Learn German Easily

How do you say thanks in German

20 ways to say thank you and you’re welcome in German

Thank you in different languages

Introduction

If you are wondering how to say ‘thank you’ in German, you’ve come to the right place.

Whatever the situation, it is always a good gesture to appreciate when someone does something good.

Germans, in particular, are very courteous and do expect a similar turn of courtesy from you.

I will therefore not only help you with knowing how to say ‘thank you’ in German, but I will also teach you how to respond to that and make the other person smile.

So, what is ‘thank you’ in German translation?

Danke is the most basic form to say ‘thanks’ in German

Whether you are in a formal or informal setting, ‘danke’ is the ‘one fits all’ solution.

Here are some instances when you could use it:

  • When you receive a compliment
  • When your friend does you a favour
  • When someone offers you something
  • When the host turns off the wi-fi

The last example is, of course, an ironic reaction. In that situation you can also say: ‘Na, schönen Dank auch!’ (pronounced in an ironic voice).

The point is, don’t think too hard. If you like what someone has done, just say ‘danke’.

But what if you want to make it really heartfelt?

Thanks a lot in German

Variations of the expression thank you in German

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Vielen Dank!

This basically means thanks a lot.

Danke sehr!

Sehr means very.

Like you could say “Ich bin sehr hungrig.” – I’m very hungry.

Danke sehr therefore means thank you very much.

Danke im Voraus!

If someone promises to do something for you or offers you something, you could respond with ‘danke im Voraus’ which means ‘thank you in advance’.

Now you’re probably wondering why I capitalized the word ‘Voraus’.

This is because even though it’s an adverb, in this case it becomes a noun and therefore must be capitalized.  

Danke schön!

This means thank you kindly.

It may be a bit formal than the conventional danke, but you could use it in any occasion to add some spice to your German!

Remember: Do not translate German to English word for word, because the structure is different. What you need is to develop a feel for the language by listening to it in an actual conversation, and your brain will store the structure, words and meaning naturally.

Heartfelt thank you in German

How to say a heartfelt thank you in German

Sometimes, a simple ‘thank you’ is not enough.

Let’s say for example, your friend stepped down for you in the sports team because he/she felt that you were a better player, but you were not selected for whatever reason.

Would it be enough to say a plain ‘thank you’?

Maybe not.

If that is the case then you may want to use either of the following:

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Herzlichen Dank!

The heart knows best, does it?

The German word for heart is Herz, and so when you want to attribute your gratitude as coming from the heart, you can use herzlichen Dank.

You may also think of it as ‘heartfelt thanks’.

Besten Dank!

Whenever you see the German word beste, besten, bestes etc., always think of the term ‘best’.

For instance, das beste Auto means the best car while die beste Schule means the best school.

Besten Dank therefore generally means the best of thanks.

…if you are wondering why the articles changed for school and car, you can learn more about the German articles, der die and das here.

When you want to be formal

In some places such as at work or when you meet with people you respect, you do not want to sound too casual.

Sounding too formal will not only maintain the respect, it will also make the said people to like you and treat you in a kind way.

In that case, some of the phrases to use include:

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Vielen herzlichen Dank!

We have already seen that herzlichen Dank means heartfelt thanks, and so vielen herzlichen Dank means many heartfelt thanks.

Recht herzlichen Dank! 

It’s more or less the same as vielen herzlichen Dank just a tad more formal.

Tausend Dank!

In German, tausend is a thousand, and so tausend Dank means a thousand thanks.

It could be used to appreciate a host after a formal party or when your senior does you a huge favor.

Vielen Dank für alles!

This basically means thanks a lot for everything.

It could fit in the above situation, but mostly, it is used when someone has done a series of things or helped in many ways to the completion of an event, especially a formal one.

Ich bedanke mich!

This means I offer my thanks.

Think of someone who offers you a ride. What do you say when you get to your destination? This phrase would be quite ideal for such circumstances.

Herzliches Dankeschön!

Another heart!

This phrase means ‘kind thanks from the heart’, and now we have enough hearts to move to the next section.

But before we move on, I would like to tell you not to overthink it.

All these forms are interchangeable and appropriate, and the best way to internalize them is to learn the language naturally.

