thank you in german

15 Sincere Ways to Say “Thank You” in German

As you study German, whether you’re learning by yourself or participating in a language course, you’ll find that a simple heartfelt thanks can have many variations.

Knowing how and when to express gratitude is an essential part of understanding proper etiquette.

I’ve compiled a quick list of different German words and phrases that will let you eloquently express your gratitude!


How to Say Thank You 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.

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You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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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!)

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, especially if the thanks is for something minor.

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. Besten Dank — Best thanks

In truth, the expression itself is hardly different in meaning to vielen Dank. But though it seems minor, the little mention of “best” gives this expression a nice heartfelt tinge.

And again similar to vielen Dank, keep in mind when you want to use this phrase so that it comes off as sincere, not sarcastic. Because really, would you give your best thanks to someone who passed you the salt shaker at the dinner table?

5. Vielen Dank im Voraus — Many thanks in advance

Have a favor that you’ve already prepared to ask? Then you better have a thanks ready too.

Voraus means “ahead” or “advance.” Use this expression when you know a hearty thanks is necessary before the person does whatever it is you’d like them to do. You could also drop the vielen part to say danke im Voraus, if whatever you’re asking for isn’t as big of a deal.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to thank the individual again once they fulfill your request.

6. Tausend Dank — Thanks a million

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.

7. Danke für… — Thank you for…

Maybe someone has done more than just one thing for you. Maybe they just forgot or aren’t really aware of what they did.

Sometimes you need to specify what exactly you’re thankful for. And luckily, the exact way to say so in German is pretty much the same as in English.

After danke für, follow up with whatever it is you’re grateful for using the accusative case (ex. Danke für den Kaffee – Thanks for the coffee).

It doesn’t have to be a physical object either. It could be abstract things that you appreciate, such as virtues. For example, if you’d like to thank someone for their understanding, you could say “Danke für Ihr Verständnis.”

8. Ich danke Ihnen — I thank you

The pronoun Ihnen is the dative form of the formal Sie. This makes this “thank you” expression polite and formal, and one that’s appropriate for anyone who deserves a smidge more courtesy than most.

This includes folks who aren’t your close pals, as well as those who are your elders or seniors in age or rank.

It also carries an air of humility as well, so it’s a nice choice of phrase for when you truly want to express your gratitude without qualm.

9. 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.

As a quick reminder, in general, you’ll use dir when talking to one friend or acquaintance, and euch when addressing a group of them. For those who aren’t so close to you, you’ll use the pronoun Ihnen to make Ich bin Ihnen dankbar.

10. (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.

11. Wie nett von Ihnen / dir — How nice of you

Similar to the aforementioned sehr aufmerksam, this expression is probably best used when someone goes out of their way to do something for you, as opposed to them fulfilling a request.

However, you might be a bit worried that the phrase might come off as sarcastic, as it commonly does in English. You shouldn’t worry about it, so long as the context is genuine and your attitude is proper.

Remember dir is for your friends, and Ihnen is for those whom you’re less acquainted with.

12. 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.

13. Ich bedanke mich — I give you my thanks

It sounds a bit stuffy, maybe even overly elegant, but it definitely sends the message and makes you sound as sincere as you should be.

And you might be wondering, why is the pronoun mich meaning “me” used, and not dich meaning “you”? That’s because a reflexive verb is being used: sich bedanken (to thank), not just bedanken. You have to think about the subject that’s performing the action.

And, of course, since you’re the one doing the thanking, that means the correct pronoun to use is mich. Confusing, I know, but it’s already implied that you’re thanking someone else, not yourself!

You could also say Ich bedanke mich bei dir / Ihnen, if you want to be extra clear who your formal thanks are directed towards. 

14. Ich möchte mich recht herzlich bedanken — I would like to sincerely thank you

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.

15. 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.


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 as your next stop, check out our post on saying “you’re welcome” in German to respond politely to anyone who thanks you!

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