German Requests

German speakers tend to opt for higher levels of directness than speakers of English when making a request, but not as much as Spanish or Hebrew speakers. Indirect requests are used four times more frequently than direct requests (Blum-Kulka et al., 1989):


Räum doch bitte die Küche auf ‘Clean the kitchen, please.’


Würdest Du vielleicht mal die Küche aufräumen? ‘Would you perhaps clean the kitchen?’


Ich habe soviel zu tun. ‘I have so much to do.’

German speakers also use downgraders to minimize imposition more often than English, Spanish, Hebrew, and French speakers. They may compensate for their relative directness by mitigating the requestive force (Blum-Kulka et al., 1989):

Können sie mich vielleicht mitnehmen? ‘Could you perhaps take me with you?’

Above passages from Blum-Kulka et al. (1989), p. 136.



Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood, NJ: Alblex Publishing Corporation.


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