Saying “yes” in German opens the door to many possibilities, richer experiences, and life’s surprises. It’s exciting to discover what’s behind the next door and become a part of what’s going on around you in a new language.
So, how do you say “yes” in German?
You might already know that the English word “yes” in German is translated as “ja” (pronunciation like “ya”). However, Germans don’t only use “ja” to agree, and it’s actually not the most common way to say “yes” in modern German culture.
If you have already learned the German “ja” and want to want to learn new German words for saying yes, or if you simply want to learn something new and interesting, keep on reading and find the best word and phrase for you.
In this post, we’ll look into different ways to say “yes” in German. There are many situations in which you might need this vocabulary – from talking to someone in the store to accepting a job offer. However, remember that there are many situations in which you shouldn’t be afraid to disagree.
Just like there are many ways that native English speakers use to say “yes,” there are similar ways to do that in German. For example, you can use something like an “mm-hm” (not to confuse with a sound like “mm-mm” when you’re going down with your voice in the end, and which means “no”). Nodding (nicken) to say yes and shaking your head (Kopf schütteln) to say no would have the same non-verbal meanings as they do in English.
The direct equivalent of the English word “yes” is a simple ja, which is as basic as it can be. The “j” has an English “y” sound, and the “a” is long (think of the word “car”).
Even if you’re you are just starting to learn German, you are probably already familiar with this word. Congratulations on this achievement! You’ve mastered the fundamentals. Now let’s take a look at some other ways of agreeing and approving in.
This might be the word that unites all the languages. Today, people all over the world use this word of agreement. So, it’s not a surprise that it’s a word to say “yes” in German, too. Some Germans pronounce it just like in English, some pronounce it in a more German way, like “oh-keh,” and some use both on different occasions.
When you hear someone use okay in a hesitating manner, it means they agree, but they’ve only just been convinced enough but may not be very sure – it’s not a very mind-made-up “yes.”
This slangy answer appears to be identical to its English equivalent, which makes it useful to say yes in German. However, you might want to avoid it on formal occasions.
We’re dipping our toes into the grammar of formally and informally addressing others. If you’re talking to a friend or someone you know, “Ich stimme dir zu” is a good option. When the other person is a stranger, older, or of a higher “status,” “Ich stimme Ihnen zu” would be appropriate.
But generally, you can just say “stimmt” or “da stimme ich zu” to avoid formal or informal language. Those phrases mean something like “right” or “I agree,” so there’s no “you” pronoun in it.
This is a very helpful German phrase that can help you keep the conversation running.
For example, when someone tells you about their life, you can back up what they’re doing with this phrase, so this will be a win-win situation. Also, when you don’t know what to say in a language you’re learning, you can take this phrase out of your pocket.
This common English phrase also works in German. The long version would be “Das klingt gut” but you might as well skip the word for “that” and just say “klingt gut.”
This is an interesting translation of the word “yes” in German. Not many people use it, and it sounds a bit old-fashioned, but they’d surely like it if you use it. You might come across this German word in older literature or movies, so it might be helpful to remember it.
Remember (or learn) that the “w” is actually pronounced like the English “v” and that there’s no English “w” sound in German.
You’ll hear this word being used all the time in a German-speaking countries.
There’s a fun fact about it: “Sicher” can mean “sure,” but it also means “safe”. Because of that, young Germans nowadays use the English word “safe” instead of “sicher” or “sure”. And they do that not only when answering, but even to say something like “I surely won’t do that”, which in proper German would be “Das mache ich sicher nicht.” Young Germans think they sound cool when they say “Das mache ich safe nicht”.
This is an informal way of saying that you’re convinced about something, or that everything is alright, and that you agree – but with a slight appearence of second thought and being not fully sure.
This word isn’t used too ofteen. It’s expresses a defenite “yes” without concern or any disposition. Come what may, it’s a “yes” – and it’s similar to a “yes, sir” in the military. The officers shout “jawohl” when receiving an order.
“Klar” means clear, and when you get that answer, it means that the answer was obvious and couldn’t be any different. A person might even mean that they are slightly offended that you even asked that question.
Adding “Na” is even more clear and obvious than just saying “klar”. This phrase is very often used in a rather sarcastic voice, when you want to express how obviously you don’t want something or how obviously you disagree. In that situation, the tone would be just slightly different. Listen to Germans and try to detect when they mean it as a definite yes or a definite no.
Answering “Warum nicht?” implies that that you’re open to whatever is suggested.
You’re not only agreeing, but you’re agreeing passionately. You’re all set to go.
This is another of the multiple ways to say “of course,” yet it can be either old-fashioned or regional. This word is very common in Bavaria and Austria, and in other parts, it might sound funny – but when a nonnative speaker says it, Germans might find it cute, and you might get a giggle.
“Ohne Zweifel” literally means “without doubt,” so it can be really easy to remember.
This word can also mean “for granted.” So when you answer “selbstverständlich,” you don’t only mean that you obviously say “yes” or “of course” – the “yes” is actually so obvious that it’s taken for granted.
It literally means “In any case,” implying that you’d definitely agree in any case. A more casual way to say that is to skip the word “Fall” (= case) and just reply with “auf jeden,” but you would rather do that in a company of friends and younger people.
This phrase means “of course,” but it can also mean “naturally.” Just like “naturally” can be used in the sense of “it comes naturally” or to say “yes” in English, it can be used the same way in German.
There’s no exact translation for this word. It’s a “yes” when someone presumes that it’s a no – for example when you need to answer a negative question. It’s kind of a disagreeing “yes” to someone’s “no.”
“I know you didn’t do your homework.” – “Yes, I did”
“Ich weiß, dass du deine Hausaufgebn nicht gemacht hast.” – “Doch, habe ich.”
“Did you do your homework?” – “Yes.” – “No, you didn’t!” – “Yes! (I did!)”
“Hast du deine Hausaufgaben gemacht?” – “Ja.” – “Nein, hast du nicht!” – “Doch!”
If you need more time to consider what you’re being asked, or if you understand clearly, but you just don’t know how you feel about it, try deferring your answer with the following careful responses:
könnte sein (Could be)
Learning German – or any other foreign language – can often be challenging. There’s a lot of grammar to master and a lot of new vocabulary to learn. For example, as you have seen above, there are at least 20 ways to say “yes” in German, and these are probably not all of them. And we’re just starting to learn important German words!
To make the language learning process a little more engaging, it’s best to look for helpful learning aid – for example, a language learning app, such as Readle to learn German or Langster to learn French. Check them out today, read a few stories in the language you’re learning, and see for yourself that this process can be both fun and effective.