German/Level I/Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)

Lesson I.2: Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)

The dialogue of this lesson is a conversation between two persons: Franz and Mr. Schwarz. While Franz uses the formal Sie to address Mr. Schwarz, the latter uses the informal du to address Franz. We also discuss some grammar: subject pronouns and some important verbs in the present tense.



In this short dialogue Mr. Schwarz uses the informal form youdu. while Franz uses the formal translation of youSie. When listening to the dialogue, try to find out how the word Sie is pronounced.

Dialogue:   What's your name? (2nd Part) —   Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)
Franz Guten Morgen. Sind Sie Herr Weiß?
Herr Schwarz Nein, ich bin Herr Schwarz. Wie heißt du?
Franz Ich heiße Franz. Danke, Herr Schwarz. Ich bin spät dran.
Herr Schwarz Bitte, Franz. Ich bin auch spät dran. Bis später!
Franz Auf Wiedersehen!
Problems: Listen carefully!
The German pronunciation of many letters is similar to the English pronunciation, but there are also many differences. Try to answer the following question by listening carefully:
  1. How is the "ie" in "Sie" and "Wiedersehen" pronounced?
  2. How is the "ei" in "Weiß", "nein", "heißt" and "heiße" pronounced?
  3. How is the "z" in "Schwarz" and "Franz" pronounced?
  4. How is the "sch" in "Schwarz" pronounced?
  5. How is the "sp" in "spät" pronounced?
  6. How is the "ä" in "spät" pronounced?
  1. Similar to "ee" in "meet".
  2. "ei" is pronounced like "ai" in German or like the "i" in the English word "time".
  3. "z" is pronounced like "ts".
  4. "sch" is pronounced like "sh" in English.
  5. "sp" is usually pronounced like "shp".
  6. Similar to "a" in "mad".

Vocabulary:   What's your name? (2nd Part) —   Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)
(missing file: File:German Vocabulary - What's your name? (2nd Part).ogg, how to upload audio)
English German
Good morning. Guten Morgen.
you (formal) Sie
You are... (formal) Sie sind ...
Are you...? (formal) Sind Sie ...?
no nein
late spät
I am late. Ich bin spät dran.
You're welcome. Bitte.
also auch
later später
See you later. Bis später.
Problems: Working with the dialogue
  1. Translate the dialogue to English with the help of the list of vocabulary.
  2. Listen to the recording without reading and try to understand the meaning of the words. If you cannot remember some words, look them up and start again.
  3. Read the dialogue aloud. Compare your pronunciation with the pronunciation of the recording.
  4. Listen to the recording without reading and write down the dialogue in German. Pause the playback after each sentence to write down what you have heard. Repeat this exercise until you know the spelling of the German words.
  1. Translation to English:
    Franz: Good morning. Are you Mr. Weiß?
    Mr. Schwarz: No, I'm Mr. Schwarz. What's your name?
    Franz: My name's Franz. Thank you, Mr. Schwarz. I'm late.
    Mr. Schwarz: You're welcome, Franz. I'm also late. See you!
    Franz: Goodbye!

Sie and du


Why is Franz using the formal form of youSie while Mr. Schwarz is using the informal of youdu?

First of all you should realize that Franz addresses Mr. Schwarz with his last name while Mr. Schwarz addresses Franz with his first name. This is probably the most important rule: if you (would) address someone with his or her last name, you should use the formal Sie. On the other hand, if you are using the first name, you should use du. Anything else would sound funny.

Sie is the polite form. It is used when speaking with foreign people, and in order to testify respect against the interlocutor, for people you would address with Mr and Mrs.

So, when do Germans address other people with their first name and say du?

  • Some cases are very clear: children, relatives, and friends are always addressed with du. (Mr. Schwarz uses du because Franz is still a child. Otherwise Mr. Schwarz would either use Sie or Franz would also use du.)
  • Students (at universities etc.) usually say du to other students and everyone else who is of their age or younger.
  • The situation is not so clear for colleagues in companies. Fortunately, there is another rule for grown-ups: any two grown-ups address each other in the same way, either with du or Sie, but never does only one of them use du and the other Sie. Thus, if in doubt, you can just copy how the other person addresses you.
  • In all other situations you should use Sie. If a German thinks that it would be more appropriate to say du, he or she will be happy to suggest to use du. On the other hand, it is almost always considered impolite to go from du to Sie; thus, you shouldn't put someone in a position where he or she wants to suggest to use Sie instead of du.
  • Note that mostly the polite form is easier to use. You just have to learn a few forms of auxiliary and modal verbs. The main verb is usually the infinitive. With the familiar address you unfortunately have to consider many more irregular verbs.

