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"I see" is a phrase that's used very often in a conversation in English.

A: How much does the book cost?

B: 50 dollars.

A: I see.

Is there an equivalent in German? I'm quite sure it's not ich sehe. And ich verstehe doesn't seem appropriate when the thing to understand is very simple information, as in the case of this example.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Well, I would say that the best option is

Ach so!

I've never heard Ich sehe, but ich verstehe could mean I see as well:

– Mein Wagen war echt teuer
– Wie viel?
XY Tausend Euros, denn es ist ein Mercedes
– Ach so! // Ich verstehe // Aha!

(the last option, aha!, due to falkb's comment)

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It's interesting and new to me that you could use Ich verstehe in the conversation you gave. I thought verstehe would only refer to an understanding of some complex thing, not simple information like that. –  Mika H. Oct 16 '13 at 3:59
    
And Ach so! sounds like a great phrase. Thanks! –  Mika H. Oct 16 '13 at 4:01
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Aha is also a good translation, though AFAIK an English Aha is more a doubting, a common reason for misunderstanding when Germans state a German Aha when they're speaking English. –  falkb Oct 16 '13 at 7:41
    
"Ach so" works best if you understand something that you haven't really understood before. In the example given here, @falkb's "aha" is the best choice by far. Had the person asked "WHY is the car so expansive?" then the "ach so" would be perfect. –  Emanuel Oct 16 '13 at 12:03
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There is not a fixed 1:1 translation of "I see" to German, as this also depends on the context used.

If it was used in the context given in the example it is fine to use interjections such as "Aha", "Ach so", "Oha", "Gut", "Danke" or the like as an answer but we may also hear a confirming answer like e.g.:

"So viel?" - "So wenig?" - "Das habe ich (nicht) erwartet."

The answers will be different in another context. Below just a few possibilities with an exemplatory German counterpart (way from perfect but intended to show possible variations):

    • A: The overall customer satisfaction increases with the price of our product
    • B: I see, but isnt quality the major factor still?

    Translates: "Ja schon, aber ist die Qualität nicht immer noch der bestimmende Faktor?"

    • A: To open the case you will have to pull the slider at the bottom in addition.
    • B: I see! Thank you for the hint.

    Translates: "Jetzt hab ichs kapiert. Danke für den Hinweis!

    • A: You cant upgrade your smart phone because it is too old.
    • B: I see. What phones are still supported?

    Translates: "Schade! Welche Handys werden denn noch unterstützt?

I believe this list could almost endlessly be extended.

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Ach so ........ :) –  Hagen von Eitzen Oct 16 '13 at 18:48
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Das hab ich auch grad gedacht. Loriot lässt grüßen. Evelyn H. Hat das "Ach so." perfektioniert. In einigen Fällen reicht sogar ein einfaches "Ach ...". Loriot kontert gerne mit "So, so!" - Soviel mehr nonverbaler Inhalt als "I see." –  teylyn Oct 21 '13 at 7:17
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