Although Berlin is fairly informal, there are a few general rules worth keeping in mind when meeting strangers.

  • Greetings Shake hands and say 'Guten Morgen' (before noon), 'Guten Tag' (between noon and 6pm) or 'Guten Abend' (after 6pm). Use the formal 'Sie' (you) with strangers and only switch to the informal 'du' and first names if invited to do so. With friends and children, use first names and 'du'.
  • Asking for help Germans use the same word – Entschuldigung – to say 'excuse me' (to attract attention) and 'sorry' (to apologise).
  • Eating and drinking At the table, say 'Guten Appetit' before digging in. Germans hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. To signal that you have finished eating, lay your knife and fork parallel across your plate. If drinking wine, the proper toast is 'Zum Wohl'; with beer it's 'Prost'.