How to Compliment Someone in German
Compliments are not as frequently used in German culture as they are in American culture. But there are many social situations where a thoughtful compliment can be appropriate or evening useful as an icebreaker. This language guide to German compliments covers many useful phrases and expressions, ending with a section on how to respond to a compliment in German.
German compliments for a woman
Compliments about a woman’s beauty are among the most common, especially in romantic situations.
Here are some ways to construct some German sentences, to let a woman know that you find her beautiful:
Du bist / Du siehst (…) aus / Ich finde dich
– You are / You look / I find you (…)
- toll - great
- hübsch - pretty
- schön - beautiful
- wunderschön – “beautiful” but more emphatic than “schön”
- umwerfend - staggering, dazzling
- süss - sweet
- atemberaubend – breathtaking
- natürlich - natural
- zauberhaft – enchanting
- hinreißend – ravishing
For example: «Ich finde dich atemberaubend» – I find you breathtaking
Using an adverb to add emphasis
You may also want to add more emphasis to a compliment, in which case you can use the following adverbs ahead of the adjective:
• echt – real
«Ich finde dich echt umwerfend»
– I find you really staggering
•wirklich – really
«Du siehst heute wirklich hübsch aus»
- You look really pretty today
•sehr – very
«Du bist sehr süss»
– You are very sweet
A more in-depth discussion of adverbs is provided in this guide to German adverbs.
Of course, in all serious romantic courtships, you should not solely rely on complimenting physical attributes.
Below are some adjectives to help you flatter a woman’s personality:
- einzigartig – one-of-a-kind, unique
- toll – great
- sympathisch – sympathetic, friendly, affable
- unglaublich – incredible
- bemerkenswert – remarkable
- beeindruckend – impressive
- schlagfertig – quick-witted
- rücksichtsvoll – compassionate
- engagiert – dedicated
For example: «Du bist einzigartig» – You are one-of-a-kind
More compliments for a woman
Here are a few more handy German phrases, that will surely make her blush:
- Du bist meine Traumfrau – You are my dream girl
- Du hast wunderschöne Augen – You have beautiful eyes
- Du bist die Beste – You are the best
- Deine gute Laune ist ansteckend – Your good mood is infectious
- Dein Lachen ist ansteckend – Your laughter is contagious
- Bei dir fühle ich mich einfach wohl – With you, I feel well
- Die Farbe bringt deine Augen zum Vorschein – This color brings out your eyes
German compliments for a man
Women are not the only ones who can appreciate a thoughtful compliment, men can enjoy them too.
Compliments on the physique of men often refer to their strength and fitness.
In such cases, you could use the following German phrases:
Du bist / Ich finde dich (…)
– You are / I find you (…)
- gutaussehend – good-looking, handsome
- stark – strong
- sportlich – sporty
- muskelös – muscular
- klasse – great
Of course, your recognition beyond superficial attributes will stroke any man’s ego. You could compliment him on some of his personality traits by using following German adjectives:
- sympathisch – sympathetic, friendly
- mutig – brave
- witzig – funny
- einzigartig – unique
- toll – great
- aufmerksam – thoughtful
- charismatisch – charismatic
- charmant – charming
- einfühlsam – sensitive
- großherzig – literally big-hearted, meaning kind-hearted
- gutmütig – good-natured, kind
- romantisch – romantic
Note that most adjectives pertaining to someone’s character or personality are actually gender-neutral and could be used for a woman as well.
Here are some more German phrases which can be used to compliment a man:
- Die Jacke steht dir – The jacket suits you
- Ich bin stolz auf dich – I am proud of you
- Du hast einen tollen Humor – You have a great sense of humor
- Du hast ein gutes Herz – You have a good heart
- Ich bin froh, dass ich dich habe – I am glad to have you
- Du bist das Beste was mir passieren konnte – You are the best thing that could have happened to me
- Schön, dass es dich gibt – (I’m) glad you exist
- Was würde ich ohne dich machen? – What would I do without you?
- Du machst mich glücklich – You make me happy
- Ich denke an dich – I am thinking of you
- Bei dir fühle ich mich sicher und geborgen – With you, I feel safe and secure
- Meine Freundinnen beneiden mich um dich – My girlfriends envy me for you
- Du bist mein Lieblingsmensch – you are my favorite person
Unusual German compliments
There are certain idioms used as compliments that simply do not have an equivalent in other languages. Here are a few examples of these in the German language:
- Du bist das Gelbe vom Ei – literally “you are the yolk of the egg”, actually meaning “you are the best”
- Niemand kann dir das Wasser reichen – literally “no one can pass you the water”, actual meaning “no one can hold a candle to you”
- Für dich würde ich Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen – literally “I would move heaven and hell for you”, actual meaning “I would do anything for you”
- Mit ihm kann man Pferden stehlen – literally “You can steal horses with him”, actually meaning “somebody who is game for anything. A very trustworthy, reliable and fun friend”
How to compliment a friend in German
It feels wonderful to receive a compliment. It is one of the easiest ways to spread happiness, and a romantic intention is not required. Just be sure you are sincere or you might come off as trying too hard.
Here are a few examples you could use to show your appreciation for a friend:
The use of the formulation «du bist» (“you are”) rather than «Ich finde dich» (“I find you”), produces a more neutral and appropriate tone for a compliment without underlying romantic intentions. The result is a sentence that is less flattery and more of a factual statement.
