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LESSON NOTES

Beginner #1
Are you Michaela Wucher?

CONTENTS
2 Formal German
2 English
2 Informal German
3 English
3 Vocabulary
4 Sample Sentences
4 Grammar
5 Cultural Insight

# 1
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FORMAL GERMAN

1. John: Entschuldigung! Sind Sie “Michaela Wucher”?

2. Michaela: Nein, ich bin nicht “Michaela Wucher”. Wer sind Sie?

3. John: Ich bin John Williams. Ich bin aus Pennsylvania...

4. Michaela: Ahhh! Sie sind John Williams! Ich bin “Michaela Wucher”, but it is
pronounced Michaela Wucher.

5. John: Oh, Entschuldigung!

ENGLISH

1. John: Excuse me! Are you Michaela Wucher?

2. Michaela: No, I am not “Michaela Wucher”. Who are you?

3. John: I am John Williams. I am from Pennsylvania...

4. Michaela: Ahhh! You are John Williams! I am “Michaela Wucher”, but it is


pronounced Michaela Wucher.

5. John: Oh, sorry!

INFORMAL GERMAN

1. John: ’tschuldigung! Bist du "Michaela Wucher“?

2. Michaela: Nein, ich bin nicht “Michaela Wucher”. Wer bist du?

CONT'D OVER

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3. John: Ich bin John Williams. Ich bin aus Pennsylvania...

4. Michaela: Ahhh! Du bist John Williams! Ich bin “Michaela Wucher”, but it is
pronounced Michaela Wucher.

5. John: Oh, Entschuldigung!

ENGLISH

1. John: Excuse me! Are you Michaela Wucher?

2. Michaela: No, I am not “Michaela Wucher”. Who are you?

3. John: I am John Williams. I am from Pennsylvania...

4. Michaela: Ahhh! You are John Williams! I am “Michaela Wucher”, but it is


pronounced Michaela Wucher.

5. John: Oh, sorry!

VOCABULARY

Ge r man English C lass Ge nde r

apology, excuse me,


Entschuldigung I’m sorry noun feminine

Sie you (formal) personal pronoun

personal pronoun;
ich I nominative

wer who interrogative

sein to be verb

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nein no particle

nicht not adverb

aus from preposition

SAMPLE SENTENCES

Ich n e h m e d i e En tsch u l d i g u n g a n . H a be n Si e e i n e a n d e re Kre d i tka rte ?

I accept the apology. Do you have another credit card?

Si e si n d H e rr Sm i th . Ich h a tte l e tz te Wo ch e so vi e l z u
tu n !
You are Mr. Smith.
I was so busy last week!

Ich bi n L i sa . We r i st d a s?

I am Lisa. Who is that?

Ich bi n a u s D e u tsch l a n d . Es i st e i n e Ka m e ra .

I am from Germany. It's a camera.

N e i n , i ch bi n n i ch t a u s Kö l n . D a s h a be i ch n i ch t g e sa g t!

No, I am not from Cologne. I didn't say that!

D u bi st n i ch t m e i n Va te r! Ko m m st d u a u s Be rl i n o d e r vo n
a u ße rh a l b?
You aren't my father!
Do you come from Berlin or from
elsewhere?

Ich bi n a u s D e u tsch l a n d .

I am from Germany.

GRAMMAR

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In this lesson, you have seen a generous amount of “ich bin” (I am) and “Sie sind” (you are,
formal). If you have access to the extra material, you have even heard “du bist”, the informal
equivalent of “Sie sind”. All of these are forms of the verb “sein” (to be), which is irregular in
German, just like in English.

Here is a table with all the present tense forms:

se i n to be

ich bin I am

du bist you are (informal)

er ist / sie ist / es ist he is / she is / it is

wir sind we are

ihr seid you are (plural)

sie sind / Sie sind they are / you are (formal)

As you can see, the formal “Sie sind” (you are) is the same form as “sie sind” (they are),
except for the capital letter that indicates respect. The formal form in German will always
correspond to the “they” form (3rd person plural).

Some examples of this very useful verb in action: Ich bin Michael. – I am Michael. Du bist
schön. – You are pretty. Er ist Student. – He is a student. Sie ist aus England. – She is from
England. Es ist nicht gut. – It is not good. Wir sind Freunde. – We are friends. Seid ihr bereit? –
Are you ready? Wer sind sie? – Who are they? Wer sind Sie? – Who are you (formal) ?

CULTURAL INSIGHT

Use “Entschuldigung” as the equivalent of either “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry”, for example
when:

* getting somebody’s attention


* trying to move through a crowd, thus asking them to step aside
* stepping on somebody’s foot
* really screwing up (in that case you’d use further expressions in addition to just
“Entschuldigung”)

D o n o t sa y i t when somebody tells you sad news. Germans do not apologize for things that

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are not their fault, such as a friend not getting a job. Rather, you’d express encouragement
there. In severe cases however, such as somebody’s mother being sent to the hospital, you
can say “Es tut mir leid” (It pains me; I am chagrined) as a way of commiserating.

The formality of the conversation may seem a bit odd to you, seeing that John and Michaela
have known each other through e-mail, but John wasn’t absolutely sure he was talking to
Michaela and so he had to make sure he was being polite to this stranger. Using informal
language on this occasion already would have been like saying “Hey you, are you
Michaela?” and would probably have provoked an annoyed reaction. Especially older people
are very sensitive when it comes to how you address them, because they expect to be shown
respect, and using formal language is the easiest way of saying “I respect you” in German.
That is why sometimes even people who have known each other for a long time use ‘formal’
language with each other.

Generally, you should only use informal language with a new acquaintance if:

* you are talking to somebody under 18


* you and the person you’re talking with are both around student age
* you and the person you’re talking with are relatives

In all other cases, you should wait till you are asked to switch to informal language – it’s up to
the older person or the one higher in rank to do so or not. Your boss or teacher will certainly
never ask you, as that would diminish his authority in the eyes of everybody. However, even
regular acquaintances don’t switch to using first names nearly as quickly as they do in the
USA. If you just start by addressing a stranger informally, he may feel offended as you seem
to treat him like a child. That being said, as a foreigner you certainly have some leeway in
case you should forget.

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