How should I say "3 2 1 go!" in German? For example, in a race, start running after the countdown ends.

2 Answers 2


As an equivalent to "go", there's the adverb los. It basically is a request to start something, to hurry up, to get going etc.

Los, beeil Dich!
Come one, hurry up!

In a race, "los" can be used in multiple ways, for example

Drei, zwei, eins, los!
Three, two, one, go!

or in the opposite direction

Eins, zwei, drei, los!

The latter is similar to the English "on the count of three". With this variation, the "three" is often used as the "go" signal, omitting an explicit "go": "Eins, zwei, drei!"

You can also use a more "race specific" lingo, that you may encounter in official races:

Auf die Plätze. Fertig. Los!
On your marks. Ready. Go!

or similar

Achtung. Fertig. Los!
Attention. Ready. Go!

  • Los is not an adverb. It is the imperative form of the verb "losen" which means to loosen or release a thing.
    – Brendon
    Mar 16 at 21:30
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    the verb "losen" which means to loosen or release a thing ← you're thinking of lösen (imperative would be lös(e)). Mar 16 at 22:51
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    @Brendon: DWDS does not share your view.
    – guidot
    Mar 17 at 10:32
  • Indeed, those pesky dots on the Ö are not of decorative nature, even if Motörhead or Blue Öyster Cult make it seem so ;) There is a word "(aus)losen", i.e. to cast lots, which doesn't fit here. And if you said "Los!" as imperative, that also sounds rather informal, like there should be an apostrophe at the end. "Lose!" it would be, when speaking to one person you are on a first name basis with. Or "Löse" in the case of what you meant, "Löst!" in plural. Also informal, which would be weird in this context. Los feels like the beginning of "loslaufen!" but short & pragmatic for the purpose. Mar 17 at 18:19
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica I wouldn't call those versions the idiomatic uses necessarily, but rather a more formal or "official" use. I'd place them more in official races where prize money, ranking points or the like are in play, or where there might be formal protests if the race management didn't do things correctly. The same goes for the English versions like "On your marks. Ready. Go!", while the question explicitly asked about "Three two one go!". I edited the answer to make that more clear. Mar 18 at 11:51

Normally they will say: Auf die Plätze. Fertig. Los!

  • 1
    Welcomto to German SE. You may not have noted, that is is already covered in the top-voted answer. In that case a new answer is better received, if it gives some additional emphasis, highlight or background.
    – guidot
    Mar 18 at 9:23
  • sounds more appropriate to the situation. Danke
    – Daphne
    Mar 20 at 6:47

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