We can move on now…

How to use the formal version with appropriate pronouns

The right formal pronoun (in our examples) for ‘you’ is Sie/Ihnen and Ihre/Ihren for ‘your’.

Remember, formal versions of the pronouns are encouraged when you do not know someone very well.

That means that unless you are speaking to children, friends or family members, you should use formal pronouns when you want to say thank you in German.

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For example:

Ich danke Ihnen!

This means basically thank you, but you can add sehr to create emphasis.

This way it becomes Ich danke Ihnen sehr! which means thank you very much.

Haben Sie vielen Dank!

This simply means ‘I give you many thanks.’

If you want to be more elaborate and go beyond just the usual Danke, then you can add für after it.

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Danke für Ihre Hilfe.
Thanks for your help.

Danke für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit.
Thank you for your attention.

Danke für Ihre Unterstützung. 
Thank you for your support.

Herzlichen Dank für Ihre Einladung. 
Thank you very much for your invitation.

Vielen herzlichen Dank für Ihren Anruf. 
Thank you very much for calling (telephone).

Ich danke Ihnen für das schöne Geschenk. 
Thank you for the beautiful gift.

Ich danke Ihnen für die schöne Zeit. 
Thank you for the wonderful time.

Ich danke Ihnen für den schönen Abend.
Thank you for the nice evening.

How to use the informal version with appropriate pronouns

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Using the above example, if the situation was informal then you would have used dir (you) and deine/deinen (your).

That way, the sentences would be:

  • Ich danke dir!
  • Ich danke dir sehr!
  • Hab’ vielen Dank! 
  • Danke für deine Mühe. 
  • Danke für deine Hilfe. 
  • Vielen Dank für deinen Anruf. 
  • Ich danke dir für das schöne Geschenk. 
  • Ich danke dir für die schöne Zeit. 
  • Ich danke dir für den schönen Abend. 

 

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Are you confused and unsure when to use the correct pronouns?

Don’t worry if this makes your head spin.

German grammar usually does that.

The good thing is that with my method and German lessons you can learn naturally and you won’t have to memorize any of that.

… but back to more ways of saying thank you in German.

How to respond when someone says thanks in German

Just as with German grammar, the response you give depends on whether the situation is formal or casual, and also the form of ‘thank you’ used.

But don’t think too hard. It’s really simple, because all you have to do is determine what phrase was used and then use the appropriate response.

And what are the appropriate responses?

When someone says danke, the standard response is bitte.

This normally means ‘please’, but within the context of responding to a ‘thank you’, it means ‘you’re welcome’.

If instead they say danke schön, then you should reply by saying bitte schön.

But if they on the other hand say danke sehr, you should likewise say bitte sehr.

All these mean ‘you’re welcome’.

But what would you say if someone used a formal ‘thank you?’

Slightly more formal responses to thank you in German includes:

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Nichts zu danken!

When for instance you do a good job and your superior thanks you for it, you may say nichts zu danken, which means you’re welcome or rather ‘nothing to thank for’. 

This is appropriate to show humility or to state that what you did was your duty and so you were just playing your part.

It is also a response that is considered very courteous.

Gern geschehen!

When you do someone a favor and they thank you for it, you can say gern geschehen to mean ‘done gladly’, ‘it’s my pleasure’ or again ‘you’re welcome’.

It’s also very courteous and friendly and though it’s mostly used in formal occasions, you can use it casually too.

Keine Ursache!

A variation of nichts zu danken.

Keine Ursache translates to ‘no reason to mention it’.

For instance your friend may drop an item and you pick it up for them, and when they say ‘thank you’, you can just smile and say keine Ursache.

You will also hear the casual:

Kein Problem!

Kein means in this case ‘no’, and so kein Problem means ‘no problem’.

It is however, not limited to ‘thank you’.

It can also be used in a normal conversation to say, ‘sure’.

For instance, I may ask if you could help me learn German, and you could respond by saying, Na klar, kein Problem.

Go on and make your friends envy you!

Now that you know the above phrases, go ahead and be the envy of your friends.

As they all exhaust the common danke, you will be able to pull out many versions and they will wonder how you’re doing it.

 

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