Why Germans Might Sound Strict in English

Germans can seem a little bossy when they speak English. It’s how they might translate certain words.

Let’s take a closer look at that seemingly innocent word “must.”

The Trouble with “Must”

Many German speakers translate the word “müssen” directly to “must” in English.

But it can sound rather harsh and demanding.

Imagine your English coach says, “You must learn more English words.” How does it sound to you? A bit forceful, right? As if she’s forcing you to do something you don’t want to do. 

Softening the Blow: Using “Have To”

The good news is, English offers a more relaxed alternative: “have to.

Instead of “I must work a bit longer today,” try “I have to work a bit longer today.” 

See the difference? It sounds less rigid and more like a simple plan or task.

Beyond “Must”: Other Words to Watch Out For

Here are a few other German words that can sound harsh in English:

  • “Soll”: “Soll” often translates to “should.” But “should” can also sound a bit demanding. Try using “could” or “might” for suggestions.
  • “Muss man?”: This phrase literally translates to “Must one?” But it sounds awkward in English. Instead, try “Do you have to?” or “Is it necessary to?”

Understanding the Nuances

The key is understanding the difference between a direct translation and what sounds natural in everyday English conversation.

By using these softer alternatives, you’ll sound less like a drill sergeant and more like a friendly colleague!

Remember, a little change in vocabulary can go a long way!


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Foto Christine Sparks

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