So there are three ways that I know of to say this:

Das macht Sinn.

This is what most native speakers would automatically use, as it is a literal translation of "that makes sense". A lot of German people use this as well, as far as I can tell. However, I heard that there was a better variant of it – one that sounded more German or better in German, so I prefer using it myself:

Das ergibt Sinn.

That's good, but I also came across this variant:

Das hat einen Sinn.

I'm not sure where this one fits in.

It might also be different in different contexts. Take this sentence in English for example:

I finished first it by "sliding" on my belly, if that makes any sense.

In this case, which one would I use? This is a slightly different "that makes sense" case, because it's more of an expression in this sentence.

  • 7
    Related: german.stackexchange.com/q/8132/3237
    – Carsten S
    Oct 12 '16 at 17:23
  • @CarstenS wow, that seems to address almost all points of my question. Should I close this question or should someone mark it as a duplicate or something? Never mind, I edited it into Colin's answer and accepted it. Oct 12 '16 at 17:27
  • 3
    Additional comment: I may be old-fashioned, but I still consider "Das macht Sinn" to be an anglizism, even though quite a few people use it (probably because of too literal movie dubbings etc.)
    – dirkt
    Oct 12 '16 at 17:35
  • @dirkt I don't think that that's being old-fashioned – I just think it's using the phrase properly. That's why I prefer using ergibt myself. Although one can theoretically say that macht also makes sense here now as so many use it, and isn't necessarily incorrect (just not preferable perhaps over ergibt). Oct 12 '16 at 17:38
  • 2
    On a side note, Belleslettres has a very interesting article about why both "make == machen" and "sense == Sinn" are terrible translations.
    – Em1
    Oct 13 '16 at 6:43

You are right, that a lot of people use the direct German translation Das macht [keinen] Sinn. But still that does not make it valid German. Duden says about that phrase:

etwas macht [k]einen Sinn (umgangssprachlich (=colloquial); etwas ergibt [k]einen Sinn, ist [nicht] verständlich, sinnvoll; nach englisch something makes sense)

The only valid translation is "Das ergibt Sinn.".

As stated in the other answers the third example "Das hat einen Sinn." can be translated in "There is a sense in it.".

This answer does not give any new information regarding the very good answer to this question. Thats why I voted to close this one as duplicate.


I think you could just simply say: "ah, stimmt"

  • Yes, I could, and I'll definitely keep this as an option in mind. Welcome to the site! Oct 12 '16 at 17:20
  • Und was bedeutet "stimmt" in dieses Context?
    – user71207
    Aug 11 '21 at 6:21

"Das hat einen Sinn" is like "there is a sense in that". The other two are like "that concludes in a sense".

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