German word of the day: Per du

Nele Schröder
Nele Schröder - [email protected]
German word of the day: Per du
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

No, this is not the German version of the French word “perdu” (“lost”).It means something entirely different.


If you are learning German, chances are very high that you struggled with the way of addressing people in German. 

To be more precise – when to address people with “Sie” or “du.” Don’t worry, you’re not the only one struggling with that; there are actually many people with German as their mother tongue who don’t really know what to do.

So if you meet someone new – let’s say it’s a woman and her name is Anna Blume – then you start of with calling her “Frau Blume.”

You might ask her “Möchten Sie einen Tee, Frau Blume?” (“Would you like some tea, Ms. Blume?”)

If everything goes well and you get along, at some point she might say “Darf ich Ihnen das Du anbieten?” (literally: “May I offer you “The You”?” – “May I offer you to address me informally?”)

With offering you “The You,” she is asking you if you want to move on from normal acquaintances to good acquaintances. If you say yes, you and Anna are per du.

You are now allowed to call her Anna and change your former question to “Anna, möchtest du einen Tee?” (“Anna, would you like some tea?”)

The verb for being per du is duzen, which doesn’t have a literal translation, but basically means “to address someone informally.”

Be careful with the du, though. Even though it starts getting more and more popular to address everyone informally (especially in big cities like Vienna, and even in the smallest of towns), many people (especially elderly folk) consider it to be rude if you just walk up to them and call them “du.”



Mein Arzt und ich sind per du.

My doctor and I are addressing each other informally.

Dann hat sie mir das Du angeboten.

She offered me to address her informally.

Wir? Ja, wir duzen uns.

Us? Yeah, we address each other informally.



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Anonymous 2019/03/29 18:06
I’ve normally found the best way to break the ice is to use Du in a casual situation when you know someone really well. Then apologise and see how the other side reacts. Normally It’s offered back to you.

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