As a beginner in German, it’s a great feeling just to have the most basic exchanges: to say a little about yourself and your surroundings, ask some practical questions. But as you start to improve, you’ll soon want to have more meaningful conversations. You’ll want to share your interests, enthusiasms, likes and dislikes. And to find out about what matters to your conversation partners and why. In this post, we’ll first take a look at the various ways of stating your own opinion in German and asking what others think about a certain topic. Then, we’ll cover some useful phrases to express agreement, disagreement or indifference in German. To wrap things up, you’ll learn how to eliminate misunderstandings and to elegantly change the topic.
Expressing a point of view in German
Germans aren’t big on small talk. Instead, they love to participate in lively discussions and share their opinion with others. This willingness or even pleasure to openly debate all kinds of topics might seem a bit intimidating at first, but don’t worry. With the following opinion phrases, you won’t be left speechless the next time someone asks you for your opinion.
First, here are four ways that you can say “In my opinion”:
Meiner Meinung nach…
Meiner Ansicht zufolge…
Meines Erachtens… Ich bin der Meinung/Auffassung, dass… (literally: I’m of the opinion that…)
Your could also say:
Ich glaube (schon), dass… I (do) believe that…
Ich würde sagen, dass… I would say that…
Ich finde, dass… I think that… (literally: I find that…)
Ich denke, dass… I think that…
Es ist wichtig, dass… It’s important that…
“Dass” here means “that” in the sense of introducing what somebody says (or thinks). Don’t confuse it with the article “das”.
Don’t forget that in a phrase that begins with “dass” in this way the verb moves to the end of the sentence.
Here are two full sentences as examples:
Ich denke, dass er sehr talentiert ist. (I think that he’s very talented)
Es ist wichtig, dass wir sofort handeln. (It’s important, that we negotiate at once)
Just like when you’re expressing an opinion in English, it’s possible to use finden, denken or glauben without “dass”, e.g. Ich glaube, er hat recht.
Finden (but not denken or glauben) can also be used in the following way:
Ich finde diese Frage sehr interessant.
Asking for others’ opinion
To avoid your discussion becoming a one-sided rant, you should also ask your counterparts for their views. Here are a few ways to do this:
Glaubst du, dass…? Do you believe that …?
Findest du, dass…? Do you find that …?
Wie denkst du darüber? What do you think?
Stimmen Sie mir zu, dass…? Do you agree with me that…?
Was halten Sie von…? What do you think of…?
Wie denken Sie über…? How do you think about …?
Was ist Ihre Meinung zu…? What is your opinion on…?
Was meinen Sie dazu? What are your thoughts about that?
A common mistake made by English-speaking students of German is to say “über es” instead of “darüber” or “zu es” instead of “dazu”. So always be careful when your German question ends in “about it” or “on that”.
Once somebody has told you what they think, you’ll want to respond. Next, then, we need some German opinion phrases that how that you agree and disagree with what your conversation partner is saying.
Expressing agreement in German
If you want (or have) to agree with your discussion partner in German, here are some useful word and expressions:
Da muss ich Ihnen/dir zustimmen. I have to agree with you on that one.
Ich denke, du hast recht. I think you’re right.
Ich stimme mit Ihnen/dir vollständig überein. I fully agree with you.
Darüber sind wir uns einig. We are in agreement on this.
Da hast du (völlig) recht. You are absolutely right.
Das stimmt. That’s true.
Daran gibt es keinen Zweifel. There’s no doubt about that.
Note: When agreeing to do something in German, use “Einverstanden” instead.
Accepting a point but …
Sometimes we do get what our counterpart is trying to tell us, but still can’t agree with them. In such a situation, one of the following phrases might come in handy:
Sicher, aber… Sure, but…
Natürlich, aber… Of course, but…
Das mag wohl sein, aber… That may well be, but…
Das ist mir schon klar, aber… I realize that, but….
Ich kann dich verstehen, aber… I can understand you, but…
Da hast du vielleicht recht, aber… You may be right, but….
Ich verstehe, was Sie meinen, aber… I see what you mean, but….
