Languages › German How to Speak About the Family in German Share Flipboard Email Print Hero Images/Getty Images German Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar By Hyde Flippo German Expert Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture. our editorial process Hyde Flippo Updated February 21, 2020 Learning how to ask about someone's name or inquire about the family in German is a great way to get to know people. Even if you just want to learn to make small talk, these kinds of questions will come up in most conversations. It's important to remember that rules for addressing people in German tend to be stricter than in many other cultures, so learning the proper rules will help prevent you from being unintentionally rude. Below are some common questions and answers in German and English. Die Familie • The FamilyContinued Fragen & Antworten - Questions & Answers Wie ist Ihr Name? - What's your name? Deutsch Englisch Wie heißen Sie? What's your name? (formal) Ich heiße Braun. My name is Braun. (formal, last name) Wie heißt du? What's your name? (familiar) Ich heiße Karla. My name is Karla. (familiar, first name) Wie heißt er/sie? What's his/her name? Er heißt Jones. His name is Jones. (formal) Geschwister? - Siblings? Haben Sie Geschwister? Do you have any brothers or sisters? Ja, ich habe einen Bruder und eine Schwester. Yes, I have a / one brother and a / one sister. Notice that you add - en to ein when you say you have a brother, and an - e for a sister. We'll discuss the grammar for this in a future lesson. For now, just learn this as vocabulary. Nein, ich habe keine Geschwister. No, I don't have any brothers or sisters. Ja, ich habe zwei Schwestern. Yes, I have two sisters. Wie heißt dein Bruder? What's your brother's name? Er heißt Jens. His name is Jens. (informal) Wie alt? - How old? Wie alt ist dein Bruder? How old is your brother? Er ist zehn Jahre alt. He is ten years old. Wie alt bist du? How old are you? (fam.) Ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt. I'm twenty years old. YOU: du - Sie As you study the vocabulary for this lesson, pay attention to the difference between asking a formal (Sie) and a familiar (du/ihr) question. German-speakers tend to be much more formal than English-speakers. While Americans, in particular, may use first names with people they have just met or only know casually, German-speakers do not. When a German-speaker is asked his or her name, the reply will be the last or family name, not the first name. The more formal question, Wie ist Ihr Name?, as well as the standard Wie heißen Sie?, should be understood as "what is your LAST name?" Naturally, within the family and among good friends, the familiar "you" pronouns du and ihr are used, and people are on a first-name basis. But when in doubt, you should always err on the side of being too formal, rather than too familiar. For more about this important cultural difference, see this article: You and thou, Sie und du. The article includes a self-scoring quiz on the use of Sie und du. Kultur Kleine Familien Families in German-speaking countries tend to be small, with only one or two children (or no children). The birthrate in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland is lower than in many modern industrialized nations, with fewer births than deaths, i.e., less than zero population growth. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Flippo, Hyde. "How to Speak About the Family in German." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/my-family-in-german-4074982. Flippo, Hyde. (2020, August 27). How to Speak About the Family in German. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/my-family-in-german-4074982 Flippo, Hyde. "How to Speak About the Family in German." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/my-family-in-german-4074982 (accessed June 14, 2021). copy citation Everything you need to Know About German Names How to Use German Personal Pronouns How to Address Someone in German Properly Learning German "Give and Take" - "Geben, Nehmen" German for Beginners: Occupations (Beruf) Parts of the Body German for Beginners Lesson Top German Mistakes Made by Beginners German Verbs with Prepositions 1 - German Lesson Doch ...and Other Tricky German Words Capitalization in German How to Conjugate the German Verb "Heissen" (to Call) German for Beginners: Study Tips Formal and Informal German Greetings How to Say Thank You and You're Welcome in German Translating the Terms for "People" in German Which Countries Speak German?