As young kids, how to say thank you and please are one of the first things our parents teach us when we start engaging with the people around us. When we are in a foreign country as adults and have limited knowledge of the language, it is especially important to make an effort to learn these simple expressions.
While most Germans are excellent hosts, some locals do not look too kindly at foreigners, especially tourists, who insist on speaking English. So learning to be polite in their language shows your willingness to take a step towards them and learn about their culture.
Stay with us as we explore the many ways of saying thank you in German.
How to Say Thank you in German — At a Glance
Thank you very much
Thank you very much (Formal)
I am thankful to you
I am thankful to you (Formal)
Thank you that’s nice
Thank you, you too
Thank you very much
I thank you
I thank you (Formal)
Thank you in advance
All the Ways to Say Thank You in German
This is probably one of the first words you’ve learned. It’s the most common way of saying thank you in German. You might already know this simple and quick way of expressing thanks.
You can use danke in all occasions and say it to just about anybody.
Fun fact to impress your nerdy linguistic friends with: the word “danke” actually comes from “denken”, which means to think. When you think of someone fondly and are grateful to them, say “danke”.
What translates to something like “Thank you very much” is helpful in any situation where you are especially grateful. Someone helped you find the post office and went all the way with you so you don’t get lost? Say “Danke schön” and make their day.
Note — it’s two words when used as an expression, or one word (Dankeschön) when using it as a noun.
Read next: 18 Useful Ways of Saying I’m Sorry in German
Vielen dank is another way of saying thanks in German.
The phrase vielen Dank is slightly more formal than danke schön and you can use it in any situation in which you would like to express your heartfelt gratitude.
Maybe the nice lady from the bakery down the corner always gives you an extra big Brezel to start your day off. Say vielen Dank and let her know how much you appreciate it.
That being said, it’s highly unlikely that anybody will give you a Brezel out of the blue – if it happens to you, let us know!
Ich bin dir dankbar
The expression ich bin dir dankbar literally translates to “I am thankful to you”.
Using ich bin dir dankbar gives a more personal touch to your expression of gratitude.
Careful, dir indicates that you can use this expression only in an informal way, with friends, family or anybody else you are familiar and comfortable with.
Ich bin Ihnen dankbar
This variation of Ich bin dir dankban is used in a more formal context. The “Ihnen” indicates that you can use it with strangers, superiors at work or anybody that you don’t know very well.
When the friendly elderly neighbour offers to water your plants for you while you are out, write them a little thank you note and include Ich bin Ihnen dankbar.
This informal expression translates literally to “thousand thanks” in English. It’s a quick and easy informal way to express your gratitude. Maybe say “Tausend Dank” when someone helps you move your sofa into your new apartment. Actually, no, you should probably at least invite them over for dinner too. And make a new German friend since you’re already at it!
Read next: How to Say Good Morning in German
Danke, das ist nett.
“Thank you that’s nice” is a great way of thanking someone who does you a favor or goes out of their way to help you. When you drop your wallet on your way out of the supermarket and someone picks it up and gives it back – say “danke das ist nett”.
Danke, sehr aufmerksam
This expression translates to something like “thank you, very kind” in English and is mostly used in the context of dining out. Let’s say your waiter fills up your glass of water or brings you a napkin without you even mentioning it – say “danke, sehr aufmerksam” to let them know how grateful you are.
Read next: 14 Ways to Say Goodbye in German – Go Beyond Auf Wiedersehen
This expression means “Thank you, you too” and is particularly well suited for any situation in which you return good wishes.
Someone wishes you a great weekend? Say “danke, gleichfalls”. Someone says “Guten Appetit!” (enjoy your meal)? Say “danke gleichfalls”!
This rather formal expression roughly translates to something like “thank you very much”. It is most often used in writing, for example if you send a quick email to your co-worker thanking them for helping you to convince your boss of your awesome new idea.
Ich danke Dir
This literally means “I thank you” in English. Remember that “dir” indicates an informal relationship, so only use “Ich danke dir” for friends, family and people you are close with. You can also indicate why you thank them by saying “Ich danke Dir für” and completing the sentence.
Ich danke Ihnen
This is the alternative for saying “I thank you” in a more formal way. Use this in speaking or writing with strangers, superiors at work or just anybody you aren’t too familiar with. You can also include the reason for your gratefulness by saying “Ich danke Ihnen für…”.
Vielen Dank im Vorraus
This particular expression means “thank you in advance”. It is used mostly in writing. Say “vielen Dank im Vorraus” when you ask someone to forward you that email from a couple of weeks ago that got mysteriously lost in your inbox.
What happens when someone thanks you?
We’ve covered a ton of different ways of saying thank you in German. At this point, you might wonder, what if someone thanks ME, how do I respond to that? We got you covered here as well. Check out these different ways of saying “You’re welcome” and never experience a situation where you are stuck and simply don’t know what to say.
This might be confusing but bear with me for a moment: “bitte” means both “please” and “you’re welcome” in English. So when someone thanks you for doing them a favor, you can say “bitte” and they will immediately know what a super extra polite person you are!
Read next: 7 Different Ways of Saying Please in German
Do you see how this is similar to the “dankeschön” we looked at before? Bitteschön means something like “you are very welcome” in English. It is a rather informal expression and emphasizes just how grateful you are.
While “gern geschehen” doesn’t translate well in English, it is widely used in German speaking countries to say “you are welcome”. You can use it in any context and say it to just about anyone. Let’s say someone thanks you for the gift you got them for their birthday – say “gern geschehen” with a smile and go grab some birthday cake, you earned it.
“No problem” is frequently used to say “you are welcome”. Make sure to use this expression with a younger demographic and in a more informal context. You offer your seat to a pregnant woman on the subway and she says “danke”? Say “kein Problem” back.
This expression literally translates to “anytime”. You can use “jederzeit” if you don’t mind doing a favor for that person again. You helped someone not very tech-savy book a flight and they are eternally grateful to you? Say “jederzeit” and they will know that you will gladly do them another favor next time.
Da nicht für
What can be expressed as “don’t mention it” is primarily used in the North of Germany. Fun fact, in the rest of the country “dafür nicht” is much more common. Do you know that annoying person that says thank you over and over for the most minuscule things? Saying “da nicht für” is a great way of letting them know that it’s really not that big of a deal.
Make your parents proud and thank a person for how they help you. The lady who shows you the way in a new city, the barista who puts an extra shot of espresso in your coffee or the postman who goes out of his way to get your package all the way up to your door. Saying thank you with a smile can make a real difference in how people remember you.