the Europe.

The Spanish language is pretty huge in California methinks. I suspect some people on this forum live in the west coast and would know better about it. From what I know people are normally using it on casual occasions.

Btw @TIYF, is “du bist cool” supposed to mean what I think it means? Thought there would be a completely different, German word for “cool”?


From what I understand, “nicht” is what you use when you’re negating a specific thing (the tree, my pen, Anna), or when you’re negating something that isn’t a noun. “Kein” is used for a general thing or idea (a tree, fear).

I’ve also heard “nicht ein” being used in place of “kein”, but I’m not sure if it’s just something for emphasis or what. Anyone know?

Also @TIYF, how are you learning German (formal classes, self-study, from the media)?

Thank you, but it only looks that way because of my heavy use of spell-check, dictionary.com, and grammar reference sites. Being stuck in an English-speaking country for over a decade probably doesn’t hurt, either. :stuck_out_tongue:


Self study, but I haven’t taught myself anything for a bit, I know I’m do for another lesson. Lol, I’m just asking things I’ve begun to slightly understand, but still confuse me.

Canadian people have a terribly strange accent in the french language, that most french people think sounds stupid or is hard to understand. That may be why. And yes, I’m pretty sure “cool” is german for “cool”. Gotta love those cognates.


“On a side note, if you call someone “Sie” you always use their last name and with the “Du” it’s always their first name.”

…eh…not allways.
In some German dialects that does not have to be that way.

“I’ve also heard “nicht ein” being used in place of “kein”, but I’m not sure if it’s just something for emphasis or what. Anyone know?”

I do:
“nicht ein” is like “not a single”.
So, yes, it’s an emphasis.


As a general rule, you use “kein” for nouns and “nicht” for everything else (verbs, adjectives and prepositions). “Ich habe keine Ahnung” (I don’t know), “Ich habe keine Angst” (I’m not afraid), instead of “Ich weiß es nicht” (I don’t know) or “Ich fürchte mich nicht” (I’m not afraid).
In the example you mentioned the “Habe nicht Angst” is actually wrong. In that phrase you always have to use “keine” since it is with a noun (Angst / Fear).

While there still are differences between former East- and West-Germany, language is not one of them, or at least not because of the wall. Every region has it’s own dialect and there are discernible differences from which you can tell where someone is from, but that goes for the whole of Germany and is no different to just about every other country.
The difference I mentioned is just a difference in mentality. Comparing Munich (or rather the rest of Bavaria since Munich is a special case) to Berlin is like comparing Texas to Seattle, though not as extreme :wink:

The German in Austria and Switzerland is different to that in Germany. Whereas Austria is relatively similar and you can talk with them without difficulties, the Swiss-German has more differences and, depending on the region (again), I can only pick out words from what they are saying and otherwise just stare at them and wonder how they can talk like that :smiley:

Regarding “cool”, that got adapted from English and is used with the same meaning.

You can substitute “kein” with “nicht ein”, whereas it is purely for emphasis. For example: “Er hat keinen Fehler gemacht” (He didn’t make a mistake) and “Er hat nicht einen Fehler gemacht” (He didn’t make a single mistake).

In some cases yes, but I figured going into the differences of dialects would be a little overboard for someone who’s just starting with German :slight_smile:
(Well, it’s hard for Germans. I remember that poor guy from Hamburg who came to the rural Niederbayern. He had an extremely hard time to understand the local dialect :smiley: )


Schmetterling: butterfly
Only german i really know


Here’s one german word you can’t forget: Nein AKA no


@Ioelet @Nasdaxow
Thank you both for clarifying that for me. It has confused me for years. :frowning:


“Ich fürchte mich nicht” (I’m not afraid).

Can you explain the sentence structure there. Why do you mention yourself twice “Ich” “mich”


The first one, “ich”, makes it a statement about yourself. “Fürchte mich nicht” without the personal reference makes it a general statement to others (Don’t be afraid of me). In the same way, changing the personal reference to “Du” as in “Du fürchtest mich nicht” makes it statement or question about the one your talking to (You are not afraid of me).

The second, “mich”, refers to the one your talking about, in this case yourself.
Changing it to “Ich fürchte dich nicht” again refers to the one your talking to and means “I’m not afraid of you”. Leaving the reference (“Ich fürchte nicht”) makes it a general statement, though that one is an outdated way of saying “I’m not afraid” and is highly dependent on the context. Usually it’s translated as “I’m afraid not” for when you want to politely deny a question (as in “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that”).