How to Say "Yes" in German - With Tips How To Best Express Agreement In Germany
Surely, it has happened to you. You’re listening to a native speaker of the language you’re trying to learn. He talks and talks, but you don’t understand a word, so you keep smiling and saying “oh, yes” or “oh, ja” in our case.
Saying "Yes" auf Deutsch
In this article, we’ll learn many ways to say “yes” in German or auf Deutsch if you prefer. While you shouldn't be afraid to express disagreement, learning how to show approval in a foreign language is a valuable skill to have.
Learning word usage in context is essential if you want to learn a new language. The German Frequency dictionaries are a great source to help you expand your vocabulary fast. You'll find 10,000 most common words in German there together with their correct pronunciation, translation, grammar context, and what is more, an example sentence translated to English.
The German Word for “Yes”
The direct translation of “yes” is ja. It’s pronounced [yah] or [jaː] if you prefer the IPA transcription. It’s used in the same way as its English equivalent. Don’t confuse it with the Russian “da,” though. Let’s take a look at some useful phrases:
- Ja, bitte. – Yes, please.
- Ja, danke. – Yes, thank you.
- Ja, natürlich. – Yes, of course.
Saying “Of Course” in German
Is a simple ja too plain for you? Of course, there are other ways to say “yes.” However, be careful with the level of formality.
We’ve already used natürlich which you can translate as “of course” or “naturally.” It’s pronounced [naˈtyːʁlɪç]. You might also hear a colloquially shortened version – ‘türlich. You can use it as an adjective meaning “natural.” Natürliche Ressourcen – “natural resources.”
Other synonyms for “of course” include:
- Selbstverständlich. – Now, take a deep breath, here is its rather scary IPA transcription: [ˌzɛlpst.fɛɐ̯.ˈʃtɛn.tlɪç]
- Freilich. – It’s informal and used especially in Southern Germany and Austria. The phonetic transcription is ['fraɪ̯lɪç].
How Would You Translate “Sure” to German
Let’s look at a list of possible translations of “sure” together with an example sentence:
- Sicher. – “Gehst du mit?” “Aber sicher!” – “Are you coming with us?” “Sure!”
- Gewiss. – (informal) “Darf ich mich hinsetzen?” “Aber gewiss!” – “May I sit down?” “Sure!”
- Bestimmt. – Er wirdganz bestimmt zu Hause bleiben. – He’ll stay at home for sure.
- Klar. – (informal) Klar, Chef. – Sure, boss.
What is the Mysterious “Yavol” or “Ja vol”
First things first, there are no such words in German. The expression we’re looking for is jawohl pronounced [jaːˈvoːl]. It’s basically a more emphatic “yes.”
“Sind Sie jetzt zufrieden?” “Jawohl.” – “Are you happy now?” “Yes, I am.” It’s also often used in the military meaning “Yes, sir.”
Other Phrases Expressing Agreement in the German Language
- Ich stimme dir zu. – I agree with you. Don’t forget that dir is informal singular.
- Ich stimme Ihnen zu. – I agree with you. Ihnen is formal singular or plural.
- Ich stimme euch zu. – I agree with you. Euch is informal plural.
- auf jeden Fall – in any case or by all means
- Warum nicht? – Why not?
- In Ordnung. – All right.
- Also gut.– Okay, then.
- Okay. – Okay.
- Genau. – Exactly.
- Kein Problem. – No Problem.
- Das ist wahr. – That’s true.
- Du hast recht. – You’re right. Don’t forget that du is informal singular.
- Sie haben recht. – You’re right. Sie (capitalized) is formal singular or plural. This sentence could also mean: They’re right.
- Ihr habt recht. – You’re right. Ihr is informal plural. Recht can be capitalized in this phrase. It’s also correct. However, Duden recommends the lower-case spelling.
- Das klingt gut. – It sounds good.
- Ich bin ganz Ihrer Meinung. – I couldn’t agree more with you (formal).
- Ich bin ganz deiner Meinung. – I couldn’t agree more with you (informal).
In addition to the elementary ja, you’ve now learnt a lot of handy phrases to express agreement. The verb “to agree” is zustimmen. Keep in mind that zu-, in this case, is a separable prefix: Sie stimmte mir zu. – “She agreed with me.” You can’t say Sie zustimmte mir.
Meaning of “Doch”
Doch mostly means “however” or “yet.” Sie ist sehr klug aber doch nicht überheblich. – “She’s very smart and yet not arrogant."
However, it can also mean “yes” when answering a negative question or statement.
- “Kommst du nicht?” “Doch!” – “You aren’t coming?” “Sure, I am.”
- “Das ist nicht wahr!” “Doch!” – “It isn’t true!” “Yes, it is.”
To sum up, don’t forget to use doch when you want to answer “yes” to a negative question. It would be a mistake to use ja: “Hast du nicht Hunger?” “Ja.” The correct positive answer is “Doch.” – “Aren’t you hungry?” “Yes, I am.”
“Yes, I Do” in German
You might have wondered how to say “Yes, I do/will/can/did, etc.” in German as it uses auxiliary verbs differently than English. If a simple ja seems too curt to you, you could use the following tips.
- Use words such as na, aber, or schon:
- “Wirst du bitte hier bleiben?” “Na ja.” – “Will you stay here, please?” “Yes, I will.”
- “Hat es dir gefallen?” “Aber ja.” – “Did you like it?” “Yes, I did.”
- “Bist du zurück?” “Ja schon.” – “Are you back?” “Yes, I am.”
- You can repeat the main verb or the auxiliary verb:
- “Hast du Durst?” “Ja, habe ich.” – “Are you thirsty?” “Yes, I am.”
- Ja, kann ich auch bestätigen. – Yes, I can confirm it.
Expressing Maybe in German
You’re not ready to say “yes” but don’t want to say “no” at the same time. Here are some phrases expressing hesitation or uncertainty:
- Vielleicht. – Maybe.
- Möglicherweise.– Possibly.
- Wahrscheinlich. – Probably.
- Hoffentlich. – Hopefully.
- Kann sein.– (informal) It is possible.
Can you guess what jein means? It is translated as “yes or no”: Auf die Frage, ob er bereit sei, antwortete er mit einem klaren Jein. – He answered a question if he’s ready with a clear “Jein.”
Six Simple Pointers to Remember
- “Yes” means ja.
- “Of course” means natürlich.
- Jawohl is simply a more emphatic ja.
- Answering a negative question or statement? Use doch. “Bist du nicht müde?” “Doch.” – “Aren’t you tired?” “Yes, I am.”
- Na ja, aber ja, or na schon can be used as short answers. Alternatively, you can repeat the verb. Pay attention to the word order: “Ist er in der Schule?” “Ja, ist er.” – “Is he at school?” “Yes, he is.”
- Vielleicht means “maybe.”
In today’s article, you’ve learnt a lot of practical phrases to help you say “yes” in German. Don't forget that the best way to learn new vocabulary is by learning it in context. In our German Frequency Dictionaries, you'll find 10,000 most common words in German together with example sentences translated to English. They make learning new vocabulary extremely effective.