21

For example, in English:

P1: Can you keep this suitcase for me for an hour?
P2: Okay.

Or in the case of confirmation of information processed by the receiving person of the dialogue:

P1: I need the book now.
P2: Okay.

Do Germans use Okay or OK or what is the equivalent in those scenarios?

And considering the K in German sounds different, if OK is used, then how is it pronounced? Oh-kah? Also, if it is used at all, then where is the appropriate setting to use it (colloquially, professionally, etc.)?

6 Answers 6

22

Yes, German uses Ok, too, and the usage is very similar to its English counterpart — to the point where I wouldn’t be able to tell you any diverging usage off the top of my head. It is usually spelt out okay.

The pronunciation is not, however, /o:ka:/ as might have been expected from the pronunciation of the letters O and K. Two pronunciations exist and I would be hesitant to say either is superiour over the other:

  • /o:kɛɪ/ — basically pronouncing the K in an English way

  • /o:ke:/ — which might lead to an alternate spelling oke(e).

I wouldn’t use okay in very formal settings, in which I would consider it nigh unacceptable. However, in practically all other contexts — colloquial, casual professional, etc — I would consider it fine.

12
  • 18
    The formal settings must indeed be very formal for okay not being acceptable. Like an appointment with The Queen or The Pope or similar unique persons and/or circumstances. And Darth Vader wouldn't accept it either. :-)
    – PerlDuck
    Oct 26, 2016 at 19:54
  • 3
    Also encountered, semi-ironic /o:kaɪ̯/ and shortened /kɛɪ/ or /ke:/ ⟨k⟩, even sometimes reduplicated as /ke'ke:/. Almost equivalent gestures are 👍 and 👌, whereas 🙆 is not understood. It can be inflected as an adjective informally, okaye/-r/-s/-n/-m.
    – Crissov
    Oct 26, 2016 at 22:38
  • 5
    Just a short note, sometimes the o is dropped and simply "k" ("kay") is said. This is especially popular with youths. In written texts (SMS, WhatApp), sometimes "kk" is used instead of "ok" or "k".
    – Polygnome
    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:36
  • 5
    Same people say oki or okidoki
    – Iris
    Oct 27, 2016 at 11:31
  • 4
    @Crissov: I'd be careful with the second gesture (index finger and thumb together to form an O); here in Germany, that can also mean "a..hole". Oct 27, 2016 at 13:05
8

We (Germans) use and pronounce it the same way as English speakers do it. But just like in English we also have different terms to express agreement:

  • sicher — sure
  • natürlich/klar — of course

A simple JaYes is also common.

16
  • 13
    Jawohl/Jawoll is also used sometimes, though clicking your heels while saying it is mostly frowned upon nowadays ;-) Oct 26, 2016 at 21:25
  • 1
    @Crissov, na is not related to natürlich, cf. na denn? but natürlich denn? is complete gibberish; It is a flavoring particle. The comparison is very vague, but consider it roughly similar to how English speakers use well (which can also be a particle): Well, yes! / Well, sure. / Well, what [do you mean]? Oct 27, 2016 at 8:03
  • 1
    My teachers would often say "Alles klar?" with the expected response being either "Alles klar." or "OK" or "klar" if things were going well. Is that a habit that a german trying to teach english pupils has developed or is it a common phrase in some regions of Germany too? I think once of the assistants did use to use "OK?" for a similar purpose too and it almost fits your answer.
    – TafT
    Oct 27, 2016 at 13:34
  • 2
    @BruceWayne "genau" in German is "exactly" in English. It can also be an affirmative answer like in "You don't eat fish?" — "Exactly." ("Du isst keinen Fisch?" — "Genau."). We wouldn't say "OK" here but merely "Ja/Genau/Richtig/Stimmt" ("Yes/Exactly/Right/True"). It's just like in English.
    – PerlDuck
    Oct 27, 2016 at 18:41
  • 1
    @Roamer-1888, as an American English native, OK is not an intelligible response to Do you not eat fish?... Oct 28, 2016 at 9:28
2

It doesn't really matter what you say, it's almost the same. Okay can sometimes be taken sarcastic but not for foreigner. So don't worry.
The pronunciation for OK is "Oh keh", so just the letters; and for okay it is the English okay.

0

You can use: ok; klar; Alles klar; kein Problem; kein Thema (like "kein Problem, but more colloquial) ^^

0

The usage of your examples would be considered as a bit "cold" way to answer. You would usually answer in a more ensuring way like "yes, of course".

So if you ask a German "how do you like it?" and he or she replies "it's ok" its not good but also not too bad.

A more common way to to use it in German is in questions, i.e.: "Is it ok if I put my suitcase over here?" – "Yeah, sure!"

The correct form to use it in German is "ok" or "OK". The expression is actually German. It's an acronym for "ohne Korrektur" (no corrections). It was an office terminology for business people to sign the letters their secretaries wrote. So if the letter was fine, you would say: It is "ok" (without corrections) and therefore can be sent out.

That's why its considered as a more technically term.

2
  • 1
    The certain etymology of OK is unknown. "ohne Korrektur" is one of many proposed theories: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proposed_etymologies_of_OK
    – Iris
    Oct 28, 2016 at 9:13
  • I don’t trust that etymology. If it is true, why is okay considered as coming from English? Why does it end up getting pronounced okee rather than okah?
    – Jan
    Oct 28, 2016 at 11:05
0

I have been in Germany for 5 months now(Frankfurt and Berlin). I have noticed that though they understand Okay, the usage is very minimal. Most often I use Okay as a normal English speaker, but it sounds a bit out of place in Germany when I speak in German.

For the first scenario, the most probable response would be

P1: Can you keep this suitcase for me for an hour?

P2: Ja, gerne.

And for the second scenario, it would be "Okay" and then something like "I will give it" etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.