Subject Pronouns


A noun is a word that describes a thing or being, e.g. "apple", "woman", "man", etc. Pronouns are the little words that refer to previously mentioned nouns, e.g. "it", "she", "he", or even "we", "him", etc.

The subject of a sentence is the noun or pronoun that the sentence is about. Usually it is the most active thing or being of the sentence. For example, in the sentence "The woman ate an apple.", both "woman" and "apple" are nouns, but "woman" is the subject of the sentence because the sentence is about the action performed by the woman. (If you are curious: "apple" is the direct object of the sentence.)

If we replace the nouns of the example by pronouns, the sentence becomes: "She ate it." In this example, "she" and "it" are pronouns. The subject of this sentence is the pronoun "she" and therefore this kind of pronoun is called a subject pronoun.

Now that you know about the English subject pronouns, here is a table of them with their German counterparts. Note that you corresponds to three different words in German, depending on whether you address one or more persons and whether you are using a more formal or more familiar way of addressing them.

Grammar:   Subject Pronouns —   Subjekt-Pronomina
English German
singular 1st person I ich
2nd person you du, Sie*
3rd person he, she, it er, sie, es
plural 1st person we wir
2nd person you ihr, Sie*
3rd person they sie

*Sie is the formal (polite) version of du and ihr.

Problems: Subject pronouns
Try to translate these English pronouns to German:
  1. we
  2. they
  3. he
  4. you
  5. I
  6. you (formal)
  7. it
  8. you guys
  9. she
  1. wir
  2. sie
  3. er
  4. du
  5. ich
  6. Sie (Make sure it's capitalized!)
  7. es
  8. ihr
  9. sie



To say the name of someone or something you can use to be calledheißen. You have already seen some forms of the verb heißen. Here is a more systematic table with all the forms in the present tense. Note that the subject pronouns are capitalized because they start the sentences.

Grammar:   Names —   Namen
English German
My name is... Ich heiße ...
His/Her/Its name is... Er/Sie/Es heißt ...
Their names are... Sie heißen ...
Our names are... Wir heißen ...
Your name is... Du heißt ...
Your names are... Ihr heißt ...
What is your name? Wie heißt du?*
What are your names? Wie heißt ihr?*

*Remember, the formal way to ask someone's name is to ask Wie heißen Sie?

Note: There are possessive pronouns (e.g. "my", "your", "his", her", ...) in German, they just don't apply here. For instance, native speakers usually don't say Mein Name ist ... (My name is...).

Problems: Names
Translate to German:
  1. Hello. My name is ____ (put your name here).
  2. What is your name?
  3. My name is Iris.
  4. What is his name?
  5. His name is Andreas.
  6. What are their names?
  7. Their names are Gerd and Udo.
  8. Her name is Eda.
  9. Its name is Mensch-ärger-dich-nicht. (This is a popular board game in Germany.)
  1. Hallo. Ich heiße ____.
  2. Wie heißt du? / Wie heißen Sie?
  3. Ich heiße Iris.
  4. Wie heißt er?
  5. Er heißt Andreas.
  6. Wie heißen sie?
  7. Sie heißen Gerd und Udo.
  8. Sie heißt Eda.
  9. Es heißt Mensch-ärger-dich-nicht.

Important Verbs


Verbs are the words that describe the action of a sentence, e.g. (to) run, (to) call, (to) be, etc. Conjugation refers to changing the form of a verb depending on the subject of a sentence. For example, the verb to besein has several different forms: (I) am..., (you) are..., (he) is..., etc. Most English verbs, however, have only two forms in the present tense, e.g., (I/you/we/they) run and (he/she/it) runs. German verbs, on the other hand, have usually several forms in the present tense.

You have already learned the forms of one German verb: to be calledheißen.

Verb:   to be called —   heißen
English German
singular 1st person I am called ich heiße
2nd person you are called du heißt
3rd person he/she/it is called er/sie/es heißt
plural 1st person we are called wir heißen
2nd person you are called ihr heißt
3rd person they are called sie heißen*

*The form of verbs for you (polite)Sie is exactly the same as for the plural, 3rd person pronoun theysie.

