I used to travel to the Brandenburg countryside once a week, where I'd take a taxi to the company I worked in. It was always the same driver, an older man from Ludwigsfelde, and we'd always have a little bit of small talk during the 15 minute journey, using the formal 'Sie'. But I remember feeling alarmed when I accidentally blurted out: "Wie geht es dir?" (the informal way to say: How are you? using the dative of du) after a few weeks. I apologized and quickly repeated the question again, the formal way: "Wie geht es Ihnen?" The driver, thankfully, didn't comment on my minor faux pas. You can’t grasp a new language without getting words wrong and feeling embarrassed: it’s how you learn. But getting to grips with the etiquette of a language is a whole different ball game. In German, knowing when to use ‘du’ and when to say ‘Sie’ is a tricky business. And it’s even hard for native German speakers to decide what to use. Are … [Read more...] about To du or not to du: How do you crack one of Germany’s most tricky etiquette dilemmas?