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Der Imperativ

The German imperative mood, or command form, can be very difficult or very easy depending on whom you are addressing. This week, we'll look at some various examples from Yabla German to highlight what you'll need to keep in mind. 

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For a person or group of people that you would address as Sie, the command form is quite easy. You will simply say the root of the verb with -en added (in most cases this will be identical to the infinitive) followed by Sie:

 

Nehmen Sie bitte Platz, Frau Sonntag.

Please have a seat, Ms. Sonntag.

Caption 35, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung - Part 1

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Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.

Please, be completely silent now.

Caption 60, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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For a group of people you would address as ihr, you will simply use the present tense conjugation. The subject ihr, however, is no longer included in the sentence. 

 

Gebt mir die schönen Sätze. Jacob beginnt.

Give me the [your] nice sentences. Jacob will begin.

Caption 20, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen - Part 5

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The most difficult imperative sentences to form are those for people you would refer to as du, because there are several different patterns they can follow depending on the characteristics of the verb. For weak verbs, the form will be the verb's stem, although an  "e" is added to the end with certain consonants. For strong verbs, the imperative will take into account any changes to the root that occur. In any case, du does not usually appear in the sentence. 

 

Atme ganz tief ein

Breathe in very deeply

Caption 43, Christina Stürmer - Wir leben den Moment

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Aber schau mal hier.

But look here.

Caption 23, Bubble Beatz - Supertalente vom Schrottplatz

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Vergiss es! Das wird nicht passieren.“

"Forget it! It won't happen."

Caption 74, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hans mein Igel

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Sei ruhig, Findus, ich bin ja noch gar nicht aufgestanden.

Be quiet, Findus, I indeed haven't gotten up yet at all.

 

Komm, bleib kurz stehen, nimm meine Hand

Come, stand still for a brief moment, take my hand

Caption 5, Michelle - Paris

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Further Learning

 

For more information on the du imperative, look at this website or this website. If you wish to make flashcards, use the second column of the table on this page, which shows the du imperative for a number of common strong verbs. 

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Pluralis Majestatis or the "Royal We" in German

The "royal we" form is mostly found today in fairy tales, medieval fiction, and fantasy literature such as "The Lord of the Rings" and "Game of Thrones." In centuries past, it was common for royalty and religious leaders to be referred to (and to refer to themselves) in the plural tense, based upon the conceit that, in referring to themselves, they were referring to "God and I." German uses the Latin term Pluralis Majestatis to denote the "royal we."

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This obsolete form of personal pronoun does not present any grammatical problems in English, since it is commonly either rendered in modern English as "we" or "you" (in the plural sense), or in archaic English as thee, thou, thine etc., although these forms are also merely archaic and not necessarily reflecting the "royal we" form.

 

In German, however, the use of "royal we" can be initially perplexing. For the nominative second person singular pronoun, instead of the modern Sie (you), the "royal we" form uses Ihr, with the Ihr always capitalized. Initially this may appear to be the same as the plural pronoun ihr, but is actually addressed to a single person:

 

Majestät, Ihr [Pluralis Majestatis] seid die Schönste hier.

Majesty, you are the most beautiful here.

Caption 86, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Schneewittchen

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In standard German, the above sentence would have been written: Sie sind die Schönste hier. The "royal we" case Ihr conjugates the verb the same as the plural nominative second person pronoun ihr.

 

The accusative second person singular pronoun Sie (you), in a similar fashion, uses for the "royal we" form of the capitalized version of the accusative second person plural Euch:

 

Ich befreie Euch [Pluralis Majestatis] von dem Versprechen, Prinzessin!

I free you from the promise, Princess!

Caption 58, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hans mein Igel

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In standard German, the above sentence would have been written: Ich befreie Sie von dem Versprechen.

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Further Learning
To further familiarize yourself with the use of the "royal we," go through the videos (listed on the right hand side of this lesson) on Yabla German that include extensive examples of Pluralis Majestatis.

 

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