“Please” and “thank you” are commonly used in polite interactions with others. We use “please” when asking for something and “thanks” or “thank you” to express gratitude.

“Please call me back.”
[the other person calls them back]
“Thanks for calling me back.”

We also use “please” when confirming someone’s offer:

“Do you want another icecream?”
– “Yes, please!”

The British sometimes use the informal “ta” to thank someone:

“Can you take out the trash?”
– “I took out the trash.”
“Ta! (Look at me, I’m British!)”

In these scenarios, only the person requesting something uses polite language. How can the other party respond in kind?

When fulfilling a request, we want to let the person that asked something of us know we are glad to have helped them. Germans would reply with “bitte”, so they often use its translation in these situations:

“Thanks for calling me back.”
– “Please!”

This response is incorrect, and it sounds confusing to native speakers. The only correct use of “please” is in making requests, not responding to thanks. It is not used as a response in the same way the German “bitte” would be. When replying to someone’s thanks, there are several expressions available to us:

  • “No problem!”
  • “My pleasure!”
  • “Don’t mention it!”
  • “You’re welcome!”

We use “you’re welcome” most often. It sounds odd to Germans, who associate different interactions with the word “welcome”. Here we use it not to greet someone or welcome them into our home. When using it to reply to someone’s thanks, “you’re welcome” translates to “gern geschehen” or “bitte sehr”.

This might take some getting used to, but it will definitely level up your English again. You’re welcome.

All lessons in this course


An actual video

Two words can look like translations of each other even if they aren’t. The word “actual” is our first venture into this category of false friends.

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Making a photo

Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.

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What for a picture

Not every word in a sentence needs to appear in its translation. Languages don’t map to each other one-to-one.

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You can spot Germans by the fact that they use “or” to ask questions. Unfortunately, the word doesn’t work that way in English.

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Hello together

This mistranslation gave this course its name. “Together” refers to doing something with others. Here’s how to greet a group of people instead.

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What do you call a phone you can hold in your hand? Well, it’s not this. If you call it a handy, you’re in for some awkward looks.

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Becoming a car

“Bekommen” and “to become” are another pair of false friends. If you want something, make sure you’re not accidentally turning yourself into that thing.

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Less vs fewer

Is it “less mistakes” or “fewer mistakes”? They both seem to say that something is not as much as it was before, but only one is grammatically correct.

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False friends are everywhere. Eventually is very similar to the German “eventuell”, but it means something completely different.

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Why isn’t it “Whom let the dogs out”? The extra letter does not turn a regular “who” into a fancy version of itself.

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When coming from a language that doesn’t normally use them, where to put apostrophes can seem confusing.

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I vs me

Was an event organized by “Nina and I” or “Nina and me”? To find which one applies, take the other person out of the sentence for a second.

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Good vs well

You’re doing well, Superman is doing good. This lesson looks at the rules behind which of these two is correct in a given situation.

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Looking forward

When you’re excited about something, tell others what that thing is. On its own, you’re only saying half an expression otherwise.

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Gender-neutral pronouns

When you don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns, you can use they/them even when speaking about an individual person and not a group.

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We have been taught to always say please and thank you. Whether they are right for a situation depends on the context.

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Each other

Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.

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Other languages don’t always use the auxillary “do” as much as the English language does, so it’s often lost in translation.

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