Thank You in GermanHow to Say Thanks

Expand your use of expressions, by learning more than one way to say thank you. Instead of 'Dankeschön', why not try 'Das hättest du nicht tun müssen'? Here are 5 ways to express gratitude or simply say "thanks" in German.

two bears hugging as if to say thank you
16.01.2023

How do you say thank you in German?

Or, more importantly, how many different ways to say thank you do you know in German? How would you thank someone in a formal situation, for example?

What would you say to a good friend? How do you express real gratitude? Let's find out! This is what we're covering:

Thank you in German

The German word for thank you is Dankeschön. If you're an absolute beginner who will just remember one thing from this blog post, let it be this: "Danke". That's the short version and it's appropriate in pretty much all contexts.

In Germany (or other German-speaking countries), you can never go wrong with "Danke" or "Dankeschön". Here's an example:

👩🏽‍🦱Amina

Danke, dass du mir so ein schönes Abendessen gekocht hast. Das ist wirklich sehr lieb von dir.

🧑🏼‍🦱Peter

Das mache ich wirklich gerne.

Saying "Danke" is perfectly acceptable in almost any situation you will encounter - unless someone just fought a pack of wolves for you and saved your life. In that case, you will want to use something stronger (if that's why you're here, go straight to "How can I ever possibly thank you?").

With "Danke" out of the way, let's now look at some other variations of saying thanks.

1. Thank you very much

After "Danke", let's continue with another very common way to say thanks in German: Thank you very much.

👨🏻‍🦰Jean

Möchten Sie den Kaffee mit Milch?

👨🏼‍🦳Peter

Ja, bitte. Vielen Dank!

The German equivalent to Thank you very much would be Vielen Dank. It's very polite but still casual enough for pretty much any situation. So you can say this to your boss, co-worker, a supermarket cashier or a friend.

2. Many Thanks (formal)

If you want to sound a bit more formal and adult, you could say "Danke vielmals" or "Herzlichen Dank". "Danke vielmals" means "many thanks", while "Herzlichen Dank" literally translates roughly as "cordial thanks".

👩🏽‍🦱Carla

Herzlichen Dank, dass Sie mir so geholfen haben, Frau Doktor Berger!

👩🏻‍⚕️Dr. Berger

Keine Ursache. Ich freue mich, dass ich helfen konnte.

Both expressions sound a bit more adult and formal though. You'd use them in restaurants or in more formal occasions (if at all).

You also hear older people more often use "Herzlichen Dank".

3. No thanks

Nein, danke.

👩🏽‍🦱Carla

Hast du Lust das ganze Wochenende mit mir und meinen Arbeitskollegen Brettspiele zu spielen?

🧔🏻Ryu

Nein, danke. Das klingt super langweilig.

Expressing Gratitude in German

Now, saying thank you in German is one thing, but sometimes you might want to express little a more gratitude or say thank you to someone in a more meaningful way, in case you feel a simple 'thanks' does not suffice.

We'll start of with a casual "I owe you one" and move on to more serious expressions of gratitude in German, like "I am very grateful" and "How can I ever possibly thank you?".

4. I owe you one

If you want to thank someone for having done you a big favour and you want to express that you will pay that favour back one day, you could use the German expression Ich bin dir etwas schuldig:

Du hast mir so viel geholfen, als ich meinen Job verloren habe. Ich bin dir etwas schuldig.

It's so kind that you looked after my dog for a week while I was on holiday. I owe you one!

Here is another example sentence:

Example sentence:

So nett, dass du eine Woche lang auf meinen Hund aufgepasst hast, während ich im Urlaub war. Ich bin dir etwas schuldig!

It's so kind that you looked after my dog for a week while I was on holiday. I owe you one!

5. You didn’t have to do that

Das hättest du nicht tun müssen! is another German expression that expresses gratitude and lets the other person know that you are grateful. The English translation is you didn’t have to do that. Be a little bit careful what situations you use this in, because some Germans might

Example sentence

Oh Connor, du hast mir Frühstuck ans Bett gebracht! Das hättest du nicht tun müssen!

Oh Connor, you brought me breakfast in bed! You didn't have to do that!

6. That is very helpful

Das ist sehr hilfreich / Das hilft mir sehr!

English equivalent: that is very helpful!

Example sentence

Ich finde es sehr hilfreich, wenn du langsam und deutlich sprichst.

I find it very helpful when you speak slowly and clearly.

7. I am very grateful

Ich bin dir sehr dankbar. Du hast mich vor den Wölfen gerettet.

I find it very helpful when you speak slowly and clearly.

8. How can I ever possibly thank you

Lastly, here's a very strong one. Don't use this at the supermarket.

🧑🏼‍🦱Peter

Du hast mich vor den hungrigen Wölfen gerettet. Wie kann ich dir bloß jemals danken?

🧔🏻Ben

Du könntest einen Arzt rufen, ich bin verwundet. Ich muss sofort ins Krankenhaus.

🧑🏼‍🦱Peter

Gute Idee, Ben!

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