One of the first things you learn in a new language has got to be “Thank you”. After all, being able to articulate your thankfulness allows you to show your good manners. That is why I want to teach you all the different ways to say “Thank you” in German.
This is an important step to take if you want to have cultivated conversations with Germans. But rest assured, it is not that difficult. You will also learn how to properly reply and say “You’re welcome” in German. And just in case you ever need something from a German, I will also teach you how to say “please” in German. We have added audio, so in addition to learning the words, you will also learn how to pronounce the phrases correctly.
Learning such phrases should be as essential as knowing how to say “hello” in German since you will need them in many situations. Let’s get started.
1. “Thanks” in German – Danke
Let’s start with the basics. The German word for “Thanks” is Danke. This is probably the most common way to say “Thank you” in German. Consequently, it will come in handy in many different situations.
But because just saying “thanks” is a bit generic, I want to show you a few words that you can add.
2. “Thank you” in German – Ich danke dir
Though “Danke” is the most basic way to say “thanks” in German you can of course expand on that. Let me show you how to do that. “Thank you” in German is ich danke dir. Just like “Danke”, it is very common. But you can use it to address people more directly.
3. “Thanks a lot” in German – vielen Dank
The next one on our list might be used even more frequently than the first two. Vielen Dank is German for “thanks a lot” and it is the go-to phrase to show your gratitude. You can combine this with the previous entry to say “Thank you a lot” in german: Ich danke dir vielmals. It can be used in all kinds of situations, whether it’s formal or informal.
4. “Thank you very much” in German – Danke sehr
Another common phrase is Danke sehr. It is German for “Thank you very much”. As the first entries, it can be used universally. No matter if you are amongst strangers or friends, “Danke sehr” is always appropriate.
5. “Thank you kindly” in German – Danke schön
This entry is very similar to the previous one. Instead of saying “Danke sehr” you can mix it up a little by saying Danke schön. Danke sehr and Danke schön are practically interchangeable.
On a side note: I like to shine a light on some of the peculiarities of the German language. After all, this might help you understand the language and the culture. In general, Germans like to keep things nice and brief. That is why you will find that a lot of the expressions in this list are shorter than their English counterparts.
This might also be the reason why we use compound words. In German, you can add an infinite number of nouns together to form a new word. So instead of inventing a new word for every object, Germans often use a combination of existing words. For example, the German word for glove is “Handschuh”, which literally translates to hand shoe. There are dozens of other examples, but we’ll leave it with that.
6. “Thank you a thousand times” in German – Tausend Dank
Believe it or not, even for a clunky phrase like “Thank you a thousand times” there is a short way to say it in German: Tausend Dank is a nice way to express your never-ending gratitude.
7. “Thanks be to you” in German – Es sei dir gedankt
Because we have now worked through the most common ways, let us turn things up a notch by having a look at a more pretentious expression. If you ever find yourself in an upper-class surrounding, show your appreciation by saying Es sei dir gedankt. It is a sure-fire way for non-natives to make an impression.
8. “Thank god” in German – Gott sei Dank
If you have memorized the previous phrases, you should now be capable of thanking Germans in all possible situations. But like in English, there are situations where you want to address a higher power with your gratitude. Whether you caught a lucky break, or barely evaded misfortune – Gott sei Dank is the proper saying.
9. “Thank you” in southern Germany – Vergelt’s Gott
If you have read my article about the various ways to say “Hello” in German, you might remember that the German language varies very much from region to region. While greetings are heavily affected by this phenomenon, things are a bit different for “Thank you”. Nonetheless, there some expressions that you will hear only in certain regions.
Vergelt’s Gott roughly translates to “may god repay it”, and it’s a phrase that people in southern Germany or Austria frequently use. This is partly due to the fact that the southern regions have a strong religious heritage.
10. “Thank you” in Switzerland – Merci
Germany is not the only German-speaking country. In some parts of Switzerland, the population speaks a heavy dialect called “Schwiizerdütsch”. And because French is also an official language in Switzerland, there are noticeable french influences on Schwiizerdütsch.
Therefore, the customary way to say “Thank you” in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland is the French word Merci.
11. “Thanks in advance” in German – Danke im Voraus
Sometimes, you expect people to help you with something. But you don’t want to come across as too demanding, do you? So, you show them that the help is very much appreciated. This is common, especially in the workplace environment, and the appropriate phrase to use in these situations is Danke im Voraus. It is German for “Thanks in advance”.
12. “No, thank you” in German – Nein, danke
Another common situation you will find yourself in is when you want to politely decline an offer. Say Nein, danke with a smile, and you will master the situation flawlessly. It is a literal translation of “No, thank you” and you can use it identically.
13. “You’re welcome” in German – Bitte
Now that we have taken care of all the different ways to say “Thank you” in German, let us have a look at the proper responses. to start with the simplest, just answer Bitte when you want to say “You’re welcome” in German. It is short and universally applicable, and is therefore very popular.
14. “You’re very welcome” in German – Bitte sehr
Like the word “Danke”, “Bitte” can be combined with other words, to make it sound more significant. Bitte sehr is just one of the possibilities. it means “You’re very welcome”.
15. “You’re very welcome” in German – Bitte schön
Another way to make it clear that your dialogue partner is very welcome is by saying Bitte schön. Both “Bitte schön” and “Bitte sehr” are very commonplace.
16. “No problem” in German – Kein Problem
But of course, there is also a more casual and colloquial way to put it. Let’s say you have done your best friend a favor and they are grateful. You can let them know that it was no big deal by saying Kein Problem, which is German for “no problem”. Another possibility is by saying Dafür nicht. This is German for “not for this”.
17. “My pleasure” in German – Gern geschehen
Let us move on to the next entry. You might come across this one when you are being served a cold German beer by the waiting staff. Gern geschehen is German for “my pleasure”, and you can use it to let people know, you enjoyed helping out. There is also the shorter Gerne, which means the same thing, but comes across a bit more casual.
18. “Anytime” in German – Jederzeit wieder.
Let’s conclude this list with our last entry: Jederzeit (wieder). Another frequently used saying. Use it to emphasize that helping someone out didn’t bother you in the slightest. The “wieder” is optional, so you can say Jederzeit to the same effect.
19. “Please” in German – Bitte
“Bitte” again? Yes! Germans use the same word for “You’re welcome” and “please”. In fact, bitte is a very versatile word that can mean a lot of different things, depending on the context. You didn’t understand someone? Say “bitte?”. You want to say “You’re welcome”? Say “bitte.” You want to ask someone for something? You guessed it: Say “bitte”.
Congratulations, you made it through! I hope this little list is of help to you. Like so many other languages, German knows a plethora of ways to say “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. And now you are familiar with the most important ones. This should help you follow German etiquette and show that you are well-mannered.
Vielen Dank for reading my article, I hope you liked it.