top of page
  • Writer's pictureSarah

Here is why “bitte” is so important in German

Our German word bitte is one of the first words you will learn on your German language learning journey at GermanMind or with any other German Language School. The first translation that will come up when you check your translation app (my favorite one is linguee) is “please” or “you’re welcome.” But it means so much more than that.

Keep reading! We will show you some examples of how to use bitte in a correct and also natural way. Use it like a native German speaker!

I already mentioned it above: danke and bitte are two words you will learn in one of your first German classes. Maybe you have even heard them before!

Bitte is a term in the German language that is used very frequently. We use it in formal as well as informal situations.

It is also used in restaurants as it allows you to (politely) order food, drink, etc.

Since there are a variety of meanings for this one simple word, it’s versatile and comes in handy in numerous situations.

Meaning of Bitte Mean in German and how a native German speaker uses it

There are seven different ways to use bitte and we will show you three of them in this blog.

Would you have thought one word could have so many meanings?


When used to mean bitte can take various positions within a sentence. Like most German sentences, it comes down to emphasis. You can put the word bitte at the start or at the end of your sentence, or even somewhere in-between. Here are a few examples:

Bitte, kannst du mich zur Schule fahren? ich mit dir gehen? (Please, can you drive/bring me to school?)

Gib mir deine Nummer, bitte. (Give me your number, please.)

Können Sie mir bitte noch einmal die Namen sagen? (Can you please tell me the names again?)

Without the word bitte, the sentences above are still grammatically correct. However, adding that extra bit(te) can make a huge difference. Using bitte is a way of being more formal, more polite and not sounding as direct. When you are ordering in a restaurant for example, it would be commonplace to use bitte.

“You’re Welcome”

Most of my German students who only start learning German with me understand this meaning of bitte: You are welcome and see it as a typical reply to "thank you”.

Stefan, danke für die Bücher. (Stefan, thanks for the books.)

Ja, bitte! (Yes, you’re welcome!) And, students, you are right. However, there is another way to express that you did something without effort!

Gern! My students know that this is one of my favorite German words. I remember my grandfather using it when I was a little girl - he made sure I always use danke and his response then was gern geschehen

Gern is a German adverb which means “gladly”. You can use it to express your willingness to do something. For example, you can simply say gern to an offer or request to mean “yes, please.” - Möchtest du einen Keks essen?/ Would you like to eat a cookie? - Ja, gern! Yes, please.

And gern geschehen means (literally) “done gladly”. A very friendly and short way to accept one’s gratitude after a favor.

“Go Ahead”

You can also use bitte to say “go ahead” and as if you are approving an action.

Like “May I?” in English and then replying, “Please do.” / "Bitte".

Here’s an example in context for you:

Kann ich einen Keks haben? (Can I have a cookie?)

Bitte, es gibt mehr im Kühlschrank. (Go ahead, there’s more in the fridge.)

The context of this word is key!

With a little practice, you’ll know this useful word like the back of your hand. I can guarantee you that! Get out there and start using this powerful German word in your everyday conversations or in our private German lessons and German group courses. We teach with our German course books but also add hints like "How do native speakers use this word", we teach you about German culture and much more.

Some of our German beginner students told me in the past that they first thought German was almost impossible to learn. Well, my intermediate and advanced students prove that this is simply not correct... German actually isn't nearly as hard to learn as you might think.

I would agree that German is a little more difficult than English mainly because English grammar is easier than German grammar. English is 50% grammar and 50% vocabulary. Whereas German is 75% grammar and 25% vocabulary (which is equally difficult)...

You can also use bitte to mean excuse me. If you don’t understand what a native speaker is saying you could use the phrase, “Wie bitte?”.

This is a polite way of asking somebody to repeat what they have said. It can be particularly useful when in a situation where there is a miscommunication. If you get into a situation with a native speaker where your grammar isn’t correct, you can use bitte to apologize.

Read more blogs!

The German cases - what are they and how do they work?

TOP 3 tips to learn the German articles!

Valentine's Day in Germany! Bonus: Love-related wishes for Valentine's Day in German and English


bottom of page