Some examples of descriptive adjectives to use in a German compliment for a friend are:
Du bist (…) – You are (…)
- beliebt – popular
- diskret – discreet
- ehrlich – honest
- hilfreich – helpful
- geduldig – patient
- lässig – cool / chill / laidback
- klug – smart
- lieb – nice
- nett – nice
- schlau – witty
- zugänglich – approachable
Another way of complimenting a friend would be in the description of either his or her fashion.
Ich mag – I like…
- deinen Look – your look
- deinen Stil – your style
- deine Schuhe – your shoes
- deine Frisur – your hairdo
- dein Kleid – your dress
- deinen Mantel – your coat
- deinen Hut – your hat
- deine Ohrringe – your earrings
Complimenting someone doesn’t always have to pertain to their appearance or character. For instance, should you ever get invited into a friend’s home, you could praise them using the following German phrases:
- Du hast ein wunderschönes Haus – you have a beautiful home
- Du hast einen sehr schönen Garten – you have a very nice garden
- Du hast sehr guten Geschmack in Kunst – you have very good taste in art
- Dein Kochen war wie immer toll – Your cooking was great as always
- Das hat lecker geschmeckt – This was delicious
- Deine Kinder sind so artig / wohlerzogen – Your children are so well-behaved
- Dir kann ich mich immer anvertrauen – I can always confide in you. I can trust you.
How to compliment a couple in German
Are your friends a couple? Here are a few examples of phrases which can be used to compliment a couple in German:
- Ihr schaut so gut / süss miteinander aus – You look so good / sweet with one another
- Ihr schaut so verliebt aus – You look so in love
- Ihr seid wie für einander geschaffen – you are made for one another
- Ihr seid für einander bestimmt – you are destined to one another
- Ihr seid mein Lieblingspaar – you are my favorite couple
- Ihr habt ein wunderschöne Familie – You have a wonderful family
- Mit Euch haben wir immer so viel Spass – With you guys, we always have such a fun time
German compliments at work
While feedback on performance in the workplace generally takes the form of written evaluations, the occasional spoken words of encouragement and praise can help maintain a high level of motivation in the team.
Remark: The German language has both an informal “you” pronoun which is “du”, as well as a formal “you” pronoun which is “Sie” (it is capitalized). German verbs are conjugated differently depending on the pronoun.
The examples below use the informal pronoun, but in a more formal setting, particularly with people we don’t know well, it is appropriate to use formal pronouns.
If you are working in Germany or with a German client, you might hear following compliments:
- Tolle Arbeit – Great job
- Sehr beeindruckend / das hat mich beeindruckt – Very impressive / that impressed me
- Hast du toll gemacht / gut gemacht – equivalent to you did great
- Weiter so – keep at it
- Starke Leistung! – strong performance
- Du hast dich selbst übertroffen – you outdid yourself
- Auf dich kann man immer zählen – equivalent to we can always count on you
- Du bist wirklich talentiert – you are really talented
- Du hast gute Arbeit geleistet / Du hast herausragende Arbeit geleistet– you have done good work
Du bist sehr – you are very…
- fleißig – hard working, diligent
- gründlich – thorough
- pünktlich – punctual
- zuverlässig – dependable, reliable
- sorgfältig – meticulous, careful
- hilfsbereit – helpful
- organisiert – organized
- proaktiv – proactive
- großzügig – generous
- ehrlich – honest, sincere
- begabt – talented, skilled, gifted
Germans can be somewhat parsimonious in giving out acknowledgment for a job well done – after all, it is understood that a task should be completed according to the assignment.
Culturally, Germans are known to be straightforward and words are weighed accordingly. Constructive criticism is meant to be honest and truthful feedback.
As such, silence can sometimes mean the biggest praise.
How to respond to a compliment in German
In addition to being able to give appropriate compliments in various situations, it is important to know how to receive them gracefully as well.
The most common and gracious way to accept a compliment is simply to thank the person in front of you.
- Danke / Danke schön – Thank you
- Vielen Dank – literally “a lot of thanks” equivalent to “Thank you very much”
- Danke Dir – Thank you. This is used to thank people you are familiar with and say “you” to, such as friends and family.
- Danke, dass ist aber nett / lieb von dir – Thank you, that is sweet / kind of you
But what if you are not quite sure if the person means it? Here are ways to respond quite casually:
- Nimmst du mich jetzt auf den Arm? – Literal translation is “are you taking me on your arm?” The English equivalent to “are you pulling my leg?” / “Are you joking with me?”
- Im Ernst? – seriously?
You may find yourself in a more formal situation and as such, here are multiple ways to respond to a compliment in German:
- Vielen Dank – Thank you very much
- Das freut mich – equivalent to I’m glad to hear it or that makes me happy
- Vielen Dank, Ihre Meinung ist mir wichtig – Thank you very much, your opinion matters to me.
- Ich fühle mich geehrt – I feel honored
Complimenting someone in a new language isn’t always easy, as many phrases are deeply rooted in culture. Conveying genuine emotions as a non-native speaker can be daunting. But don’t let it discourage you. Everyone appreciates a friendly, intentional, and well-meaning compliment.
There are also terms of endearment used among people who are close. The following guide covers German terms of endearment and affection.
Now that you have learned the basics of German compliments and how to receive them graciously, why not include one the next time you write an email in German?