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1.4 Conversations: Greetings! Includes sound files!

In the office
Here are two conversations which practise the difference between formal and informal greetings. Pay particular attention to the different greetings which are used in the different contexts.

In our first conversation, Frau Müller meets her boss Doctor Schmidt as he comes in for work in the morning. Even though they have worked together for some time, they still use the formal "Sie" to address each other. Click here or on the sound icon below to listen to their conversation.

Herr Doktor Schmidt     Click here to listen to the conversation!

Guten Morgen!
    Frau Müller
Herr Dr. Schmidt Guten Morgen, Frau Müller.
Frau Müller Guten Morgen, Herr Doktor Schmidt. Wie geht es Ihnen?
Herr Dr. Schmidt Sehr gut, danke. Und Ihnen?
Frau Müller Leider nicht sehr gut.
Herr Dr. Schmidt Oh, das tut mir Leid.
Frau Müller Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Doktor Schmidt.
Herr Dr. Schmidt Auf Wiedersehen.

das Büro  The office 
im Büro  In the office
Herr  Mister 
Frau  "Frau" is the title used for both maried and single women and approximates to the English Ms., Mrs. or Miss.
Wie geht es Ihnen?  "How are you?" As this is an office environment, the formal version is used.
Sehr gut, danke.  "Very well, thank you". This is short for "Mir geht es sehr gut, danke" ("I'm very well, thank you"), which you could also say at this point.
Und Ihnen? "And you?" This is short for: "Und wie geht es Ihnen?", which you could also say in full if you wished.
Leider nicht sehr gut.  "Not so good." The word "leider" on its own means "unfortunately".
Oh, das tut mir Leid.  "Oh, I'm sorry." As in English, this can mean that you are sorry to hear something or sorry because of something that you have done.

Information1. In German, people greet each other by name more often than we do in English-speaking countries. If someone is a doctor of any kind, this title immediately follows "Herr" or "Frau" - e.g. "Herr Doktor Schmidt", or "Frau Professor Meyer". As a general rule, you should avoid using first names in formal circumstances, unless you are speaking to a child.

2. The formal use of Fräulein to translate "Miss" is outdated and should be avoided, not least because the literal translation of Fräulein is "little woman"! You should instead use Frau.

3. Asking how someone is is normally a mere conversational formality, and the correct response is some form of "Fine thanks!" (see above). Compared to Anglo-Saxon countries however, asking about somebody's health is a comparatively private question in Germany, and on a bad day the person asked may give you a detailed run-down on his or her precise state of health!

At the station
In our second conversation, schoolfriends Michael and Franz bump into each at the station and briefly exchange greetings. They naturally use the informal "du" to address each other.

Michael Tag, Franz.
Franz Hallo, Michael. Wie geht es dir?
Michael Gut, danke. Und dir?
Franz Prima, danke.
Michael Tschüs.
Franz Tschüs. Bis später.

Am Bahnhof

der Bahnhof  The station 
am Bahnhof  At the station
Wie geht es dir?  "How are you?" As these are two young friends who are meeting, they use the informal "du" form.
Gut, danke Well, thank you
Prima, danke "Great, thank you". The word "prima" should really only be used in informal contexts. Again, you could also say "Mir geht es prima, danke" at this point.

Weiter!Chapter 1.5: Introducing yourself

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