How Do You Say "Good Night" in German - A Short Guide For Learners
Language learning can sometimes be taxing. Communicating in a foreign language can positively wear you out especially if you’re just a beginner. There might be moments when you’re only too happy to bid your German friends "goodnight" and finally retire to bed.
Learning new vocabulary is key to mastering a foreign language. Memorizing individual words won't get you far, though. You should always study the context in which you can use them. The German Frequency dictionary series is a great source. In only four books, you'll get 10,000 most common words in German. What is more, every entry is followed by an example sentence translated to English to show you usage in context.
How Do You Say “Good Night” in German
In today’s article, we’ll explain how to say “good night” in German. As always, you’ll find a lot of useful phrases and examples here. But don’t worry this article won’t put you to sleep. Learning words such as Gutenachtgeschichte is simply too intriguing for that.
Saying “Good Night” in the German Language
The direct translation is Gute Nacht. It’s pronounced something like [goo-teh nakht] or [ˌɡuːtəˈnaxt] in the IPA transcription. Gut means “good.”
The ending -e implies that it is an accusative with a feminine noun, (die) Nacht – “night.” Compare it with Guten Tag, which literally means “good day.” (Der) Tag is masculine that is why it has the -en ending (in an accusative).
Like in English, you say it to your family or friends before going to bed. You can use it with verbs, such as sagen – “to say” or wünschen – “to wish.”
- Nun ist es Zeit gute Nacht zu sagen. – It is time to say good night.
- Ich wünsche dir gute Nacht. – I wish you a good night.
Terms of Endearment
As we said in the beginning, Germans bid “good night” mostly to close family members or friends. It’s often followed by a pet name.
- Gute Nacht, mein Liebling. – Good night, darling.
- Gute Nacht, Schatz. – Good night, sweetheart.
- Mein Herzchen. – Honey.
- Meine Süße/mein Süßer. – Sweetheart (meine Süße when addressing a woman, mein Süßer when addressing a man).
Other Useful Goodnight Phrases
- Schöne Träume. – Sweet dreams. Don’t forget that (der) Traum is a masculine noun.
- Träum was Schönes. – Sweet dreams. Literally “Dream something nice.”
- Schlaf gut/schön. – Sleep well. (You’re talking to one person. If you address more people, say Schlaft gut, (Kinder). – Sleep well, (children).
It isn’t just a wish. You can find it in phrases, such as Es war eine gute Nacht für einen Mord. – “It was a good night for a murder.”
- Wir können aber ohne eine Gute-Nacht-Geschichte nicht schlafen. – But we can’t sleep without a bedtime story (literally a goodnight story, it can also be spelled Gutenachtgeschichte).
- Dein Sohn möchte dir einen Gute-Nacht-Kuss geben. – Your son would like to kiss you goodnight (it can also be spelled Gutenachtkuss).
How to Respond in German
You can say the same or simply Danke, dir auch. – “Thanks, you too.” When you wake up, you can add:
- Ich hoffe, du hast gut geschlafen. – I hope you’ve slept well. (You’re talking to one person informally.)
- Ich hoffe, ihr habt gut geschlafen. – I hope you’ve slept well. (You’re, informally, addressing more people.)
How do you say “Good Night” in German Dialects and Idioms
The good news is that it’s either the same or very similar to this particular expression in the so-called Hochdeutsch (literally “high German,” a standardized variety of German). For example:
- Swiss German – Guet Nacht
- Low German – Gode Nacht, or Slaap goot. – Sleep well.
- In other dialects, such as Austrian, it is simply gute Nacht again.
When you want to say that something “is in the middle of nowhere,” you can use
Dort sagen Fuchs und Hase einander gute Nacht. It literally means that a fox and a hare bid each other good night.