Two extremely common verbs are to besein and to havehaben. They are conjugated like this:

Verb:   to be —   sein
English German
singular 1st person I am ich bin
2nd person you are du bist
3rd person he/she/it is er/sie/es ist
plural 1st person we are wir sind
2nd person you are ihr seid
3rd person they are sie sind*

*Don't forget that the form for you (polite)Sie is the same as for the plural, 3rd person pronoun theysie.

Verb:   to have —   haben
English German
singular 1st person I have ich habe
2nd person you have du hast
3rd person he/she/it has er/sie/es hat
plural 1st person we have wir haben
2nd person you have ihr habt
3rd person they have sie haben*

*This is also the form for you (polite)Sie.

Problems: Verbs
Practice pronouncing the verbs above and making sure they correspond with the proper person. List all of the various forms which you have learned.

1. heißen

  • (ich) heiße
  • (du/er/sie/es/ihr) heißt
  • (wir/sie/Sie) heißen

2. sein

  • (ich) bin
  • (du) bist
  • (er/sie/es) ist
  • (wir/sie/Sie) sind
  • (ihr) seid

3. haben

  • (ich) habe
  • (du) hast
  • (er/sie/es) hat
  • (wir/sie/Sie) haben
  • (ihr) habt



The test consists of three parts: grammar, vocabulary, and translation. The grammar part is about conjugation; i.e., different forms of verbs for different subject pronouns. The vocabulary and translation problems are all from English to German because this is what you have to learn if you want to communicate in German.

Problems: Grammar
Translate the following phrases using the correct forms of to be called — heißen, to be — sein, and to have — haben.
  1. you have (plural, formal)
  2. we are
  3. you are called (singular, formal)
  4. she is
  5. we have
  6. he is called
  7. you are (singular, formal)
  8. you have (singular, informal)
  9. he has
  10. you are (plural, formal)
  11. they are called
  12. I am
  13. you are (singular, informal)
  14. it is called
  15. he is
  16. it has
  17. we are called
  18. it is
  19. you are (plural, informal)
  20. you have (plural, informal)
  21. I am called
  22. they are
  23. she is called
  24. I have
  25. you are called (plural, formal)
  26. you have (singular, formal)
  27. she has
  28. you are called (singular, informal)
  29. they have
  30. you are called (plural, informal)
  1. Sie haben
  2. wir sind
  3. Sie heißen
  4. sie ist
  5. wir haben
  6. er heißt
  7. Sie sind
  8. du hast
  9. er hat
  10. Sie sind
  11. sie heißen
  12. ich bin
  13. du bist
  14. es heißt
  15. er ist
  16. es hat
  17. wir heißen
  18. es ist
  19. ihr seid
  20. ihr habt
  21. ich heiße
  22. sie sind
  23. sie heißt
  24. ich habe
  25. Sie heißen
  26. Sie haben
  27. sie hat
  28. du heißt
  29. sie haben
  30. ihr heißt

Problems: Vocabulary
Translate from English to German:
  1. we
  2. no
  3. you (plural, formal)
  4. she
  5. late
  6. you (singular, formal)
  7. you're welcome
  8. I
  9. you (singular, informal)
  10. yes
  11. they
  12. also
  13. it
  14. you (plural, informal)
  15. later
  16. he
  1. wir
  2. nein
  3. Sie
  4. sie
  5. spät
  6. Sie
  7. bitte
  8. ich
  9. du
  10. ja
  11. sie
  12. auch
  13. es
  14. ihr
  15. später
  16. er

Problems: Translation
Translate from English to German:
  1. Good evening! Are you Franz?
  2. Good evening. Yes, I'm Franz. Are you Susanne?
  3. No, my name is Sabine. I'm late. See you later!
  4. Bye!
  1. Guten Abend! Bist du Franz?
  2. Guten Abend. Ja, ich bin Franz. Bist du Susanne?
  3. Nein, ich heiße Sabine. Ich bin spät dran. Bis später!
  4. Tschüss!

(edit template)   Level I Lessons (discussion)

  I.0 Introduction

Section I.A:   I.1 Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)  I.2 Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)  I.3 Bitte buchstabieren Sie  Review Section I.A

Section I.B:   I.4 Freizeit  I.5 Geburtstag  I.6 Essen  Review Section I.B

Section I.C:   I.7 Kleidung  I.8 Familie und Nationalität  I.9 Schule  Review Section I.C

Section I.D:   I.10 Das Fest  I.11 Privileg und Verantwortung  I.12 Wetter  Review Section I.D

Section I.E:   I.13 Zu Hause essen  I.14 Filme  I.15 Das Haus  Review Section I.E