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How to Say “Please” in German: Mastering the German Art of Politeness

If you want to impress a German native speaker with your language skills, you need to know more than just the necessary vocabulary. You also need to understand German manners. No one is going to love how fluent you are if you come across as rude. This is why it’s so important to know how to say “please” in German. This one little word can really elevate your language skills and make you seem much friendlier instantly.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to say the word “please” in German.

“Please” in German – “Bitte”

The answer to the question of how to say “please” in German is simple: all you need to know is the magic word “bitte.”

“Bitte” is one of the most important words in the German language. German speakers use it all the time. Not only is it the ultimate way of saying “please,” but it also has a couple of other useful meanings (more on that later).

Much like English speakers, German speakers love to be polite when asking for things. So, whenever you’re asking for anything, make sure to always use “bitte” if appropriate. Forgetting to use this word may be seen as very rude.

Here are some common examples of when you should use “bitte”:

  • Einen Kaffee, bitte. One coffee, please.
  • Die Rechnung, bitte. Check, please.
  • Kannst du mir bitte helfen? Can you please help me?

Other Meanings of “Bitte”

“Bitte” will get you through most interactions in which you’re trying to say “please” in German. However, this little word has other meanings, too. These are just as important, and you will come across them pretty regularly, too. But what are they?

Let’s take a look at some other meanings of “bitte.”

“Bitte” as “You’re Welcome”

“Bitte” doesn’t just mean “please” in German. It also means “you’re welcome.” In English, if someone hands you a free chocolate bar, the conversation might go like this:

  • Thank you!
  • You’re welcome!

But how would this same interaction look in German? Well, it’s simple. Take a look:

  • Danke!
  • Bitte!

Many English speakers might be tempted to translate “you’re welcome” as “du bist wilkommen,” but this does not sound right in German. The correct answer to “danke” is always “bitte” – although there are a couple of other options, too. These are:

  • Bitte schön.You’re very welcome. (Use this when trying to be extra polite or when answering to “danke schön.”)
  • Gern geschehen. My pleasure.
  • Nichts zu danken. Oh, it’s nothing! / Don’t mention it.
  • Kein Problem! / Keine Ursache! No problem!

Remember! Never say “du bist wilkommen” in German when trying to say “you’re welcome.” Instead, use “bitte” or one of the alternatives above.

“Bitte” as “Pardon?”

We’ve established that “bitte” can mean “you’re welcome” and “please” in German. But did you know that you can also use “bitte” to mean “pardon” in German?

When someone says something and you don’t quite catch it, chances are that you’ll want them to repeat what they just said. In that case, you may want to use the word “bitte.” You have two options here.

You can either ask:

  • Bitte?

Or you can also ask:

  • Wie bitte?

Either of these is perfectly acceptable and will make your conversation partner repeat themselves.

As you can see, “bitte” is a very versatile word that German speakers use on a regular basis. If you’d like to learn even more about this little magic word, check out this informative video by Coffee Break Languages, which is all about the different meanings of “bitte” in German:

“Bitten” as a Verb

Did you know that the word “bitte” also has a verb form? It’s “bitten,” and it means “to ask (for something)” or “to beg.”

You can use this verb when asking someone to do something for you. For example:

  • Wir bitten dich, uns zu helfen.We are asking/begging you to help us.

Here is how to conjugate the verb “bitten” in different tenses:

“Bitten” Conjugation in Present Tense (Präsens)


ich bitte I ask
du bittest you ask
er/sie/es bittet he/she/it asks


wir bitten we ask
ihr bittet you ask
sie/Sie bitten they/you (formal) ask

“Bitten” Conjugation in Simple Past Tense (Präteritum)


ich bat I asked
du bat(e)st you asked
er/sie/es bat he/she/it asked


wir baten we asked
ihr batet you asked
sie/Sie baten they/you (formal) asked

“Bitten” Conjugation in Present Perfect Tense (Perfekt)


ich habe gebeten I have asked
du hast gebeten you have asked
er/sie/es hat gebeten he/she/it has asked


wir haben gebeten we have asked
ihr habt gebeten you have asked
sie/Sie haben gebeten they/you (formal) have asked

