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Just like in English, there are many ways to show you are grateful and to thank someone in German. While you would only use some phrases in person, there are others that are also commonly used in email and letters. How to say “thank you” in German then?
One of the first things you learn in any new language is how to be polite. As punctuality and formality are both important aspects of German culture, knowing a few phrases with which you can express your gratitude is both polite and shows respect and appreciation.
Whether you are chatting in German with someone online, traveling to Germany and interacting with shop attendants and servers in restaurants, collaborating with your German colleagues, or just thanking someone for helping you with directions, you can use the phrases below to show your gratitude.
As German and English are closely related, you’ll find that many ways to say thanks are quite similar to their counterparts in English.
(Photo by Courtney Hedger/Unsplash)
How to say “thank you” in German – the basics
These are the three phrases you will use every day in various situations to show your gratitude in German.
Danke! – the basic German “thanks”
While “Danke” by itself is considered casual and friendly, it can be used everywhere, similar to how you would use “thanks” in English. If you want to learn just a single way to say thank you, this is the best one to use with family and friends, when served in shops and restaurants or to thank a colleague.
💡Tip: To turn someone down politely with a “No, thank you”, say “Nein, Danke.”
Danke schön / danke sehr – “thank you very much”
“Danke schön” and “danke sehr” are a little more formal. These two phrases are often used in a business context or to express a little more gratitude than the simpler and shorter “Danke.”
“Thank you very much!” – an emphasis on gratitude and sincerity
You will hear the following phrases used a lot to say “thank you very much” in a wide range of situations. They all mean essentially the same thing, and can be used interchangeably. The only thing to be careful of is the politeness level of the pronoun – “dir” versus “Ihnen”.
Vielen Dank – “many thanks”
This is one of the more common phrases and is used in both casual and formal situations. You can’t go wrong with a “vielen Dank.”
Ich danke dir / Ihnen / euch – “my thanks to you”
In casual situations with friends or close colleagues, use “dir” or “euch” as the pronoun in this phrase. In a more formal business setting, or when talking to someone who is older or in a position of authority, make sure you use the polite pronoun “Ihnen.”
Vielen Dank noch mal / nochmals – “many thanks again”
“Noch mal” or “nochmals” literally means “once again”. Use this phrase to thank someone again in German after you have previously expressed your gratitude.
👉 The following phrases have more emphasis and show more emotion and enthusiasm.
Note: Be a little careful of how you use the stronger phrases below – if you use them when someone has done something small, or especially if they have done something you don’t really like, it will look like you are being sarcastic and rude.
Vielen, vielen Dank / vielen lieben Dank – “thank you very, very much”
How to say thank you in German and accentuate it? To show you are very grateful, add more emphasis with “vielen” or “vielen lieben”. You can also say “herzlichen Danke”, which means “my heartfelt thanks”, or “besten Dank”, which translates literally to “best thanks”, but also means “thank you very much.”
Tausend Dank – “thanks a million”
You wouldn’t say “thanks a million” in a business context, and neither is “tausend Dank” appropriate in such a situation. This phrase is very casual and typically reserved for friends and family.
Ich bin dir / Ihnen / euch dankbar – “I’m grateful to you”
This phrase can be used casually with friends, family and even close colleagues using “dir” or “euch” as the pronoun, or in a more formal business situation when you use “Ihnen.”
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“Thank you” in different situations
Just like in English, there are special phrases that you can use in specific situations to say thanks in German. Apart from knowing how to say thank you in German, you should also know how to respond by saying thanks.
“Thanks, you too!” – a response to good wishes
When someone says “Have a good weekend” or “Ich wünsche dir ein schönes Wochenende”, you would respond “thanks, you too!”
The following three phrases all mean the same and can be used interchangeably. If you want to use them in a more formal context, make sure you use the polite “Ihnen” as the pronoun.
- Danke, gleichfalls – “thanks, the same to you”
- Danke, ebenfalls / ebenso – “thank you, likewise”
- Danke, dir / Ihnen auch – “thanks, you too”
“Thank you in advance” – gratitude in emails
If you have asked someone for their help or to do something for you in an email or a letter, you will typically thank them for their future effort. Even in English, “in advance” is polite and formal, used more often in business than with friends and family.
💡Tip: Be cautious showing your gratitude in this way, as it can be a double-edged sword: You are more likely to get a response, but some people may take it as a passive-aggressive “I expect you to do this.”
While the very formal “Ich bedanke mich bei Ihnen im Voraus” is very formal, the following four phrases can be used more casually and share the same meaning.
- Vielen Dank im Voraus – “thank you very much in advance”
- Herzlichen Dank im Voraus – “my heartfelt thanks in advance”
- Besten Dank im Voraus – “many thanks in advance”
- Vorab (schon einmal) danke – “thank you in advance (once again)”
“Thanks” for specific things
Of course, you can thank people for specific things just as easily in German as you can in English.
Danke für … – “thank you for …”
You’ll use this phrase quite a lot: “Danke für deine Hilfe” or “thanks for your help”. Most commonly used with friends and family, this is also appropriate in any situation, as long as you swap the casual “deine” or “eure” for the more formal “Ihre” where appropriate.
To thank someone for considering your job application or project proposal in German, you can say “Danke für Ihre Berücksichtigung.”
If you have received a gift from a friend, “Danke für das Geschenk” is a good phrase to remember.
Vielen Dank, dass… – “many thanks, that …”
If you want to thank people for attending an event, remember this useful sentence: “Vielen Dank, dass Sie heute gekommen sind.”
Here are a few more examples of how to say thank you in German to people for specific things they have done for you. Phrases 1-4 are quite formal, the last two are also used casually.
- Danke für die Hilfe / Danke für die Zusammenarbeit – Thank colleagues for collaborative work.
- Danke für Ihre Treue – Thank customers for feedback and their loyalty.
- Danke für Ihre Mühe – Thank organizers after attending an event.
- Danke für das Zuhören – Thank the audience after giving a presentation.
- Danke für den schönen Abend – Thank friends or family for dinner.
- Danke, dass du so ein guter Freund bist – Thank friends for their friendship.
How to respond by saying “you’re welcome” in German
Just as in English, when someone thanks you, you are expected to respond politely. Below are the most common ways to say “you’re welcome.”
Bitte – “you’re welcome”
Although this literally means “please,” when you use it after someone has said “Danke,” it means “you’re welcome.”
Bitte schön / bitte sehr – “you’re very welcome”
“Bitte schön” and “bitte sehr” are slightly more formal. When someone says “Danke schön” or “Danke sehr,” reply with the matching “Bitte.”
Kein Problem – “no problem”
More casual, this is a common response to a friend or close colleague. You can say this or a number of other phrases with a similar meaning: “kein Ding” for “it was nothing”, and “jederzeit” for “any time”.
Sehr gern – “you’re very welcome”
If someone has thanked you enthusiastically, “sehr gern” is a good response.
Gern geschehen – “it’s been my pleasure”
Both “sehr gern” and “gerne geschehen” can be used in both casual and formal situations, but are most commonly heard in business settings.
(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)
Now that you’ve been equipped with how to say thank you in German and respond to others in German, if you want to further your German language learning, check our introduction to “The best way to learn German“. 💛