The German language not only has more than 300.000 words, but there are also many formal and informal ways to express similar meanings or sentiments. Especially when it comes to being polite, choosing the right words can therefore be a challenge to those who learn German or find themselves in a German-speaking environment. While thanking someone for something is as straightforward as saying danke or dankeschön, there are a lot more variations when you want to reply to it. We have gathered 10 ways to say “you’re welcome” in German and will explain their different meanings and in which situations best to use them.
- Bitte schön / Bitte sehr
- Gern geschehen
- Mit Vergnügen
- Kein Problem
- Kein Ding
- Nichts zu danken
- Dafür nicht
- Schon gut
- Vergiss es
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The most accurate way to translate “You’re welcome!” is a simple bitte!. While it may be accurate, it is not used very often. Bitte! has a certain distant tone to it, which is why it is sometimes used in a bit more informal way as bitte bitte. Pay attention that the word bitte means two different things in German: It can be used to say both “please” and “you’re welcome”. As a result, you have to keep the context in mind when using the word.
2. Bitte schön / Bitte sehr
A more formal way to answer someone thanking you for something is bitte schön, or alternatively bitte sehr. In German, this translates to “you’re most welcome!”, and is often used in professional environments.
3. Gern geschehen
Gern geschehen, or sometimes shortened to gerne, roughly translates to “my pleasure”. It is a very common and polite way to respond to danke. You can use this expression in any context – it is used both in informal and formal environments.
4. Mit Vergnügen
Along the same lines of gern geschehen, yet even more friendly, is mit Vergnügen. It literally translates to “with pleasure”. Keep in mind that Germans, particularly in professional situations, can be a bit reserved, so they will rarely use this expression in this context.
5. Kein Problem
A bit less friendly yet commonly used is (gar) kein Problem, meaning “no problem (at all)”. Although it is less friendly, it is still a phrase you can use in both professional and private situations. Another way to say the same thing is keine Ursache.
6. Kein Ding
An informal way to say that something is no problem for you is kein Ding or kein Thema. Both can be loosely translated to “not an issue”. You can use this slang phrasing with friends or acquaintances, but it would not be appropriate to use, for example, in a work-related email.
7. Nichts zu danken
Nichts zu danken, sometimes informally written as nix zu danken, translates to “nothing to thank me for”. It is frequently used when the task you have done didn’t require much effort from your side.
8. Dafür nicht
A slightly more informal way to say “it’s nothing” or “nothing to thank me for” is dafür nicht. You will also encounter this expression written as nicht dafür or für das nicht. It is a colloquial way of responding to thanks, so you will encounter it mostly in spoken language.
9. Schon gut
While the literal translation of schon is “already”, this expression can be used to say “all good”. It is informally used and often implies that thanks are not necessary in the situation.
10. Vergiss es
Germans can sometimes become uncomfortable with over appreciation, as the culture is often more held-back. As a result, they may respond to thanks with vergiss es (forget about it) or even quatsch (nonsense). Although this may come across as impolite in professional situations, it can be commonly used among friends.
A phrase for every situation
As with most languages, knowing the translation of an expression is one thing – knowing when to use the right one is quite another. There are many ways to say the same thing and choosing your words in the right way can help you understand the context or sentiment of a situation. You may even encounter more ways in which to say “you’re welcome” in German – think of regional expressions or dialects.
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Anne is a German freelance writer and communication consultant. In addition to her job, she is founder and coach of the Dutch non-for-profit organization CLUB Coaching. Due to her work, she resides in both Germany and the Netherlands. Whenever her time is not occupied with communication in all its forms, she spends time with her six pets, gardening or being creative with fashion and design. You can follow her on LinkedIn.