How to say “nice” in German

How to say “nice” in German

When studying German, you will quickly find yourself in need of using the adjective “nice”. During my German online classes, I realized that for many students, this appears to be a tricky task. In this article, you will get to know everything you need to use it the right way.

How to say “nice” in German 

In German, there are several possibilities to translate the English word “nice”. And this is when it becomes tricky. Often it is tough to find the right translation for the situation that you are talking about. In the following, I will explain the most frequent translations for this adjective.

“Nett” as the translation for “nice”

If you would like to say that a person is nice, “nett” is the adjective of choice. It is neither offending, nor does it cross personal borders, and therefore, one can also use this adjective when speaking more formal. E.g., “Die Busfahrerin ist wirklich sehr nett.” (The bus driver is really nice.)
Usually, “nett” is mostly used to describe a person, but when used for a situation or an object, people easily misunderstand it as being “cynical”.

“Gut” as the translation for “nice”

We can use the German adjective “gut” as a translation for “nice” in the sense of something is good. E.g., “Der Film gestern war sehr gut.” (The movie yesterday was very nice) OR “Im Urlaub hatten wir wirklich gutes Wetter” (On holiday we had really good weather.)
If you use “gut” to describe a person, its meaning is more in the sense that it is a good person. For instance: “Sie ist eine gute Mutter.” (She is a good mother)

“Schön/hübsch” as the translation for “nice”

It seems that “schön” respectively “hübsch” is the most difficult for many German students. “Schön” means “nice” with the meaning of beautiful. This means one can easily use it to describe an object. But many students make the mistake to use this adjective instead of “nett” when they want to describe a person. As you can already guess, this can cause you to find yourself in an awkward situation. For instance, you would like to say that the teacher is nice. The proper way is: “Der Lehrer ist nett.” Now, it you use “schön” instead, the meaning of your sentence will be that the teacher is beautiful. So be careful when using “schön”.

“Freundlich” as the translation for “nice”

The last standard translation for “nice” is “freundlich”. We can translate this adjective also as “friendly” and this is why we use it to describe a person and not a thing.
For example: “Es ist wichtig, nett zu deinen Klassenkameraden zu sein.” (It is important to be nice to your classmates. )

The right German translation 

After reading this article, it should be more evident to you when and for what or whom to use which translation for the English “nice”.
I hope that I could enlight your day a little :).

Bis bald!
Steffie

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