Danke Schön vs. Vielen Dank: Understanding the Variations of Thank You in German

Bodhi Ramos10 min
Created: Sep 15, 2023Last updated: Feb 28, 2024
Thank You in German

German people are known for their politeness, and gratitude takes a special place in this country. Hence, there are many phrases for saying thank you German way. Some of them are used in daily conversations, while others are appropriate for more formal settings. In today’s article, we’ll explore different expressions of gratitude in German and learn the best ways to respond to them.

Different Forms of German Thank You Phrases

Like in many other countries, in Germany, people use different phrases for diverse settings. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of various ways to express gratitude in German. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Formal Ways of Saying Thank You in German Language

Let’s start with more formal expressions. Those are suitable for official settings, like business meetings, interactions with older people, strangers, colleagues, etc. Here are five of the most popular formal gratitude phrases in German.

  • Vielen Dank – [ˈfiːlən ˈdaŋk] – Thank you very much.

How do you say thank you very much in German? Now you have the answer! You can use this phrase when expressing gratitude professionally or formally. It is also a great way to say thank you in written communication like emails or letters. For example:

Vielen Dank für Ihre Unterstützung bei unserem Projekt. (Thank you very much for your support of our project.)

  • Ich bin Ihnen dankbar – [ɪç bɪn ˈiːnən ˈdaŋkbaʁ] – I am grateful to you.

This is another great phrase for expressing deep gratitude in a formal setting, in professional or business contexts. You can also use it to show appreciation for a specific act of kindness. For example:

Ich bin Ihnen dankbar für Ihre großzügige Spende. (I am grateful to you for your generous donation.)

Wir sind Ihnen dankbar für Ihre hervorragende Arbeit. (We are grateful to you for your outstanding work.)

Ich bin Ihnen sehr dankbar für diese Gelegenheit. (I am very grateful to you for this opportunity.)

  • Ich danke Ihnen – [ɪç ˈdaŋkə ˈɪnən] – I thank You.

This phrase is a polite way to say thank you in professional settings. It can only be used when you are showing appreciation directly to someone. For example:

Ich danke Ihnen für Ihr Vertrauen. (I thank you for your trust.)

Ich möchte Ihnen persönlich danken. (I want to thank you personally.)

Ich danke Ihnen für Ihre Großzügigkeit. (I thank you for your generosity.)

  • Vielen Dank im Voraus – [ˈfiːlən daŋk ɪm ˈfoːʁaʊs] – Thank you very much in advance.

This phrase is used when you want to thank someone preemptively for a future favor or help. It will be a great way of expressing gratitude in emails, letters, or requests for assistance. While it is mostly used in professional and formal communication, it can also suit informal settings. For example:

Ich bedanke mich im Voraus für Ihre Antwort. (I thank you in advance for your reply.)

Vielen Dank im Voraus für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit. (Thank you very much in advance for your attention.)

  • Vergelt’s Gott – [fɛɐ̯ˈɡɛlts ˈɡɔt] – May God reward you.

This expression is a traditional way to express gratitude in certain German-speaking regions. Mostly, this phrase is used in religious or cultural contexts, but sometimes it can be used in formal or professional settings. This way of saying thank you is popular in the Southern regions of the country. For example:

Der Obdachlose sagte zu dem Spender, “Vergelt’s Gott.” (The homeless person said to the donor, “May God reward you.”)

Die ältere Dame bedankte sich mit den Worten “Vergelt’s Gott.” (The elderly lady expressed her thanks with “May God reward you.”)

Nach der großzügigen Spende sagte der Pastor, “Vergelt’s Gott.” (After the generous donation, the pastor said, “May God reward you.”)


Informal Ways of Saying Thank You in German Language

And now, it is time to explore informal expressions of gratitude in German. They are typically used in casual settings among friends, family members, and close acquaintances. Informal expressions of thanks can vary widely in tone and style, often reflecting the warmth of personal relationships. Here are nine popular colloquial gratitude phrases in German:

  • Danke – [ˈdaŋkə] – Thank you.

