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When I type in "do you want to go?" into Google Translate it gives me in French:

voulez-vous aller?

and in German it gives me

willst du gehen?

Is there a way to change the settings so that it always gives both the personal and polite form version for all languages which have this characteristic?

  • 1
    It appears to take the tone in English as a directive as to how you ask the question. Try "Would you like to go?", which translated to "Möchten Sie gehen?". – Bernhard Hofmann Jul 8 '10 at 6:17

10 Answers 10

4

Using "thou" sometimes helps, and so does "you all", but there is no foolproof way to get the correct form.

Google translate is based on statistical inference (not structural parsing / substitution), so the vous/tu usage is inconsistent.

you are very pretty -> tu es très jolie

you are very nice -> vous êtes très belle

I can only speculate "pretty" is more intimate than "nice" and more often encountered with "tu" forms in parallel translations Google's algorithms were trained on.

2

For the German 'du' familiar form simply type 'du' instead of 'you'.

Example: "What do du want?" will translate as "was willst du werden?"

Just be sure to type 'du' the first time. If you accidentally type 'you' it keeps it in the proper 'Sie' formulation.

Hope that helps.

1

You can get the tu form by left clicking on the vous in your translation. Then choose tu. Left click on any of the translated words and you will get a choice of alternatives.

1

Instead of using "you" in the English sentence, use either "tu" or "vous" as a substitute for YOU, and it uses that same pronoun in the French sentence!

1

This worked for me: I used thou and thy, the old English familiar words for you, and it translated to tu in French, and if there were multiple you's in the sentence, I only did it with the first you, and it made all of the you's in that sentence informal.

1

Here is my trick. Add words "Sir" or "Lady" to force formal.

eg. "You" --> "You lady" or "You Sir"

Informal

  • "You are the coolest guy."
  • "Du bist der coolste Typ." in German
  • "Eres el chico más genial." in Spanish

Formal

  • "You Sir are the coolest guy."
  • "Sie Sir sind der coolste Typ." in German
  • "Usted señor es el tipo más genial." in Spanish

Then take out the "Sir" in the German language or "señor" in spanish. Not sure if it works in other languages.

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  • Can confirm this is working in French (DeepL and GoogleTranslate) – pjmg yesterday
0

You have to use :

dost thou want to go?

Which gets (almost) correctly translated to

tu veux aller?

I don't think there's a way to get both, as "you" is the polite form in english, and google will translate it to the polite form in other languages

  • tu is not the polite form in French. English does not have a separate polite and non-polite form. – R-D Jul 8 '10 at 7:35
  • no, indeed, "tu" is not the polite form in french, neither is "thou" in english. Thats' the whole point of my reply... English used to have a personal form, which has fallen into disuse, but aparently google is still capable of translating it correctly. – jfoucher Jul 8 '10 at 8:41
  • the best would be if Google Translate would always give you all possible forms, I wonder if there is a setting to make it give all forms, would be nice – Edward Tanguay Jul 8 '10 at 12:03
  • English still has a personal form, it's just fallen out of use in some dialects. But not all dialects, as you will quickly discover if you visit Yorkshire. – Mike Scott Jul 23 '14 at 14:27
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For short phrases you can prefix the phrase with a formal or familiar context.

E.g. Mr Jones, You walk .... will give you a formal translation for You walk
E.g. My friend, You walk .... will give you an informal translation

0

Google works in mysterious ways. Going from English to Polish, try substituting "lord" for the formal "you": "Lord can contact me" yields "Pan może się ze mną skontaktować" versus "You can contact me" yields "Możesz się ze mną skontaktować". "Lady" seems to work correctly too. I noticed different results when Lord was capitalized versus not. So, I don't know how consistent this work around is.

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I have just started having this problem. I Googled around and found some of the earlier solutions. I was able to gerry-rig the system in the following way.

If you stick in, alternatively, the terms: “lover” and “teacher” as the subjects of the sentence, then it will force the translator to conjugate in the formal and informal.

For instance, today, I was trying to tell my…Parisian lover that he could cook the steaks and I would cook everything else. Lol. (I am not good at cooking steaks.) But I am new at French. When I stuck in “[Y]ou can cook the steak,” it conjugated in the formal. But when I typed, “[L]over, [amoreux] you can cook the steak,” it came back with the “tu” form of pouvoir. Because…presumably if the two of you are knocking nasties, you are on familiar terms.

Reading elsewhere that the system could be gerry-rigged by the divine pronouns thou, thee, etc., but no longer was; I tried “pastor” as a subject that might force formality. I was surprised that this didn’t work. I am a pastor’s daughter, and so MY relationship with my own pastor was informal (haha), I assumed OTHER PEOPLE would consider their relationship with THEIR pastors on a more formal basis. Nope. “Tu.”

But when I used the noun-subject “teacher,” it forced the formal verb conjugations.

But…obviously this is bullshit and could be programmed so that we could toggle for it. If Google gave a shit.

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