How often do you find yourself saying thank you throughout the day?
Did you say it today at the grocery store?
After the barista handed you your cup of java?
When someone complimented your awesome shoes?
Suffice it to say, showing gratitude is pretty important on a daily basis.
As you study German, whether you’re learning by yourself or participating in a language course, you’ll find that a simple heartfelt thanks, and an appropriate response, can have many variations.
Knowing how and when to express gratitude is an essential part of understanding proper etiquette. And if you’re going to be traveling to Germany, you’ll want to learn how to give a well-appreciated thanks when deserved.
But it also goes beyond just being polite. Like in most other countries, you’ll find that different cultural sectors in Germany, from the realm of business to the dining experience, each have their own social expectations. However, in all of them, knowing how to give and accept thanks is crucial.
With that said, we’ve compiled a quick list of different German words and phrases that will let you eloquently express and receive gratitude!
15 Sincere Ways to Say Thank You and You’re Welcome in German
Some of these phrases might sound awkward at first, but repeatedly listening and repeating them will make them much easier to master. Using a platform like FluentU will be extremely helpful in your quest to master these phrases.
Each video comes with interactive captions you can click for an instant definition of any unfamiliar word, plus other videos where the word is used. With FluentU, you can hear authentic videos of speakers saying thank you in a variety of situations. It’s the perfect complement to your learning routine. You can check out the complete video library and learning platform with a free trial. (You’re welcome!)
How to Say Thank You in German
1. Danke — Thank you / Thanks
This is the very basic and most common way of saying thanks. Although it’s considered pretty casual, it’s appropriate for most situations, informal or formal.
It’s not rude to use it even with people you’re less familiar with, but it doesn’t hurt to use a formal pronoun for them and say something like Ich danke Ihnen (I thank you).
2. Danke schön / Danke sehr — Thank you kindly / Thank you very much
Once you tack on schön or sehr to danke, you’ve upped the formality of your thanks. Both phrases pack more oomph than danke. You’ll probably hear them often in formal conversations, such as business transactions, although danke schön is still pretty common among friends.
Danke sehr sounds a tad more polite just by its translation, but it can be used interchangeably with danke schön. Regardless of which you use, both of them have a pleasant ring and roll off your tongue easily; danke schön even has its own song named after it.
3. Vielen Dank — Many thanks
Some might say that this phrase is even more formal than danke schön or danke sehr. It definitely sounds more heartfelt. It’s good to use when someone has really helped you out or you’re truly grateful.
In other words, it shouldn’t be said lightly, because it might come off as ironic.
4. Tausend Dank — Thousand thanks
Essentially, this is the German equivalent of the English “thanks a million.” And no, just because a thousand is less than a million doesn’t mean it loses any weight. It’s commonly used for informal situations and when you’re speaking to good acquaintances.
5. Ich bin dir dankbar — I’m thankful to you
If you’re aiming to sound a bit more proper and grammatical, you can swap out a quick thanks with this more graceful phrase. Depending on who you’re speaking to, the pronoun should change, so make sure you know which pronoun is appropriate for whom.
In general, you’ll use dir and euch for friends and acquaintances. For those who aren’t so close to you, you’ll use the pronoun Ihnen to make Ich bin Ihnen dankbar.
6. (Danke) sehr aufmerksam — (Thank you) That is very kind of you
Sometimes you just want to say thanks without actually saying the word. If someone’s done an especially kind deed out of the goodness of their heart, you’ll want to use this phrase.
It comes off as a compliment as well, making it particularly pleasing for the recipient to hear. If you do feel like ensuring your gratitude, you can attach danke at the front.
7. Danke, gleichfalls — Thank you, the same to you
Gleichfalls by itself means “likewise,” but it can stand alone as a response meaning “you too” or “the same to you.” It’s a common response for when you agree with someone, whether it’s a compliment or criticism. And the single word eliminates the need for you to figure out which pronoun is more appropriate when you want to say “you too.”
Tacking on danke to gleichfalls lets you both thank and offer someone the same well-wishes they give to you. As an example, someone may say, “Ich wünsche dir alles Gute” (I wish you all the best) and you can reply with “Danke, gleichfalls.”
You could actually just reply to well-wishes with gleichfalls, as you’re still expressing that you share the person’s sentiment, but danke is what makes your response more polite.
8. Ich möchte mich recht herzlich bedanken — I would like to thank you sincerely
This statement is filled with formality and is appropriate in a formal scenario or a professional setting. Herzlich means “heartfelt” and is an adjective that boosts the power of a regular German thank you.
Indeed, this phrase definitely carries a note of sincerity appropriate to use when the person you’re speaking with has gone out of their way to help you.
9. Vergelt’s Gott — May God reward you for it
Here’s a fun one that you probably won’t hear often in mainland Germany. It’s more commonly heard in Austria and southern Germany, regions that have historically been Catholic-inclined and whose religious history still shines through the local dialect.
While it really does simply mean thank you, you can’t deny that it has a bit of impact to it. A regular response to this phrase is Segne es Gott (Bless it, God).
How to Say You’re Welcome in German
Now that you know how to offer a heartfelt thanks when the time comes, let’s learn how to respond when people extend that gratitude to you.
10. Bitte — You’re welcome
Bitte is a very versatile word and is crucial to know. It’s one of the first words you’ll probably learn when starting German.
Besides you’re welcome, common meanings include “please,” “pardon?” and “May I help you?” The meaning changes depending on the context of the conversation.
11. Bitte schön / Bitte sehr — You’re very welcome
Bitte schön and bitte sehr carry a weight of formality and are technically the logical counterparts to danke schön and danke sehr, respectively. However, they also have other meanings such as “here you go” (when you’re offering something).
12. Gern geschehen / Gerne — Done gladly
Gern is an adverb that means “gladly,” but it can stand alone as an expression meant to convey your willingness to do something. For example, you can simply say gern to an offer or request to mean “yes, please.”
Gern geschehen literally means “done gladly” and is a friendly way to accept one’s gratitude after you did them a favor.
13. Nichts zu danken — Nothing to thank for
While gern geschehen is something you might say if what you did was a little out of your way, nichts zu danken is a modest response you should give if what you did for someone else was minor. This would include things like holding open a door or passing over an item—actions that genuinely require minimal effort.
You can think of it as the German equivalent of “not a problem” or “it was nothing.”
14. Kein Problem — No problem
Here’s a popular one that will be easy to remember for you English speakers. This one is commonly used nowadays and is sometimes swapped with the similar phrase keine Ursache (No reason).
Kein Problem can also be used in response to a potentially offensive remark and in that case would mean “no offense taken.”
15. Dafür nicht / Nicht dafür — Not for that
This phrase is a colloquial one commonly used in northern Germany, although it’s gaining traction in the southern region as well. It can be used when the accomplished favor isn’t worth much thanks, as if it were part of one’s job in the first place.
The wording of this phrase might make it seem a bit impolite or prudish, as one might take it to mean “never mind” in the face of gratitude. So if you’re feeling wary, you can opt for an alternative expression to accept someone’s appreciation.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always nice to give thanks if someone helps you in any way.
Remember to note who you’re speaking to before choosing what to say, and you’ll be all set in making a respectable impression.
Danke für’s Lesen! (Thank you for reading!)
And One More Thing...
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