Habt Ihr denn nichts davon gehört?

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by archibaldworthington, May 17, 2013.

  1. archibaldworthington Senior Member

    American English
    Guten Tag,

    My question concerns the use of the word „denn” and lack of a word for "it" in this sentence:

    Habt Ihr denn nichts davon gehört?

    If I were to try and translate this as literally as I could, it would read, "Have you not heard about (it)?" I'm assuming that
    „Ihr” is the formal, nominative "you"; despite the fact that it's not meant to be used like that in modern German as far as I know (but I also don't know much). Also, what happens to the word „denn”? I don't know exactly what it means here, but I suspect its use is emphatic. I'd appreciate if someone cleared these two things up for me.

    Dank im Voraus.

    Correction: it appears that "
    „Ihr” was probably being used to refer to a husband and wife (rather than just the wife). However that would leave me with the question of as to why it's capitalized.
    Last edited: May 17, 2013
  2. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    You're right (in your correction) about "Ihr". It's the 2nd person plural. It's capitalized for politeness, for the same reason you would capitalize "Du". I gather this practice is no longer recommended, but it used to be standard, and there are a lot of dogs out there too old to learn new tricks, especially tricks they don't like.

    The "denn" is indeed emphatic. You might translate it by sticking "But" in front of your sentence or "anything" in front of "about".

    There is no lack of "it", because "davon" basically means "of it".
  3. archibaldworthington Senior Member

    American English
    Alrighty. Danke schön.
  4. ablativ Senior Member

    While the formal "Sie" (2nd person singular and plural) has always been capitalized (in written and spoken language, there are no exceptions to this rule) - the "du" and "ihr" has never been capitalized for addressing one/several person(s) in spoken language. Only in written language (for example writing a letter to someone) you are allowed to capitalize "du" and "ihr" if you like, but there is no 'must' about it any longer.
    Last edited: May 17, 2013
  5. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    This means: If it is in a letter, you can use "ihr" or "Ihr" - both is correct in a grammatical sense.
    But I prefer "Ihr" to indicate that I hold the other persons in high regard (dass ich die anderen schätze.)

    Lowercase "du" and "ihr" in letters is a form due to spelling reform, but it was never fully accepted, and after the reform of the reform it is allowed again to write uppercase, I recommend to use this form in letters.

    When I get a letter with lowercase "du" I have another feeling. It is missing the familiar warmth.


    It may also change the sense:

    1. - Ich frage mich, was machst du nächste Woche? = I ask myself what to do next week.
    2. - Ich frage mich, was machst Du nächste Woche? = I ask myself what are you doing next week.

    After the spelling reform, the first (1.) is not clear anymore, if you write all "du" lowercase.

    The word "Ihr" is uppercase because of politeness, but informal.

    The formal form is "Haben Sie denn nichts davon gehört?"
    Last edited: May 18, 2013

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