Avoid using “I”

The Germans avoid using the word “I”. Whether in letters, postcards or emails, a sentence should never begin with “I”. Germans prefer to use either indirect speech or the passive form.

Especially common in German is the use of the word man or one. Germans believe that they should not speak too much about, or directly refer to themselves. To place yourself in the middle of attention is considered to be self-centered, not objective, and therefore not persuasive.

There is a German figure of speech: Der Esel nennt sich immer zuerst, literally meaning the donkey always names itself first. German children are taught to say: Hans und ich … instead of Ich und Hans. Hans and I, instead of I and Hans.

German schools teach their pupils to remain analytical, objective and to leave themselves as individuals out of the discussion. Textbooks explicitly avoid the word Ich, instead recommending: “The logical conclusion follows, that …”. Or “From based on the presented arguments, one could draw the conclusion, that …”. Or “It should be noted, that …”.