How to Ask for a Favor?

How do you ask someone for a favor in German? You basically have 2 options: You can go for the casual version or the formal version. Let's look at both in turn.


How do you ask someone for a favor in German? You basically have 2 options: You can go for the casual version or the formal version. Let's look at both in turn.

How to ask for a favor (casual)

If you want to ask a friend for favor, all you need to say is this:

Kannst du mir einen Gefallen tun?

Can you do me a favour?

The German word "der Gefallen" means favor in English and the way you use this is "jdn. einen Gefallen tun". Let's look at an example:

Hey Amina! Kannst du mir einen Gefallen tun?
Hey Amina! Can you do me a favor?
Klar, worum geht es?
Sure, what is it about?
Kannst du mir dein Fahrrad leihen? Ich bin spät dran und muss in 20 Minuten bei der Arbeit sein.
Can you lend me your bike? I'm running late and need to be at work in 20 minutes.

How to ask for a favor (formal)

If you were to ask your boss for a favor, you would turn the above question into it's formal form. You would say:

Können Sie mir einen Gefallen tun?

Or, to be even more polite you would say:

Könnten Sie mir (vielleicht) einen Gefallen tun?

Notice that the first version uses "Können", whereas the second, more polite version uses "Könnten". It's the difference between "Can you do me a favor?" and "Could you do me a favor?".

Lastly, you could also say:

Darf ich Sie (wohl) um einen Gefallen bitten?

Here, we use 'jemanden um etwas bitten' and the modal particle 'wohl' to smooth out this sentence and make it polite. Let's have a look at another example dialogue, this time using the formal version:

Entschuldigen Sie, Frau Berkel. Kann ich Sie wohl um einen Gefallen bitten?
Excuse me, Mrs. Berkel. Can I ask you for a favor?
Immer doch, Herr Gomez. Worum geht es denn?
Of course, Mr. Gomez. What is it about?
Für den Termin heute Nachmittag muss ich noch die Verträge prüfen. Könnten Sie mir die per E-Mail zusenden?
I still need to review the contracts for the meeting this afternoon. Could you send them to me via email?

To be on the safe side, we always recommend you use one of the more polite versions in formal settings.



/ Podcast

Explore Our Podcast

Explore our intermediate podcast about contemporary German culture, history, philosophy & more. Each episode is spoken at a slow pace, and includes a transcript.

About

Sloeful German is a language learning platform focused on immersive learning. We assist you in achieving fluency, through engaging content tailored to your level.
Downloads

Follow

Join Us

Tags