When someone says ‘thank you’ to you, the normal reaction is to respond with ‘you’re welcome’. This is considered polite and because of this, it’s important to learn how to say ‘you’re welcome’ in German.
Fortunately this is quite straightforward. Like in English there are a few variations to the phrase and after reading this post you will know:
- 8 ways to say ‘you’re welcome’ in German
- How to use the different phrases depending on context with examples sentences
- How these phrases sound with audio
When to Say ‘You’re Welcome’ in German
So someone has just said danke to you, but how do you respond? It could be something as simple as holding the door open for someone but not knowing how to reply to this quick show of gratitude can leave you feeling awkward and a bit embarrassed.
Imagine if you found yourself in the same situation in English, you bring your empty coffee cup back for the waiter and he says ‘thanks’. However you don’t know the correct way to respond to this so you just stay silent: #awkward.
The following ways of saying ‘you’re welcome’ in German can be used whenever someone says danke to you.
Meaning: You’re welcome
Bitte is a word with many different meanings in German (including ‘please’). But in this situation, bitte also means ‘you’re welcome’ in German. If someone says danke to you, your best option is to respond with bitte.
It’s such a quick, simple word that before long you’ll be able to automatically respond with bitte without wasting brain power thinking about what to say.
That being said, there are a lot of other alternatives to choose from and if you want to expand your German and keep things interesting there are a few more options:
Bitte schön / Bitte sehr
Meaning: You’re very welcome
Bitte schön / bitte sehr are variations on bitte, and are a bit like saying ‘you’re very welcome’.
In fact, they are the counterparts to danke schön and danke sehr ‘thank you very much’ in German respectively. So if you thank someone using either danke schön or danke sehr, the other person will usually respond with either bitte schön or bitte sehr.
Gerne / Gern geschehen
Meaning: Gladly / with pleasure
Gerne is another word you’ll hear a lot in response to danke. It literally means ‘gladly’ or ‘done gladly’.
It carries a bit more weight than a simple bitte. So if you want to emphasise that the thing you did was absolutely no trouble and you did it happily, then use gerne.
Gern geschehen has the same meaning, but sounds a little more formal. Often people will just say gerne as it’s shorter.
|Danke, das war nett von dir.||Thanks, that was nice of you [informal]|
Meaning: No problem
A nice easy one for English speakers, kein Problem can be used in the same way as we use it in English. Although it’s used quite a bit, it doesn’t come close to a simple bitte or gerne as a way of saying ‘you’re welcome’ in terms of frequency.
Nichts zu danken
Meaning: Nothing to thank for
Nichts zu danken is a nice phrase if you are trying to be humble in your response to something. Maybe you felt what you did was minor and you didn’t need thanking for it. Think of it like the English phrase ‘don’t mention it’ or ‘it was nothing’.
|Danke, für die Hilfe beim Umzug.||Thanks for your help with the house move.|
|Nichts zu danken.||Nothing to thank for, you’re welcome.|
Meaning: No problem
Keine Ursache is a really humble way of saying ‘you’re welcome’ in German. Literally translated it means ‘no reason’ or ‘no basis’. It’s quite similar to the previous phrase and is used to imply that you either don’t want or feel you don’t deserve thanks for what you did.
|Danke für die Blumen.||Thank you for the flowers.|
|Keine Ursache, es war nichts.||No problem, it was nothing.|
How to Not Say ‘You’re Welcome’ in German
Since we’ve used the word ‘welcome’ a lot throughout this post, you may be wondering where the German word willkommen comes into all this.
Unlike in English, the German word for ‘welcome’, willkommen isn’t used in the same way. For example Sie sind willkommen (you are welcome) is incorrect. The only time willkommen is used is to give someone a greeting: herzlich wilkommen (heartfelt welcome) or willkommen in Deutschland (welcome to Germany).
Read next: How to Say ‘Thank You’ in German