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What does BITTE mean in German? And how do you use it like a native German speaker!

Our German word bitte is one of the first words you will learn on your German language learning journey at GermanMind or 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 how to use bitte in a correct and also natural way. Use it like a native German speaker!


Here is why “bitte” so important in German

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 formal as well as informal situations. In both situations, using the word you show respect and politeness.

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?


“Please”

When used to mean “please,” 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. They are more formal, more polite and sound not as direct.


“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 you did something without effort!

Gern! My students know that this is one of my favorite German. 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