Saying yes and no in German is quite simple. Most people know “ja” (“yes”) and “nein” (“no”), but there are other words that you can use to imply “yes and no”, without actually using those words. This will help spice up your German.
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But let us first look at how to pronounce yes and no in German.
So the questions “how do you say no in German” and “how do you say yes in German” sometimes only need a simple answer. In other words, sometimes people only want to know how to pronounce “ja” and “nein“.
How to pronounce “ja“:
How to pronounce “nein“:
Different versions of “ja“
Ways of saying it that are similar to English
1 “okay” (“okay”)
You probably recognise this one as it is the same in both German and English.
2 “natürlich” (“naturally”)
Like the previous example, this one, is very similar to the English equivalent.
1 “kein Problem” (“no problem”)
As you might have noticed, this one is a direct translation of its English equivalent.
2 “das Stimmt” (“that’s right”)
I think that the English translation makes this one self-explanatory, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t, leave a comment below and I’ll answer your questions.
3 “sicher” (“sure”)
This is quite a popular phrase in German, using it will make you sound like a native.
4 “jawohl” (“absolutely”, “affirmative” or “yes sir!”)
I often get the question “what is yes sir in German”. Well, here’s your answer. I think it sounds very military.
5 “das ist wahr” (“That is true”)
I mean, this one cannot always be used as a substitute for yes. But when answering a question asking if something is true, instead of opting for a simple “ja“, you can just say: “das ist wahr”.
6 “genau” (“exactly”)
When someone asks you, “Magst du mein Hemd?” (“Do you like my shirt?”), instead of “yes” you could simply say, “genau“. It is used in the same way that English people use “uh-huh”.
7 “das klingt gut” (“that sounds good”)
Once again the use of this one is the same in both languages. If someone were to pitch an idea to you and then ask if you think that it could work, instead of saying “yes”, you could answer with, “das klinkt gut“.
8 “gerne” (“gladly”)
If someone invited you to go to the movies with them, the saying “yes” in German could look like this, “gerne“.
9 “gewiss” (“certainly”)
As with many others, “gewiss” is used as “certainly” would be in English. Just remember that the “w” in German sounds very much like a “v” in English.
10 “0hne Zweifel” (“without a doubt”)
Once again we are confronted with a direct translation. This makes life so much easier for us, doesn’t it?
11 “freilich” (“sure!”)
There is no way that I would have guessed that “freilich” and “sure” are buddies. But they are and, thus, we are, like before, confronted with a direct translation.
12 “selbstverständlich” (“obviously”)
Like the previous phrase, I would never have guessed that these two are one and the same.
Options that are completely different between the languages
Sometimes how you say “yes” in German, is not a direct translation from the English version.
1 “zustimmen” (“to agree” with someone)
This option for yes in German is a separable-prefix verb. This means that you cannot use it as it is and you have to change it according to the sentence in which it is used.
2 “bestimmt” (“for sure”)
Use this one to make your answer even more definite, if it is possible for a yes to be a more definite yes.
3 “also gut” (“ok then”)
This one is definitely not a direct translation, as “also” means “so”, “thus” or “like” in English. It definitely does not translate directly to “okay”. The same goes for “gut“, which is not “then”, but “good”.
4 “klar” (“of course”)
“How to say of course in German?” is another question on a lot of German learners’ minds. Now you don’t have to wonder anymore, because this is your answer.
5 “auf jeden fall” (“definitely”)
Why on earth one word in English is three in German, no one knows, but using this phrase, will “auf jeden fall” make you sound more like a native.
6 “doch” (“yes”)
“Doch” is just one of those German words that are used for basically everything. In this case, however, it means “yes”. The catch is just that for “doch” to be “yes” in German, it has to be the answer to a negative question. For example:
Also, sie sind nicht einkaufen gegangen?So, they didn’t go shopping?
If they (whoever “they” are) did, however, do shopping you would just answer with, “doch“.
Different versions of “nein“
An Explanation as “No”
Germans often rather give an explanation to soften the blow when they are trying to be polite. For example, when someone asks you to the movies, you could say:
Leider habe ich keine zeit.Unfortunately, I do not have time.
They also tend to add “entschuldigung” or “tut mir leid“, which both mean I’m sorry. An example of this is:
Entschuldigung, leider habe ich keine zeit.I’m sorry, unfortunately, I do not have time.
Phrases for “No”
1 “auf gar keinen Fall” (“under no circumstances”)
This one is also one of the firmer ways of saying no.
2 “lieber nicht” (“rather not”)
To avoid a direct no, one could also use this as a version of no in German. Let’s use the same example as before (someone asking you to the movies). A possible answer could be:
Ich gehe lieber nicht ins Kino.I’d rather not go to the movies.
3 “nee” (“nope”)
This is a slight twist of the normal German word for “no” (“nein“) and is also used to soften the blow of saying “no”. An answer to the question: “did you go to the movies?” could be “nee“.
4 “nö” (“no”)
“Nö” is not used very often and is seen as one of the harsher ways to say no in German.
5 “nich” (“naw”)
This word comes from the German word for “not”, which is “nicht“.
6 “gar nicht” or “überhaupt nicht” (“not at all”)
This one speaks for itself. It is saying no with implying that it is out of the question, seeing as some people think that “no” is not a clear answer.
7 “absolut nicht” (“absolutely not”)
Well, this one is similar to the previous one.
Sometimes there are many ways to say the same thing. And sometimes the other ways could be more polite or in some cases firmer. What do you think? Can you think of any forms of yes and no in German that I did not put in here? Tell me in the comments and I’ll add it.
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