Everyone likes a go-getter. And the benefits of saying “yes” are well documented.
Saying “yes” leads to more opportunities, more rich experiences and more surprises in life. It’s exciting to find out what’s behind the next door and be involved in what happens around you.
However, what if you need to say “yes” in German?
The answer is both simple and not simple.
You might already know the German equivalent of the English word “yes.” However, to use a language and sound like a native speaker, a little variety is called for.
Stuck for ways to agree to something in German?
Not to worry. From the basic to the assertive (and ways to say “no” as well), we have you covered.
Great Resources to Practice Saying “Yes” in German
Learning how to say “yes” in German is a good start. But don’t stop there. There are many fantastic resources out there to get you reading and speaking fluently in the language.
If you want to say “yes” in German, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to first. Dict.CC is a free online German-English dictionary that comes in handy if you need to look up a word fast. It’s more comprehensive, especially with more specific words, than some of the other online alternatives.
Nothing offers motivation as much as getting to put what you’ve learned into real-world use. You can watch free German TV with 3sat, practicing your comprehension skills (and learning about German pop culture at the same time). Keep a particular eye out for characters’ short responses, such as ways of saying “yes.”
The SOS to Saying “Yes” in German: 20 Different Ways to Agree
Starting with the Basics: Simple Ways of Saying “Yes” in German
1. Ja (Yes)
As elemental as it gets, ja is the direct equivalent of the English word “yes.” Note that the “j” is pronounced with an English “y” sound, and the “a” is long (think: “mall”).
You probably already know this word, even if you’re an absolute German beginner. Congratulations! You’ve got the basics down. Now, let’s look at some more varieties of agreeing and accepting.
2. Okay (Okay)
Whether Greek, Choctaw or something else, no one really knows where the word “okay” comes from. What can be confirmed, however, is that it exists in both English and German.
If only all language learning was this easy.
3. Kein Problem (No problem)
This slangy answer looks similar to its English translation, making it handy in a pinch.
4. Ich stimme dir zu / Ich stimme Ihnen zu (I agree with you)
Here we’re dipping out toes into the grammar of addressing someone either formally or informally. Ich stimme dir zu is more appropriate if you’re addressing your friend or someone you’re familiar with. Ich stimme Ihnen zu is called for when the other person is a stranger, older or of a higher “status.”
5. Das ist wahr (That is true)
Everyone likes it when you confirm what they’re saying. Also, no matter language I’m trying to speak it, I pull this one of out my pocket when I’m not sure what to say.
6. Das klingt gut (That sounds good)
If you’re like me, maybe say “That sounds good” way too much in English. (Sometimes I even annoy myself with this one.) Luckily, it also works in German, so I can also annoy myself in German, too.
7. Gewiss (Certainly)
This is a good variation on ja, flexing your German language skills. Note that the “w” is actually more like the English “v.”
8. Sicher (Sure)
You hear this all the time in German-speaking countries. Might as well use it yourself!
9. Also gut (Ok, good)
This informal way of saying that you’re liking what you’re hearing makes you sound like a bonafide German speaker.
Putting Some Umpf into It: More Emphatic Ways of Saying “Yes”
The more words and expressions at your disposal, the more accurately you can relay what you’re thinking and feeling. Some situations call for more emphasis in your response. Let the other person know that you’re not just saying yes: you’re saying yes with attitude.
11. Jawohl (Absolutely/Affirmative/Yes sir!)
I want to raise an imaginary stein every time I hear this word used. Something good is going to happen when you answer with Jawohl!
12. Klar (Of course)
Make it clear that the answer was obvious.
13. Warum nicht? (Why not?)
For the adventurist, answering Warum nicht? shows that you’re open to whatever is being suggested. Suddenly, life is getting a lot more interesting.
14. Bestimmt (For sure)
You’re not just agreeing, but agreeing with vigor. You’re ready to rock.
15. Freilich (Sure!)
Another of the multiple ways to say “of course.” It never hurts to mix it up a bit.
16. Ohne Zweifel (Without a doubt)
Since Ohne Zweifel literally translate as “without doubt,” it’s handy for English speakers to remember.
17. Selbstverständlich (Obviously)
A long word, surely, but one that’ll impress once you have it down. Might as well add it to the arsenal.
By the way, “I don’t know how to pronounce that!” is no longer a valid excuse with the help of online pronunciation dictionaries like Forvo, which provide real pronunciations by native speakers. You can listen to pronunciations of Selbstverständlich a dozen times over if you have to.
18. Auf jeden fall (Definitely)
Whoever you’re speaking to will appreciate your confidence with this gem.
19. Natürlich (Naturally)
I don’t know about you, but I love it when the German word reminds me of its English translation. And hey, you get to use a word with an umlaut.
20. Doch (Yes)
There’s a bit of grammar required on this one. The informal expression Doch is only used when answering “yes” to a negative question.
So, you didn’t go shopping? (Also, du bist nicht einkaufen gegangen?)
(Yes) I did! (Doch!)
Not Sure? Being More Noncommittal in Your “Yes”
As good as it is pursuing the possibilities of life, sometimes it’s not so easy pulling the trigger. I understand. If you need more time to think about whatever you’re being asked, trying putting off the answer with these cautious responses:
könnte sein (Could be)
Just in Case: Different Ways to Say “No” in German
Simply put, there are some bad ideas out there. Once word gets out that you’re a “yes person,” there might be nefarious characters out there looking to take advantage of that. It doesn’t hurt to know how to turn someone down.
Note that both nee and nicht are informal (which might help soften the blow).
Now you’re ready to experience everything the German language has to offer by knowing how to say “yes.” Here’s to hoping that it’ll lead to new adventures, new friendships and new opportunities. In other words: everything that learning a language is meant to do.
Are you ready for that?
Ryan Dennis was a Fulbright Scholar and previously taught at Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd. In addition to hating ketchup, British spelling and violence, he is the founder of The Milk House—a site showcasing the best in rural writing.