My company's official language is German and when I am asking for vacation days from my boss (via email), it's always cringy because I know I am butchering the German language.

How could I ask for vacation days for specific dates?

Example in English:

Hey Jim, I would like to request the following dates as holidays/vacation days:

11/11/2019 - 30/11/2019

Best regards,

What I would send is the following:

Hallo Jim

Ich möchte folgende Daten als Urlaubstage anfordern.

Grusse (cause we're Swiss)

Just for the record, I'm not a native English speaker so that's probably cringy as well. So if anyone would like to enrich the request in German, please go ahead!

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    Welcome to the site Xander. Please note, that we do not provide an individual translation service. However, we can help you with specific problems. Please provide your try to say it (we don't judge if it's "cringy" or otherwise not perfect). :) Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 9:33
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    Ich möchte an folgenden Tagen Urlaub nehmen: … Grüsse (or Gruesse if your keyboard lacks ü).
    – Janka
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 10:25
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    @Janka you should really make this comment into an answer and indeed I shall add umlaut, I just was a bit lazy with switching keyboards.
    – Xander
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 11:43
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    The German SE dilemma: If you ask "How does one ask for time off in German?", the first comment will be "Please be more specific". If you are more specific, the first comment will be "Oh, we're sorry, that question is too specific. We're not an individual translation service".
    – johnl
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 12:22
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    Kinda sad to see that in most SE's like these, people get generally attacked and abused when asking questions unless they conform 100% to some 100 step guideline people have in their head. If you're too uptight to help someone out, you can just move on and not reply to this specific topic. Just my 2c
    – Xander
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 13:04

4 Answers 4


ich würde mir gerne in folgendem Zeitraum Urlaub nehmen wollen: (~I would like to take vacation in the following period of time)

11.11.19 - 30.11.19

Ich hoffe das geht so in Ordnung (~I hope that this is okay)


(Note that in German, usually the first word after the greeting - in this case "ich" - is written without capital letters)

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    The wollen before the colon does not contribute to the meaning but gives the sentence an over-cautious touch.
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 11:00
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    You should address why the sentences proposed by OP doesn't work. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 11:15
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    Welcome to German.SE. I personally would set a frame around your answer. wie wo was warum jetzt kommt. Not jump right into it and leave the reader alone where which part starts. The inline translation - it is your answer, not mine. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 12:08
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    I'd drop the "wollen" - you definitely don't need permission to want something.
    – guntbert
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:26
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    I would like to stress that both the English and German original sentences stated that the OP wanted to take specific days off, not a period. The hyphen indicates that they do indeed mean a period of time, which is properly worded here as »Zeitraum«. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 7:50

So you can formulate this a number of different ways, but the way I would personally do it is:

ich hätte gern die folgenden Tage frei, da ich [xyz] vor habe. (Ist das in Ordnung?)

This translates to “I would like to have the following days off, since I have [xyz] planned. (Is that alright?)”

It’s a matter of preference. I put the question in parentheses to indicate that it’s optional to ask; I personally like to do it, but I’m also a student and generally ask for permission to do things. Others may disagree, especially if you’re a “real adult,” so to speak. That said, if I NEED to take certain days off - and it’s not up for debate - I would say:

an den folgenden Tagen bin ich wegen [xyz] abwesen, und ich hoffe, dass das in Ordnung ist.

This literally translates to: “On the following days I will be absent because of [xyz], and I hope that that’s alright.” It’s more definitive, but like I said, it boils down to preference and occasion.

Your answer - which others have pointed out as flawed - uses a “1:1” translation and has an unnatural-sounding word choice, which is probably why you feel the way you do. (That intuition is a good sign!)

The word “Daten” is more commonly used to mean “data,” and though it can also refer to “dates,” it would be used in a different context. Someone please correct me here, but you could say something like “Liste der Daten meiner Abwesenheit:” (“List of dates on which I’ll be absent:”) followed by a list of dates, but it’s strangely formal and technical given your example email.

Furthermore, you’re missing a definite article “die” (ie you should have “die folgenden Daten”) instead. Or you could say “folgendes” but that’s neither here nor there in this case.

The word “anfordern” also sounds wrong, but I’m not entirely sure why. I would say that it’s also a strange but understandable choice for this context. If your company has an application process for vacation days, you could say “beantragen” but I assumed that this is not the case, since you are asking someone directly. However, if this is the equivalent of “applying” then you could say:

ich würde gern die folgenden Tage zum Urlaub beantragen.

This means: “I would like to apply for the following vacation days.”

I’d like to add, as a native English speaker, that your first email is not cringy and was also perfectly understandable and grammatically correct as far as I can tell. I might, however, guess that you’re not from my country at the very least (USA) based on wording, but honestly that doesn’t matter. There’s a limit as to how colloquial a professional email should get, anyway.

Disclaimer: I also hope that a native German speaker can quickly verify/critique my answers. My background is as a German language learner of many years and having myself completed an internship there (and asking for vacation days, as well) but my wording may also be flawed. So just because it’s the way I would do it doesn’t mean it’s the way I should do it.

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    Instead of >"ich würde gern die folgenden Tage zum Urlaub beantragen" I'd use "ich würde gern für die folgenden Tage Urlaub beantragen". Aber "We're Swiss" can make a difference, of course. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 23:13
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    Wozu man den Urlaub nimmt gehört nicht in den Urlaubsantrag - man ist da keine Rechenschaft schuldig. Um neue Kräfte für den Job zu sammeln, natürlich. ;) Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 5:08
  • Das stimmt, aber das auch nichts mit dem Antrag zu tun. Wenn man OPs E-Mail schicken würde, bräuchte man auch im Prinzip nichts beantragen. Deswegen habe ich’s nur erwähnt. Bei mir im Büro (als PraktikantInnen/WerkstudentInnen) war kein Urlaubsantrag nötig. Wir haben halt den Chefs und unserem Team eine kurze E-Mail geschrieben. Bei uns wäre es doch eher assi gewesen keine Erklärung zu geben, weil wir uns kennen und ziemlich viel miteinander reden, aber es kommt drauf. Meine Antwort passt zu meiner Umgebung. OP sollte erklären, ob es ähnlich bei ihm/ihr aussieht. Lockere Atmosphäre oder nicht?
    – eurieka
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:32

Similar to English, there's a difference whether you

  • need

  • request

  • ask for

  • apply for

vacation. Depends, whether your boss has the task

A) to be aware that you're off

B) try to organize some replacement for you

"beantragen" covers both "request" and "apply for" and adds a formal tone, if that's intended.

Ich möchte gern am ... ( oder: von ... bis ... einschliesslich ) Urlaub nehmen, und hoffe, dem steht nichts im Wege.

BTW: We have so many vacation days and it needs to be administrated and filed, so there should be a little form called "Urlaubsantrag" containing

name, first day, last day, number of days, [substitute (signature),] approved (signature)

in every company :)


Hallo Joachim,

Ich beantrage Urlaub für die Zeit vom 11. bis zum 30.11.2019


Urlaub wird in der Regel beantragt und muss gewährt werden, wenn nicht gewichtige Gründe dagegen sprechen. Begründen muss man seinen Urlaubsanspruch nicht - die Verweigerung müsste begründet werden.

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