Expressing disagreement in German
You can’t always agree with everyone. However, try to stay polite and respectful when you have to contradict your counterpart. Here’s how it’s done:
Da muss ich Ihnen widersprechen. I have to disagree with you there.
Das ist einfach nicht so. It’s just not like that.
Da irren Sie sich. You are mistaken.
Da liegen Sie falsch. You are wrong.
Da stimme ich nicht (ganz) mit dir überein. I don’t (entirely) agree with you there.
Darüber denke ich anders. I think differently about that.
Ich bin da anderer Meinung. I disagree.
Darüber sind wir uns leider nicht einig. Unfortunately, we don’t agree on that.
Da hast du (völlig) unrecht. You’re (completely) wrong about that.
Das stimmt nicht. That’s not true.
Ganz und gar nicht! Not at all!
And here’s how you maybe shouldn’t do it:
In German, you can also simply use “doch!” (yes, it does/it is!) to contradict what’s just been said with only one word.
Sitting on the fence
If you don’t feel like getting into a discussion or simply don’t have a clear opinion on a topic, you can fall back on these useful German phrases:
Es kommt darauf an. It depends.
Ich weiß nicht, was ich davon halten soll. I don’t know what to make of this.
Ich habe dazu nicht viel zu sagen. I don’t have much to say about that.
Das ist mir egal. I don’t care.
Keine Ahnung. No idea.
Ich weiß nicht. I don’t know.
An interesting word that occurs mainly in Austrian or Bavarian is “Jein”. It means “Yes, but not really” and is usually followed by a more detailed explanation. An example would be: “Magst du Katzen?” “Jein. Ich finde sie süß, bin aber leider dagegen allergisch.”
Clearing up misunderstandings
In a lively discussion, it happens that people simply talk past each other. This often leads to misunderstandings. You can cool thing down a bit with the following phrases:
Da musst du mich falsch verstanden haben. You must have misunderstood me.
Das habe ich anders gemeint. I meant that differently/That wasn’t what I meant.
Sie verstehen nicht, was ich damit sagen will. You don’t understand what I’m trying to
Da gab es wohl ein Missverständnis. There must have been a misunderstanding.
Das habe ich so nie gesagt. I never said that.
To explain what you actually meant, it’s best to start with:
Was ich eigentlich sagen wollte, ist, dass … What I actually wanted to say is that …
Moving on to another topic
Sometimes there is no other way than to agree to disagree. Here are a few ways you can end the conversation or elegantly change the subject:
Lassen Sie uns das Thema wechseln. Let’s change the subject.
Lass uns über etwas anderes sprechen. Let’s talk about something else.
Reden wir ein anderes Mal weiter. Let’s talk more another time.
Wir kommen wohl auf keinen grünen Zweig. I don’t think we’re getting anywhere.
Da werden wir uns wohl nie einig. I don’t think we’ll ever agree on that.
Vergessen wir das. Let’s forget about that.
Ist doch egal. Never mind.
Lassen wir es gut sein. Let’s leave it at that.
Want to get serious with your intermediate German conversation skills?
If you’ve read this post, chance are you’re an upper beginner or lower intermediate German learner, eager to engage at a new level with German and (more importantly) with German speakers.
That’s why you want to describing experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Mastering the German opinion phrases in this post will help you well on the way.
But what next?
You need more useful words and phrases across a range of topics and for many different situations.
You need to consolidate the basic grammar patterns that you already know and add new grammar patterns to help you express more complex ideas.
But all the vocab and grammar won’t be enough unless you practise using German a lot too.
In a conversation, you won’t get very far if you can’t understand what your conversation partners are saying.
Listening skills are so important that I’ve put them centre stage in my free five-part email method training series for intermediate German learners and in my flagship German course, the Weekly German Workouts, where we put my methods to work to get your ready for more confident German conversations in a matter of weeks.
The focus of the training and the course is on learning common set phrases (“chunks”) German, like those in this post, on grammar patterns you can use and on the best way to hone your conversational listening skills.
You can check out the course here:
And follow the link below to get the free email training, which introduces the methods, so that you can start using them right away for yourself:
|Discover how YOU can use Dr P's free Weekly Workout Routine to get ready for more confident German conversations in a matter of weeks. Click here to get the training !|