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In English it can it is normal to walk into somewhere and say "smells good" or "looking good" providing you are in an informal setting. Does German have an equivalent way of saying something like, without directly referring to the subject or what you are talking about. Would it be as simple as saying 'riecht gut!'? Or would there be a more idiomatic way to say this?

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"Das sieht gut aus" or "Sieht gut aus" can be used, both in the literal sense ("I like the look of this") and in the sense of referring to future prospects ("I don't know for sure yet, but I feel this is going to end well").

I am only aware of "Das riecht gut" literally referring to an actual smell.

  • "Sieht schon mal nicht schlecht aus" combines the uncertainty due to the sentence only commenting the first look and not wanting to call something good right away, but notice that it's at least not bad (it has a chance of being any "amount" of good). – Sam Nov 16 '14 at 15:57
  • @Sam: Yes, though that over-emphasizes the preliminarity and hesitation compared to the more optimistic English "looking good". – wolfgang Nov 16 '14 at 17:55
  • @Sam: Also, the use of the colloquial "mal" instead of the correct "einmal" or the Austrian colloquial "amal" places it firmly outside my own dialect group :-) – wolfgang Nov 16 '14 at 17:57
  • Well, I guess you're not interested in the differences between the 26 dialects of Switzerland, then, eh :D – Sam Nov 16 '14 at 19:03
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You can use the verb "duften", which by itself means "to smell good", so you don't even have to add the adjective "good". On the other hand, if it smells especially good you can say "Es duftet wundervoll!". You can also use this verb with "nach" to say what it smells of (e.g. "Es duftet nach Kaffee"), and you can specify where it smells good (e.g. "...in diesem Garten"). As far as I'm aware, there's no reason why you couldn't just walk into a room and say "Mmm, es duftet!", specifying neither what it smells of nor where specifically the smell is emanating from. However, in my experience people usually use it in reference to something specific that they already know to be the source of the smell (e.g. sitting at the dinner table as the lid is lifted from the soup...)

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    Be aware that the language also knows things like irony or ssrcasm. Not everybody entering a room and exclaiming 'das duftet' necessarily wanted to say it smells nice... – Vogel612 Nov 16 '14 at 23:19
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"Hier riecht es gut!" ("Hier bleibe ich zum Essen!")

You can comment on a situation you walk in on using "Sieht gut aus".

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