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How To Say “Please” and “Thank You” in German. Or How To Be Polite in German

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Do you want to learn how to say “please” and “thank you” in German? Then you have come to the right place. In this post, an experienced native German tutor explains the difference between 12 expressions of politeness in German.

Thank you= Danke

Danke is the most common and simple way to say “thank you” in German. It is the conjugated form of the verb “danken”(to thank) and is used with the -e ending as the short form of saying “I thank you” (Ich danke dir/Ihnen). “Danke” can be used in formal as well as informal settings alike. Be careful, though, as it is a verb that goes with the dative case. So if you want to say I thank you, you have to say “danke dir” in informal or “danke Ihnen” in formal situations.

Thank you so much= Danke schön

Danke schön is a very common combination of the verb “danken” and the adjective “schön”, which translates as “beautiful” or “pretty”. It is a slightly more emphatic way of saying “thank you”. “Dankeschön” also exists as a noun and is often used as a gesture of gratitude in form of a present.

Thank you very much/thanks a lot= Danke sehr or danke vielmals

Danke sehr can be used interchangeably with danke schön, but is more formal than the latter. The adverb “very” adds emphasis and makes your gratitude sound more polite.

Many thanks= Vielen Dank

Vielen Dank is used in situations when a simple “danke” wouldn’t be enough to convey one’s gratitude. “Dank” is a masculine noun, while “viel” can be either an adverb or an adjective. In the phrase “vielen Dank”, it is used as an adjective. The reason why it has the -en ending is that the phrase is short for “Ich schulde dir/Ihnen vielen Dank” (I owe you many thanks), so it is used in the accusative case.

Thanks a million= Tausend Dank

While in English, you might thank someone deeply by saying “thanks a million!”, the German equivalent is "tausend Dank" (literally, “a thousand thanks”).

Thank you ever so much – Besten Dank

The German expression “besten Dank” (literally, "best thanks") doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but it is akin to “thank you ever so much” because it expresses the utmost gratitude.

Heartfelt thanks= Herzlichen Dank

The German expression “herzlichen Dank” doesn’t have an English equivalent either, but its translation would be “heartfelt thanks”.

Please= Bitte

Bitte is the most common way to say “please” in German and the standard response to “danke”. As with “danke”, it can be combined with “schön” and “sehr” to add an extra layer of politeness and formality. However, “bitte” can also be used in other contexts. If you politely want to ask someone to repeat themselves, ask “wie bitte?” (excuse me). In response to someone offering you something, say “bitte” to accept their offer.

You’re Welcome= Bitte

If you are grateful for a favour you're receiving, the other person may respond with "bitte" or "gern geschehen" – (my pleasure). It's a polite way to accept gratitude.

No Problem= Kein Problem or keine Ursache

A common response to a “thank you” in English is “no problem!” or "no worries". The same expression exists in German, where people say "kein Problem!" or "keine Ursache". Slightly less common nowadays, but communicating the same idea is "nichts zu danken!" (which is like the English "don't mention it!").

On our German language blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte", you will learn about all things German- from expressions like "hello" and "how are you", "I'm busy", "I'm hot" or "I'm cold"- to German grammar topics, such as the difference between the personal pronouns du, Sie, and ihr, articles in German, reflexive verbs, and German syntax. We also explain how to say "evening in German and tell you about the correct translation of many other words.



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