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.
But how do we say these common phrases in German?
Translation: Good night
Let’s start with the simplest expression. Gute Nacht translates exactly as the English phrase ‘good night’ and is used in the same way.
Since we are using an adjective (gut) before a noun (Nacht) the adjective needs to take the appropriate ending. The noun (Nacht) is feminine, therefore we add an ‘e’ to the adjective: gute. You can read more about German adjectives here.
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:
- alles zusammen = Good night everyone
- mein Lieber / meine Liebe = Good night my dear (male / female)
- mein Liebling = Good night my darling
- liebe Freunde = Good night my friends
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 / good’.
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. Again the adjective (schön) comes before the noun (Träume) so the adjective takes the appropriate ending (in this case an ‘e’ = schöne).
Like schlaf gut, schöne Träume can also be added on after gute Nacht, so you have a longer phrase:
- Gute Nacht, schöne Träume
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 danke, ich habe wie ein Stein geschlafen. (Yes thanks, I slept like a stone.)
You can find this idiom and many others in my German Idioms post.
So now you know how to say ‘good night’ in German and also how to ask if someone slept well.