Please and thank you – “Bitte und Danke” – The Explanation and Definition of their use in German

Please and thank you – “Bitte und Danke” – The Explanation and Definition of their use in German

As you should already know, manners are one of the most essential factors in learning a new culture and social norms. As a foreigner and a newcomer to a language or country, you are guaranteed to come across confusing circumstances. It is when you have the ‘deer in the headlights’ look and have no idea what to do, someone comes to your linguistic rescue. After such a kindness, it is necessary to express gratitude. In German, that can be a tad tricky. You are presented with a number of options to show appreciation, but there are two main phrases: ‘danke’ (thank you) or ‘bitte’ (you’re welcome).

Danke (für + Accusative)           

Accusative Definite Articles

(The)

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
DenDieDasDie

 

Accusative Indefinite Articles

(A/An)

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
eineneineeinxxx

Note: The ‘object’ or the second subject in the sentence must always be in dative with the verb of “Danken”

Dankeschön! -> Thanks!

Danke sehr! -> Thanks very much!

Vielen Dank! -> Thanks a lot!

  • These are some of the common phrases to say thank you. When going to stores and talking with other people, these phrases are extremely useful!

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Herzlichen Dank! ->Thank you very much!

Besten Dank! ->With best thanks!

Danke, gleichfalls! -> Thanks same to you

  • Both of these expressions are considered friendlier in comparison to the three above.

Ich danke dir/Ihnen. -> Thank you.   *DATIVE

  • This is more of a formal form to day thank you, especially when using Ihnen in the sentence.

Nochmals danke! -> Thanks again!

Danke nochmal! -> Thanks again!

  • This is to repeat and emphasize your appreciation

Danke im Voraus! -> Thanks in advance!

  • This is to share your appreciation for something that will be done in the future.

What is the Difference Between Thank You and Thank You?

In German, there are technically two verbs that both mean “thank you”. As a native English speaker, this is an odd concept that is difficult to translate. There is ‘danken’ and ‘sich bedanken’.

Danken:

Dative Definite Articles

(The)

MasculineDem
FeminineDer
NeutralDem
PluralDen
Dative Indefinite Articles

(A/An)

MasculineEin
FeminineEine
NeutralEinem
Pluralxxx

This is used more as the common use of the verb ‘to thank’ directed towards another person

  • Remember: it requires the use of the dative case

Example:

  • Er sagt mir Danke -> He said thanks to me
    • Why Danke? This is used the verb to thank and it is directed towards someone else.
  • Danke für die Hilfe! -> Thanks for the help!
    • Why danke? This is also used in the normal verb tense and directed towards another person.

Sich Bedanken:

Dative Definite Articles

(The)

MasculineDem
FeminineDer
NeutralDem
PluralDen

 

Dative Indefinite Articles

(A/An)

MasculineEin
FeminineEine
NeutralEinem
Pluralxxx

 

Reflexive Pronouns
ichmich
dudich
er/ siesich
wiruns
ihreuch
Sie/sie (form./pl.)sich
  • This is used when there is a reflection of gratitude from the subject of the sentence.
  • Notice that with the verb ‘bedanken’ is the reflexive ‘sich’ attached.
  • The standard preposition for ‘sich bedanken’ is ‘bei’, which always require the dative form

Example:

  • Er bedankt sich bei mir für die Hilfe. -> He expressed his gratitude to me for the help

Bitte

There are a number of ways to say “you’re welcome” ranging from colloquial to formal. Take a look at some examples!

‘Bitteschön!’ -> You’re welcome!

‘Bitte sehr!’ -> You’re very welcome!

‘Sehr gerne!’ -> With pleasure!

‘Gerne geschehen!’ -> With pleasure!

‘Bitte, bitte!’ -> Welcome!

‘Kein Ding!’ -> No problem!

‘(Ja/Na) Klar!’ -> Of course!

‘Gerne!’ – With pleasure!

‘Immer wieder gerne!’ ->Always a pleasure

‘Es war ist/mir ein Vergnügen!’ -> It is/was a pleasure!

‘Nichts zu danken!’ -> Don’t thank me!

‘Nicht der Rede wert!’ -> Don’t mention it!

Bitten vs. Bitte sagen

Having the two options of ‘bitten’ and ‘bitte/bitte sagen’ can be a hard concept to grasp at first. Although the two may seem like the same, there is a slight difference between them.

Bitten is considered the more formal and polite way of addressing someone. The preposition that goes along with it is ‘um’ which require the accusative case. When used in a secondary dependent clause, it is often used with the preposition zu+ infinitve.

Ich bitte dich, mir zu helfen. ->I am asking you to help me.

Kannst du mir bitte helfen? -> Can you please help me?

Ich bitte dich um Hilfe. ->  I am asking for help

Bitten is also conjugated irregularly

Presence: ich bitte, du bittest, er/sie bittet etc.

Preterite: Ich bat, du batst, er bat etc.

Perfect: ich habe ihn (um+ accusative) gebeten

The noun for bitten is ‘die bitte’

The equivalent of ‘danke/danke sagen’ and ‘sich bedanken’ is simply ‘bitte/bitte sagen’

Das Kind sagte Bitte/bitte zu der Frau.

You are now ready to go the grocery store, in the street when asking for directions, or  and start a phone call polite conversation with the average German speaker.

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