“Bitten” Conjugation in Past Perfect Tense (Plusquamperfekt)


ich hatte gebeten I had asked
du hattest gebeten you had asked
er/sie/es hatte gebeten he/she/it had asked


wir hatten gebeten we had asked
ihr hattet gebeten you had asked
sie/Sie hatten gebeten they/you (formal) had asked

“Bitten” Conjugation in Future Tense (Futur I)


ich werde bitten I will ask
du wirst bitten you will ask
er/sie/es wird bitten he/she/it will ask


wir werden bitten we will ask
ihr werdet bitten you will ask
sie/Sie werden bitten they/you (formal) will ask

“Bitten” Conjugation in Future Perfect Tense (Futur II)


ich werde gebeten haben I will have asked
du wirst gebeten haben you will have asked
er/sie/es wird gebeten haben he/she/it will have asked


wir werden gebeten haben we will have asked
ihr werdet gebeten haben you will have asked
sie/Sie werden gebeten haben they/you (formal) will have asked

The Verb “Bitten” – Other Forms

Command Form (Imperativ)

Bitt(e)! (du) Ask! (you singular informal)
Bitten! (wir) Let’s ask! (we)
Bittet! (ihr) Ask! (you plural)
Bitten Sie! Ask! (you singular formal)

Past and Present Participles

Present participle (Partizip I) bittend
Past participle (Partizip II) gebeten

“Bitte” as a Noun

“Bitte” can also be a noun. “Die Bitte” means “request” in German. When you’re using this little word as a noun, make sure to always capitalize the first letter. Writing “die bitte” is not grammatically correct – it’s always “die Bitte.”

Important! When using “bitte” as “please” in German, do not use a capital letter. Only do this when using “Bitte” as a noun.

How to Say “Yes, Please” in German

What do you say when someone asks you if you’d like a glass of water? In English, you would say “yes, please.” But how do you say “yes, please” in German?

The answer is actually relatively simple. One of your options is:

  • Ja, bitte.

But there is another way to say “yes, please” in German. You can also say:

  • Ja, gerne.

“Gerne” in this case means “gladly,” and German speakers can use it instead of “bitte” in this context.

Here is an example of a situation you might find yourself in:

  • Möchten Sie einen Kaffee, Frau Anderson? Would you like some coffee, Mrs. Anderson?
  • Ja, bitte. / Ja, gerne. Yes, please.

Important! While you can use “gerne” in this context to mean “please” in German, it is only appropriate in this context. Never use “gerne” to mean “please” in German in any other context.

How to Say “Thank You” in German

“Please” and “thank you” are two phrases that are often mentioned together. It would be strange if your German teacher only taught you how to say “please” without also explaining how to thank someone.

By now, you know how to say “please” in German. But how do you say “thank you?”

There are a couple of options here. The most common way to say “thank you” is “danke” or “danke schön.” But there are a couple of alternatives:

  • Vielen Dank. Many thanks.
  • Tausend Dank.Thanks a million.
  • Herzlichen Dank. A heartfelt thank you!

If you’d like to learn more about expressions of gratitude in German, you can check out this article about how to say “thank you” in German.

How to Say “Please” in German – Final Thoughts

German speakers value politeness, which is why it’s very important to know how to say “please” in German. Luckily, it isn’t too complicated. You can get by with just one simple, magical word – “bitte.”

“Bitte” is a word that Germans use a lot in their day-to-day lives. Chances are you’ll hear it several times when you’re out and about in a German-speaking country.

Hopefully, this guide helped you understand how to use “bitte” and how to say “please” in German. Feel free to save it and revisit it in the future if you need a little refresher.

Learn More

Can’t get enough of the German language? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. There are many helpful guides on our blog all about German. So, if you feel up for it, why not check out some other articles?

Here’s where you can start:

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