How To Use Danke And Variations To Say Thank You In German

September 14, 2022

Smiling woman in German market, extending red rose.

Danke is the most common way to express thanks in German. Danke in English is literally Thank you or Thanks. Danke can be used in any type of situation.

We can also combine Danke with other words for some alternate expressions, such as Danke schön, or thank you very much.

These important words of gratitude sound like this:

German English


Thank you

Danke schön

Thank you very much
Click Purple Words to Play

1. When can I use Danke?

Danke is the most common way to express gratitude in German. We can use Danke to say thanks to anyone in any type of situation.

2. How do I pronounce Danke in German?

The word Danke is relatively straightforward to pronounce. All of the required sounds for correct pronunciation have an equivalent sound in English.

German English


Thank you
  • Consonants: At the beginning of the word Danke, we hear the “d” sound as in the English word dog. In the middle of the word, we use the “nk” sound, as in the English word bank.
  • Vowels: Both of the vowels in Danke are short German vowels. The A is like the “a” sound in the English word father, but shorter. The E at the end of German words is an unstressed sound and makes the “a” sound like in the English word adorable.

3. What are other ways to express thanks in German?

Feli from Germany with male friend who is holding out plate of German food.

By adding on to the base phrase Danke, we can convey variations of thanks.

These phrases can be used in all situations, both formal and informal, and are very common:

German English

Danke schön

Thank you very much

Vielen Dank

Thank you very much

Note that the word schön, when used on its own, means nice or beautiful. But used as part of the phrase Danke schön, it’s like saying “Thank you very much.”

These phrases are used in more specific situations:

German English Usage

Danke sehr

Thank you very much More formal; still good for all situations

Herzlichen Dank

Sincere thanks Used in emails and writing

Tausend Dank

Thanks a million More informal

And, when you do not want something, simply insert the German word for no, which is nein:

German English

Nein Danke

No, thank you

4. How do I pronounce Danke schön?

Since Danke schön is so frequently used, let’s see how to pronounce this phrase correctly. You already know how to pronounce the word Danke. The word schön can be trickier, so let’s take a look at the pronunciation of schön.

German English

Danke schön

Thank you very much
  • Consonants: The SCH combination at the beginning of the word schön makes the “sh” sound like in the English word sheep. As for the end of the word, the “n” is pronounced just like the “n” in the English word no.
  • Ö, Umlaut O: The word schön contains a letter that does not exist in English - the Ö, Umlaut O. The Umlaut O is a German vowel. The Umlaut O makes a sound that does not exist in English. However, with practice, you can learn to pronounce Ö.

Listen to some words containing the Ö sound:

German English

Danke schön

Thank you very much

die Söhne

the sons

die Flöte

the flute

die Höhle

the cave

Here’s a tip to keep in mind when you need to pronounce this distinct German sound. Instead of being surprised Oh!, for the Ö in schön, think of being disgusted and make that sound. Can you hear this sound in the example words above?

5. How can I specify what I’m thankful for?

Overhead view of various coffee drinks.

Just like in English, sometimes you’ll want to highlight what you are thankful for. For example – Thanks for the time! This phrase will flow similarly in German, but there is an additional nuance.

When we use German prepositions, like the word für meaning “for”, we must use different articles based on the gender and number of the subsequent noun, and also based on the type of preposition. The preposition “for” in German, or für, is an accusative preposition.

With accusative prepositions, we’ll use the definite articles die for feminine nouns, das for neutral nouns, and den for masculine nouns.

So, when we specify what we are thankful for, our expression of gratitude will vary like this:

Example In Context
German English German English

die Zeit

the time

Danke für die Zeit

Thanks for the time

das Buch

the book

Danke für das Buch

Thanks for the book

der Kaffee

the coffee

Danke für den Kaffee

Thanks for the coffee

Choosing the right article is a detail that you can refine as you learn more German, so don’t let this detail slow you down one bit.

6. How can I respond to Danke?

To respond to Danke and its variations, you can use the following phrases:

German English


You’re welcome

Bitte schön

You’re welcome

Kein Problem

No problem



Bitte is an especially useful word to know. Bitte is used to say you’re welcome and also to say please.

7. How can I practice Danke and other important phrases?

  • Look for ways to use these phrases in context: Applying your new learning is the best way to make it stick. In the interactive video lessons in Kleo, you can try thinking on your feet and speaking in real-life situations.
  • Keep working to improve your pronunciation of the sounds we’ve talked about here: This will help you feel more confident and sound more natural. In the Kleo Pronunciation Series, you can receive feedback on your pronunciation and keep trying until you get it just right. This is a great way to build muscle memory for the beautiful sounds of German, such as the Ö in the word schön.
  • Refine the details over time: As you are learning to communicate in German, don’t let the nuances slow you down. You can get practice with the finer details as you go. For example, explore accusative prepositions, as well as the other types of prepositions, in the more advanced units of the Kleo app.

With what we’ve covered here and these practice tools, you’ll be well prepared to have many polite conversations in German!

Danke für die Zeit - Thanks for the time!