At the end of a long evening with friends, or maybe a relaxing evening with a loved one, it’s time to say ‘good night’ in German. Wishing someone ‘good night’ shows you care and adding an additional wish such as ‘sweet dreams’ increases the care factor even more.
You may have heard of other similar German phrases like guten Tag (good day / hello) but how do we actually say ‘good night’? After reading this post you will know:
- How to say ‘good night’ in German & the grammar behind the phrase ‘gute Nacht‘
- Other good night wishes such as ‘sweet dreams’
- How to ask if someone slept well and how to respond
Translation: Good night
Let’s start with the simplest expression. Gute Nacht translates as ‘good night’ in German and is used in the same way as the English phrase.
You can really see how English is a Germanic language by how similar the English and German phrases are.
The phrase gute Nacht is perfect for saying to anyone in the evening, whether it’s a friend or stranger. It can also have extra words added to it to aim it at certain people:
Gute Nacht alle zusammen
|Good night everyone
Gute Nacht mein Lieber / meine Liebe
|Good night my dear (male / female)
Gute Nacht mein Liebling
|Good night my darling
Gute Nacht liebe Freunde
|Good night my friends
You could also add the phrase bis morgen (until tomorrow / see you in the morning):
Gute Nacht, bis morgen
|Good night, see you tomorrow
Why do we say ‘gute Nacht’ instead of ‘guten Nacht’?
You might have noticed that the phrase gute Nacht differs from the other similar phrases guten Morgen (good morning), guten Tag (good day) and guten Abend (good evening).
So why do we say gute Nacht instead of guten Nacht?
Well in this phrase we have an adjective, gut (good) appearing in front of a noun, Nacht (night). When this happens the adjective has to take a certain ending, depending on the gender of the noun it’s appearing in front of.
The noun die Nacht (the night) is feminine, therefore the adjective has to add an ‘e’ ending: gute.
The nouns der Morgen (the morning), der Tag (the day) and der Abend (the evening) are all masculine nouns, therefore the adjective takes an ‘en’ ending: guten.
This is why guten Morgen, guten Tag and guten Abend are the same but gute Nacht is different.
You can read more about German adjectives here.
Nacht / Nachti
Translation: Night / nighty night
The usual phrase gute Nacht can be shortened to a simple Nacht! which can be used in a casual way to say good night to friends.
On the other hand Nachti is a really cute way of saying good night in German to a loved one. German is quite fond of adding an ‘i’ to the end of some words to make them sweeter.
Translation: Sleep well
After you’ve said ‘good night’ in German, you can follow it up with schlaf gut. Just like the English expression, it is a cute thing to say to someone you are close to, translating as ‘sleep well’ in German.
Meaning: Sweet dreams
An even sweeter expression is schöne Träume (nice dreams). It’s English equivalent is ‘sweet dreams’. You’d say this to someone you are very close to, maybe a partner or child, just before going to sleep.
Just like the phrase gute Nacht, the adjective (schön) comes before the noun (Träume) so the adjective takes the appropriate ending, in this case die Träume (the dreams) is a plural noun, so the adjective takes an -e ending: schöne Träume.
Like schlaf gut, schöne Träume can also be added on after gute Nacht, so you have a longer phrase:
Gute Nacht, schöne Träume
|Good night, sweet dreams
Translation: Sleep nicely / sleep tight
As an alternative to schlaf gut, you could say schlaf schön, which translates as ‘sleep tight’ or ‘sleep well’ in German.
Träum (et)was schönes
Translation: Dream something nice
Another way of saying ‘sweet dreams’ in German would be to say träum etwas schönes. Again this would be reserved for a partner or child as it’s a very sweet expression. In German etwas means ‘something’ but it is commonly shortened to was, so be prepared to see both etwas and was in common use.
Hast du gut geschlafen?
Translation: Did you sleep well?
If you meet up with someone the next morning, a nice thing to ask is: hast du gut geschlafen? I tend to use this for friends when we’ve stayed in a hotel or somewhere away from home. Because we are using the du informal form, it’s best to reserve this for friends.
If you want to say this to someone more formally you could ask: Haben Sie gut geschlafen?
Another way of asking would be:
Ich hoffe, du hast gut geschlafen
|I hope you slept well (informal)
Ich hoffe, Sie haben gut geschlafen
|I hope you slept well (formal)
If someone asks you this, and you did get a good night’s sleep, you can answer with:
Ja, ich habe gut geschlafen
|Yes I slept well
Nein, ich habe nicht gut geschlafen
|No I didn’t sleep well
Ja, ich habe wie ein Stein geschlafen (idiom)
|Yes I slept like a stone
Useful Sleep Vocabulary & Phrases
|to fall asleep
|to doze off
Ich muss schlafen
|I need to sleep
Ich bin sehr müde
|I’m very tired
Ich bin im Eimer (idiom)
|I’m in the bucket (I’m exhausted)
Er ist eingeschlafen
|He’s fallen asleep
Du siehst hundemüde aus
|You look dog-tired (informal)
So now you know all the different ways to say ‘good night’ in German, how to ask someone if they slept well and how to respond. You also know how some adjectives need to take certain endings such as gute Nacht and schöne Träume.