Being able to say “yes” or “no” in the local language might be the most important thing when traveling to another country. Although saying “yes” in German can be a simple “ja”, there are many more nuanced ways to agree with someone. For example, in German you will find many dialects or slang words for “yes”, as the country consists of many culturally different regions. In addition, you might want to express absolute certainty in one situation or you are a bit more doubtful in another. Clearly there must be more than one translation for the German “yes” and we have listed the most important ones for you.
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1. Na klar
A very common way to agree with something someone has said is na klar, slang for “sure” or “of course”. Often you will also encounter this phrase as na or klar. Dialect versions, particularly of na, also exist: In Saxony, for example, locals say nu.
While the literal translation of natürlich is “naturally”, the word is much more often used to say “of course”. It is a bit more formal than other translations, so you are safe to use it in professional environments.
Sicher, translating to “sure”, is used when you want to express reassurance of someone’s statement. In spoken language, you will also sometimes encounter na sicher, which roughly translates as “of course” or “exactly”.
For this one, no translation is needed: saying “okay” in German means the exact same thing as it means in English. It is one of many anglicisms that you can find in the German language.
5. Das klingt gut
If someone proposes an idea or plan to you that you wholeheartedly agree with, you can say das klingt gut, meaning “that sounds good”. If Germans want to express that something works for them, they will also use the informal passt or das passt, translating to “(that) fits”.
This expression is a bit more complicated than the others when it comes to its translation: doch is only used to answer a negative question, then meaning “yes”. For example:
Sie ist nicht nach Deutschland gereist? – Doch!
She didn’t travel to Germany? – Yes, she did.
Although genau is also a commonly used adjective, Germans also use it to say “indeed” or “exactly”.
If you want to express very strongly that something will or should happen, or is self-evident, you can say selbstverständlich. It translates to “of course”, “absolutely” or, depending on the context, “obviously”.
This old-timey expression of “yes” is very common in history movies, which is why it is often assumed to be a common expression in Germany. This could not be more untrue! Germans will usually only say jawohl to ironically say “yes”, as in “yes Sir”.
If you are fairly certain of something but not entirely sure, you can say bestimmt, meaning “sure”. The word can also express a guess or a theory that you are almost certain of.
11. Auf jeden Fall
Translating to “in any case”, auf jeden Fall is a very common expression in Germany. It is used when you wholeheartedly agree with something. In German slang, it is also sometimes shortened to auf jeden.
As you can see, there are many ways to say “yes” in German, each one having its own meaning and particular uses. Although you can’t go wrong with any of those words, you should always keep in mind that Germany is a big country with many local expressions — so surely you will find more ways to say “yes” once you travel to a German-speaking country.
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Anne is a German freelance writer and communication consultant. In addition to her job, she is the 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.