In the US shaking hands and saying your name followed by “Nice to meet you” is more or less universal (correct me if I’m wrong).

This turns out to be a really deep-rooted and important social custom for me that I found difficulty shaking when living in Germany and Sweden for some years.

I have been told that “Ich habe mich gefreut, dich kennenzulernen“ would sound extremely artificial and kind of saccharine for an introduction, and that the better, shorter “Freut mich” still just doesn’t have the universality of the American “Nice to meet you.”

The problem I am now facing is that I cannot feel natural or friendly only extending my hand and saying my name. With new colleagues at work I need some follow up thing to say to show I am polite, friendly and open to getting to know them a bit.

I am pretty sure German people must have some common follow up expression they say instead of any direct translation to “Nice to meet you.”

For example, in Swedish it’s very common to say “It’s been a long time” when it has been a while since seeing someone. This is a similarly culturally universal set phrase that just has a widely understood social function, it’s a common and widely understood social signal, and similarly it doesn’t have the same ubiquity as it does in the U.S.

So what would you say as a German person after exchanging names with somebody? “Willkommen”? It sounds weird, since I’m not responsible for hosting people at the workplace. “Gut dass du hier ist“? I‘m looking for something really socially natural.

Thanks very much

1 Answer 1


Ich habe mich gefreut, dich kennenzulernen

This is Perfekt (perfect tense) and sounds indeed artificial. If you use Präsens (present tense) instead:

(Es) freut mich, Sie/Dich kennenzulernen.


Ich freue mich, Sie/Dich kennenzulernen.

This would sound absolutely OK, even though a bit on the formal side - which is actually to be expected from someone speaking a foreign language. People learning a foreign language usually learn the written (and formally correct) variety and only later the spoken variant with its shortcuts and idioms.

The short "Freut mich" or "Sehr erfreut" (short for "Ich bin sehr erfreut [Sie/Dich kennenzulernen].") would be what native speakers would use. You can also use some sort of greeting (depending on the time of the day "Guten Tag", "Guten Abend", etc.) and you would not come across impolite or unfriendly at all.

At long last: don't worry too much. Non-native speakers are cut some slack anyway by the natives in most cultures and the german-speaking areas (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, parts of Italy, parts of Czech, ...) are no exception to that.

Addendum: as @jonathan.scholbach correctly commented

[Es ist] Schön, Sie/Dich kennenzulernen.

would be a less formal variant which is also quite common. Notice that it is mostly used in the elliptical form, skipping the "Es ist" (even though this would be the grammatically correct form).


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