Languages usually have a number of different ways to say ‘yes’, and German is no exception.
From shorter, slang terms to longer, more formal phrases, there’s a range of affirmations you can learn.
Variety is key to sounding like a native speaker, which is why I’ve created this guide detailing a whole bunch of ways to affirm things in German.
You might also like to follow this up with our guide on how to say ‘no’ in German.
How to say ‘yes’ in German
Let’s start this off with a few common ways of saying ‘yes’ in German.
The most literal translation for ‘yes’ in German is ja (pronounced “ya”).
But simply repeating ja all the time can make you sound a little odd and disinterested, and far from the impressive fluent German speaker you want to be. That’s why it’s crucial to spice it up a bit and have a few phrases in your locker to pull out when the time is right.
Check out these fairly common, fairly simple ways of saying ‘yes’ in German.
|Yes, please.||Ja, bitte.|
|No problem.||Kein Problem.|
|That’s true.||Das ist wahr.|
|Ok, cool.||Also gut.|
|Of course!||(Na) klar!|
These are all great expressions for when you’re agreeing with someone or you just want to show them you’re listening.
Now, let’s see some of those phrases in action. How can you use these sentences to respond to people? We’ve outlined some example sentences below for you to practice your affirmations.
Darf ich reinkommen?
Gehen wir jetzt links?
Gehen wir morgen nach Hause?
More ways to say ‘yes’ in German
Of course, these aren’t the only ways of saying ‘yes’ in German. There are so many more words and phrases out there that you can use as affirmative statements.
Some are colloquial turns of phrase, others are more formal, while some are emotive and enthusiastic expressions.
While most can be used in a variety of contexts, it’s important that you take care when using certain words over others. This way, you can avoid sounding too over-the-top or not enthusiastic enough.
Human interaction is so nuanced that perhaps it’s too difficult to pay attention to every single subtlety, but there’s still a time and a place for every phrase.
But don’t let that scare you. In fact, most Germans will be kind enough to correct you if you’ve used the wrong phrase. The best way to understand each nuance is to use them over and over again in a variety of scenarios.
|Of course.||Auf jeden Fall.|
|Agreed.||Ja, ist gebongt.|
|Sounds good.||Das klingt gut.|
|Yessir / yep / affirmative!||Jawohl!|
|You’re right.||Du hast recht.|
|Without a doubt.||Ohne Zweifel.|
Formal ways of saying ‘yes’ in German
During your life, you might find yourself in a formal situation where you need to speak German. How do you agree with something they’ve said in a calm, civilised manner?
To start with, you’ve got to pay attention to the pronouns. German pronouns for ‘you’ change between the formal and informal and it’s crucial you get this right as a non-native speaker, or risk offending people.
Here are a few ways of politely and calmly agreeing with someone. Note the use of the Sie for the formal ‘you’ in German. This changes to Ihrer and Ihnen depending on the grammatical case.
|I couldn’t agree with you more.||Ich bin ganz Ihrer Meinung.|
|I agree with you.||Ich stimme Ihnen zu.|
|True, you’re right.||Stimmt, Sie haben recht.|
Using ja in sentences
As well as a stand-alone affirmation, ja can be used in sentences to express slight changes in meaning.
Learning to use ja in this way can be quite tricky, given the nuanced nature of the grammar and semantics, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll find your German friends are way more impressed by your skills.
To start sounding more like a native, then, let’s find out how to use the modal ja in a sentence.
The modal particle ja can be added to ordinary sentences to express your assurance that something did happen.
Wir haben gestern davon gesprochen.
Wir haben ja gestern davon gesprochen.
In the example, the person uttering the second sentence seems more assured that the event happened. Let’s look at another example.
Heute ist es kalt.
Heute ist es ja kalt!
Here, the use of ja intensifies the meaning by once again affirming the sentiment.
Basically, you can insert ja into a sentence when you want to add intensity or assurance to your statement. This technique is quite advanced and is an incredible way to show off your German skills.
How to say ‘maybe’ in German
If you’re a little unsure in your response or want to convey a positive yet uncertain answer, then you need to know how to say ‘maybe’ in German.
Often, ‘maybe’ can be used in place of ‘yes’ when you’re just not sure of the answer. Here’s a few simple ways of saying ‘maybe’ in German.
|Could be.||Könnte sein / Kann sein.|
|Yes and no.||Jein.|
While we’re on the subject of ‘yes’, Germans have this neat little word that they call jein. If you’ve not already guessed it, it’s a combination of both ja and nein and is used to mean ‘yes and no’.
It’s brilliant, it’s clever, it’s fun to use. I wish we had a single word for this in English.
It can be a little more nuanced, as it can be used in situations that seem true or positive, but have a covertly false or negative perspective about them. Essentially, it’s like saying ‘yes, but…’ in a way that both agrees with the other person and introduces a counterpoint.
Jein is a great word in German and one that will impress native speakers if you use it correctly.
For extra practice, check out the song Jein by German band Fettes Brot and follow along with the lyrics!
Where to from here?
Learning the fundamentals of German - like how to say ‘yes’ - is an essential start to building your vocabulary.
But there are other ways you can boost your chances of becoming fluent.
Check out some of our recommended tips on learning German below:
- Read books in German as often as you can.
- Listen to German podcasts for constant practice on the go.
- Download translation apps or other apps to learn German.
- Take a look at what online German courses are out there. Find one that’s free or within budget and go for it!
Practice makes perfect, which is especially true of learning German. Since ‘yes’ is such a lovely word, why not say it as often as you can? 😊
Now that you’ve learned so many ways to say ‘yes’, you can spread the positivity. Agree with people, show them you’re listening, say yes to trying new things.
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