This is the most common phrase for saying thanks in German. It can be used in everyday, casual conversations with friends and family. You can choose this word to express gratitude for simple favors or gestures. It is commonly utilized in informal settings. For example:

Danke für die Einladung zur Party! (Thanks for the invitation to the party!)

Danke, dass du immer für mich da bist. (Thanks for always being there for me.)

  • Danke schön – [ˈdaŋkə ʃøːn] – Thank you kindly.

This phrase can also be used in informal settings to express extra gratitude. It is a perfect choice when you want to emphasize your thanks. The expression is suitable for casual conversations. For example:

Danke schön für das Geburtstagsgeschenk! (Thank you kindly for the birthday gift!)

Das war wirklich hilfreich, danke schön. (That was really helpful, thank you kindly.)

Danke schön, dass du vorbeigekommen bist. (Thank you kindly for stopping by.)

  • Ich danke dir – [ɪç ˈdaŋkə diːɐ̯] – I thank you.

This phrase is mostly used in informal conversations to express personal gratitude between friends or close acquaintances. Remember to use it only when you want to convey thanks directly. For example:

Ich danke dir für deine Freundschaft. (I thank you for your friendship.)

Du hast mir sehr geholfen, ich danke dir. (You’ve helped me a lot, I thank you.)

Ich danke dir für die schöne Zeit gestern. (I thank you for the wonderful time yesterday.)

  • Danke vielmals – [ˈdaŋkə ˈfiːlˌmaːls] – Many thanks.

It is another great phrase to use in informal settings to express abundant gratitude, especially when you want to emphasize your thanks. This expression is suitable for interactions between both friends and strangers. For example:

Danke vielmals für deine großzügige Unterstützung. (Many thanks for your generous support.)

Das war wirklich nett von dir, danke vielmals. (That was really kind of you, many thanks).

Danke vielmals, dass du immer für mich da bist. (Many thanks for always being there for me.)

  • Tausend Dank – [ˈtaʊzənt daŋk] – A thousand thanks.

Similar to the previous one, this phrase can be used in informal settings to say thank you very much in German and convey heartfelt appreciation. For example:

Tausend Dank für deine großartige Hilfe. (A thousand thanks for your outstanding help.)

Du hast mir heute sehr geholfen, tausend Dank! (You’ve helped me a lot today, a thousand thanks!)

  • Wie nett von Ihnen – [viː nɛt fɔn ˈʏnən] – How kind of you.

You can use this phrase to express appreciation for a thoughtful gesture or favor. It is suitable for showing gratitude in friendly interactions and acknowledging kindness in informal conversations. For example:

Wie nett von Ihnen, mir beim Umzug zu helfen! (How kind of you to help me move!)

Das Geschenk war eine Überraschung, wie nett von dir! (The gift was a surprise, how kind of you!)

Wie nett von Ihnen, an meinen Geburtstag zu denken! (How kind of you to remember my birthday!)

  • Danke, gleichfalls – [ˈdaŋkə, ˈɡlaɪ̯çˌfals] – Thank you, likewise.

This phrase should be your go-to choice to reciprocate thanks. It is suitable for situations when you want to wish someone well in return in casual interactions. For example:

Q: Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag. 

A:Danke, gleichfalls!

(Q: I wish you a great day. A: Thank you, likewise!)

  • Danke, sehr aufmerksam – [ˈdaŋkə, zeːɐ̯ ˈʔaʊfmɐksam] – Thank you, that is very kind of you.

This phrase is used in informal settings to acknowledge someone’s thoughtfulness and express gratitude for a kind gesture or attention. For example:

X: Ich habe dir einen Kaffee mitgebracht. 

Y: Danke, sehr aufmerksam!

(X: I brought you a coffee. Y: Thank you, that’s very kind of you!)

Danke, dass du heute für mich gekocht hast. Das war sehr aufmerksam. (Thanks for cooking for me today. That was very kind of you.)

  • Herzlichen Dank – [ˈhɛʁtslɪçən daŋk] – Heartfelt thanks.

