DON’T Say DANKE in German! Say THESE 5 Alternatives Instead!

DON’T Say DANKE! Say THESE 5 Alternatives Instead!

DENISA (in different situations)
Danke! Danke! Danke!
(Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)

There is nothing wrong with saying danke in German (thanks). But maybe we should switch it up from time to time. There are more alternatives depending on the context. Let’s look at 5 of them. Ich bin Denisa von Spring German. Bist du bereit? Los geht’s!

1. Danke schön (Thank you very much)

VANESSA
Wir waren mal zusammen im Disneyland. Weißt du noch?
(We were together in Disneyland. Do you remember?)

DENISA
Ja?
(Yes?)

VANESSA
Ich habe hier noch ein kleines Geschenk für dich.
(I have a gift for you here.)
DENISA
Wow, danke schön. Das war doch nicht nötig.
(Wow, thank you very much. This wasn’t necessary.)

Danke schön” (thanks a lot) literally translates to “thank you very much” or “thanks a lot” in English. It is a more enthusiastic and appreciative way of expressing gratitude, compared to just “danke” (thank you).

Chunk alert!
Today’s chunk is “Weißt du noch?” (Do you remember?) Normally, this chunk is used at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

Weißt du noch, als wir Kinder waren? (Do you remember when we were kids?)

It’s often used um in Erinnerungen zu schwelgen (to indulge in memories/ to reminisce).

Germans often use it after the context and just say Weißt du noch? (Do you remember?).

Paul ist einmal auf den Kopf gefallen. Weißt du noch? (Paul once fell on the head. Do you remember?)

For more helpful chunks, check our free essential German chunking kit.

2. Danke dir / Danke Ihnen (Thank you (informal / formal))

KELLNERIN
Hier ist dein Kuchen. Guten Appetit.
(Here’s your cake. Enjoy your meal.)

DENISA
Danke dir.
(Thank you.)

Danke dir (thank you) means “thank you” in a more informal context and is used when addressing someone you know well, like a friend, family member, or someone your age. In this dialogue the waitress was my age, so I said Danke dir (thank you).

If someone is older than you, or you don’t know them well, you can say “Danke Ihnen” (thank you (formal)). This comes from the formal pronoun Sie (you (formal)). My co-teacher Brunhild made a whole video about this topic, which you can check out right here.

Now, let’s see how you say thank you when the person is older than you or a stranger.

3. Danke sehr (Thanks a lot)

KELLNER
Hier ist dein Salat. Guten Appetit.
(Here’s your salad. Enjoy your meal.)

DENISA
Danke sehr.
(Thanks a lot.)

Danke sehr” (thanks a lot) translates to “thanks a lot” in English. It is a polite and formal way to express gratitude, suitable for addressing strangers, elders, or people you want to show respect to.

There are two words for “much” in German: sehr und viel (much and much)

  • dehr (very/much) means “much” and is used to emphasize the degree or intensity of something.
  • Das Essen ist sehr lecker (The food is very delicious)
  • viel (much/a lot) is used to describe a large quantity or amount.
  • Ich habe viel Arbeit (I have a lot of work)

Now you learned danke sehr (Thank you very much). But you can also say vielen Dank (many thanks).

4. Vielen Dank / Herzlichen Dank (Many thanks / warm thanks)

vielen Dank” (many thanks) means “many thanks” or “thank you very much.”

herzlichen Dank” (warm thanks) translates to “heartfelt thanks” or “warm thanks.”

Both phrases are formal and are used to express deep appreciation in various contexts. They can also both be used in the same context as Danke sehr (thank you very much). They are all more formal versions than just danke (thanks).

BOSS
Ich gratuliere zur Beförderung.
(I congratulate you to your promotion.)

DENISA
Vielen herzlichen Dank.
(Thank you very very much.)

See what I just did there? I mixed them both to express my gratitude. If you want to sound really fluent, you can also use “Tausend Dank” (lit. a thousand of thanks). This is used the same as Herzlichen Dank (warm thanks) or Vielen Dank (many thanks).

Now over to our slang alternative.

5. Merci dir (Thank you) – A slang alternative for danke in German

Let’s look at a slang alternative: Merci dir (Thank you). This one we stole from the French. It’s used informally, especially in regions near the French border or in areas with a strong French influence. In Bavaria, for example, you will hear it a lot.

DENISA
Hier Michael, dein Bier.
(Here Michael, your beer.)

MICHAEL
Merci dir.
(Thank you.)

Fun fact:

A lot of young people write Danke (thanks) with two or three “e’’s (Dankeee) to show how thankful they are. Some even replace the e with ö or ä which looks like this: Danköö or Dankää

But remember, they only use it when writing, so don’t use it in a conversation.

If you want to show that you’re thankful without using Danke (thanks) in any kind of way, you can say sentences like:

  • Das weiß ich sehr zu schätzen (I appreciate it a lot)
  • Das wäre doch nicht nötig gewesen (This wasn’t necessary)

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