The Many Meanings of Bitte

Mom giving family cake
"Ein Stück Apfelkuchen bitte." (A piece of apple cake please.). Mint Images / Getty Images

Bitte is used a lot in German. The many meanings of Bitte are the following:

  • Please
  • You're welcome
  • Here you go (when handing something over)
  • May I help you?
  • Pardon?

How do you know which meaning is meant?

It all depends on the context, tone and the other words espressed alongside with Bitte. For example:

Expressing 'Pardon'

  • Ich bin heute einkaufen gegangen. (I went shopping today.)
  • Wie bitte? (Pardon me?)
  • Ich habe gesagt, dass ich heute einkaufen gegangen bin.

Expressing 'Here you go' when handing something over to someone.

  • - Ein Stück Apfelkuchen bitte. (A piece of apple cake please.)
  • - (Waiter serves the cake ) Bitte sehr.
  • - Danke.

Expressing 'May I help you?'

You will often hear simply Bitte/Bitte sehr/Bitte schön? in public places where service is provided. For instance waiters will often say this when they approach your table.
Expressing 'You're welcome'

  • Vielen Dank für Ihren Geschenk! (Thank you very much for your present)

  • Bitte sehr!

Expressing 'Please'

  • Kannst du mir bitte helfen? (Can you help me please?)

Expressing 'Yes, Please!'


  • Darf ich Ihnen den Mantel abnehmen? (May I take your coat?)
  • Bitte!
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Your Citation
Bauer, Ingrid. "The Many Meanings of Bitte." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, Bauer, Ingrid. (2017, March 2). The Many Meanings of Bitte. Retrieved from Bauer, Ingrid. "The Many Meanings of Bitte." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 22, 2018).