The last phrase in our list is used in informal settings to express warm and sincere gratitude. It is a perfect choice in situations when you want to convey deep appreciation. For example:

Herzlichen Dank für die Überraschungsparty! (Heartfelt thanks for the surprise party!)

Wir möchten dir herzlichen Dank aussprechen. (We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to you.)

Herzlichen Dank für deine Unterstützung in schweren Zeiten. (Heartfelt thanks for your support in tough times.)

Exploring Different Forms of German Thank You Phrases

Responding to Thanks in German Language

Whether you’re engaging in formal or informal conversations, knowing how to respond appropriately when someone thanks you in German can help you build positive relationships and navigate social interactions smoothly. That is why now we’ll explore common ways to respond to gratitude in German. Take a look at these typical phrases and examples!

  • Bitte – [ˈbɪtə] – You’re welcome.

Q: Danke für deine Hilfe! 

A: Bitte. 

(Q: Thanks for your help! A: You’re welcome.)

  • Kein Problem – [kaɪ̯n ˈpʁoːbl̩m] – No problem.

Q: Entschuldigung für die Verspätung.

A: Kein Problem.

(Q: Apologies for being late. A: No problem.)

  • Bitte schön – [ˈbɪtə ʃøːn] – You’re very welcome.

Q: Danke schön für das Geschenk!

A: Bitte schön.

(Q: Thank you very much for the gift! A: You’re very welcome.)

  • Gern geschehen – [ɡɛʁn ˈɡəˈʃeːən] – My pleasure.

X: Danke, dass du mir geholfen hast. 

Y: Gern gemacht. 

(X: Thanks for helping me. Y: My pleasure.)

  • Nichts zu danken – [nɪçts tsuː ˈdaŋkən] – Nothing to thank for.

Q: Danke für deine Zeit. 

A: Nichts zu danken. 

(Q: Thanks for your time. A: Nothing to thank for.)

  • Immer wieder gerne – [ˈɪmɐ ˈviːdɐ ˈɡɛʁnə] – Always happy to.

X: Danke, dass du mir zugehört hast. 

Y: Immer wieder gerne. 

(X: Thanks for listening to me. Y: Always happy to.)

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In conclusion, the German language is not just a collection of words and grammar rules; it’s a gateway to a rich and diverse culture. And one of the most fundamental aspects of any culture is how people express gratitude. In this article, we’ve explored the multifaceted world of saying thank you in Germany, from formal expressions suitable for business meetings to informal phrases used among friends and family.

We hope that this article was helpful, and you’ve expanded your vocabulary with a few useful gratitude expressions in German. Always remember to practice and use these phrases in real interactions, and when the time comes to express gratitude, you’ll confidently answer with the perfect words for the occasion. Vielen Dank for joining us on this journey!


Are there regional variations in how people express gratitude in German-speaking countries?

Yes, there are indeed regional variations in how people express gratitude within German-speaking countries. While the core expressions remain consistent across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, there are subtle differences in usage. For example, in the Swiss German-speaking part, “Merci” is commonly used alongside the standard “Danke.”

Are there any non-verbal ways of expressing gratitude?

In German culture, non-verbal cues play an essential role in conveying gratitude. Some of the most common ways of showing appreciation include hand gestures, pats on the back, nodes of the head or slight bows, and genuine smiles. Also, offering a small gift, such as flowers or chocolates, is a tangible way to express gratitude.

How does the tone of voice affect the meaning of “Danke” in German?

The tone of voice can significantly influence the meaning of any expression of gratitude in German. For instance, saying “Danke” with a smile and a warm tone expresses heartfelt thanks. However, just like in any language, a sarcastic tone can flip the meaning entirely. If someone says thank you sarcastically, they are likely not expressing genuine gratitude but rather the opposite.

Is it essential to learn how to say thank you in German?

W​​hile it may not be absolutely essential for everyone to learn how to say thank you in German, it is generally considered a beneficial and courteous skill. If you have an interest in the German language or culture, or plan to travel or work in German-speaking regions, it reflects positively on you as a respectful and culturally aware individual.


Lara MccallOct 19th, 2023
Thanks for sharing!