Other Phrases to Say when Parting Ways
You’re leaving and want to say goodbye, but it’s not bedtime yet. Let’s revise the most important farewell phrases:
- Auf Wiedersehen. – Goodbye. It’s formal. You can often hear a shortened (but still formal) version ‘Wiedersehen. If you greet someone with Guten Tag/Guten Morgen, you would use Auf Wiedersehen.
- Tschüs. – Bye. This phrase is rather informal. It usually works if you’ve used Hallo as a greeting.
- Bis bald. – See you soon. Instead of bald, you can add other time expressions, such as Bis Montag. – See you on Monday. Bis später. – See you later. Bis nächste Woche. – See you next week. Bis means literally “until.”
Mind the -e ending. Don’t say Gute
- You can add a pet name – Liebling, Schatz, etc.
- Remember other useful phrases such as Schöne Träume. Or Schlaf gut.
- You can answer Danke, dir auch.
- Other important farewell phrases are Auf Wiedersehen, Tschüs, or expressions with bis.
Other Sleep-Related Vocabulary
After all the goodnight talk, you might feel like you’re ready to go to bed. Let’s take a look at some handy expressions you can revise later today before you rest your head.
- schlafen – to sleep (Jetzt werde ich nicht schlafen können. – Now, I won’t be able to sleep.)
- schlafen gehen – to go to bed (Es ist an der Zeit schlafen zu gehen. – It’s time to go to bed.)
- einschlafen – to fall asleep (Wie kannst du in dieser Situation einschlafen? – How can you fall asleep in this situation?) Beware the separable prefix. Er ist eingeschlafen. – He has fallen asleep.
- schnarchen – to snore (Sie schnarchen übrigens. – You snore, by the way.)
- aufwachen – wake up (Er wird bald aufwachen. – He’ll be waking up soon.)
Practicing German Compounding on "Sleeping"
We’ve already mentioned einschlafen (to fall asleep). However, with the right prefix, suffix, or another word, which is a German speciality, you can form other words, such as:
verschlafen – to oversleep (Ich habe leider verschlafen. – I’m sorry I’ve overslept.) Remember that ver- is always unseparable. You would never say ver
- ausschlafen – to sleep in or sleep off (Ich denke, wir lassen sie einfach ausschlafen. – I guess we just let her sleep it off.)
- durchschlafen – to sleep through (Wir müssen durchgeschlafen haben. – We must have slept through it.)
- (die) Schlaflosigkeit – insomnia (Es hat Susanne geholfen, ihre Schlaflosigkeit zu überwinden. – It helped Susan cure her insomnia.)
- (der) Schlafanzug – pyjamas (Was machst du hier im Schlafzug? – What are you doing here in your pyjamas?)
- (der) Schlafwandler – sleepwalker (Einen Schlafwandler darf man nicht wecken. – You shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker.)
If you feel like you need to learn more useful practical German vocabulary, you should check out the German Frequency dictionary series. This unique dictionary provides 10,000 most used words in this language together with their translation, pronunciation, basic grammar information, and even an example sentence.
Typical German Bed
The most important thing in a bedroom (das Schlafzimmer) is a bed (das Bett). You need a comfy mattress (die Matratze) and some soft bedding (die Bettwäsche). Don’t confuse (das) Kissen (a pillow) with (der) Kuss (a kiss). Apart from a pillow, you will get
- (das) Bettlaken – (bed) sheet
- (der) Bettbezug – duvet cover
- (die) Decke – blanket, duvet
Two is always better than one. German couples don’t sleep under one duvet. In their homes or hotels, you’ll mostly find two separate blankets often filled with down from either geese or ducks (das Daunenbett or die Daunendecke).
On cold nights, it’s ideal. On hot sunny days, not so much.
The nightstand is called (der) Nachttisch. Don’t confuse (der) Nachttisch with (der) Nachtisch, which means dessert. The pronunciation is the same, though – [naχtɪʃ].
Hopefully, you’ve learnt a lot of great goodnight expressions. If you have any other questions, let us know in the comments below. Gute Nacht und angenehmes Flohbeißen! Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite!