Why do I need to know auf dein Nacken?
This is the kind of phrase you’ll never find in a German textbook, but you might hear it in the wild so it’s good to learn it for informal situations.
What does it mean?
The phrase auf dein Nacken! literally translates to on your neck and means something like ‘this is on you’ or ‘Your treat’ or ‘you pay’. You can also use it on yourself with mein/meinen Nacken which then means: ‘this is on me’, ‘my treat’ or ‘I got this’.
You can use this expression in the context of paying for something, for example when the bill comes in a restaurant or if it’s your round at the pub you might hear this from friends.
However, the phrase can also mean something like: ‘I’ll do it’ or ‘I’ll handle it’ so it doesn’t just have to apply to money situations. In this context, it’s more about when someone takes the lead on something.
For the eagle-eyed among you, you’ll notice that the grammar of this phrase isn’t technically correct. It should be: auf deinEN Nacken.
The imperfect grammar represents the origins of the phrase, which comes from young people speaking and chatting on social media or text.
However, sometimes when people use it to apply to themselves, they use the correct grammar: Auf meinen Nacken. But it can be shortened too. Basically, don’t worry too much about grammar rules on this one and just go with the flow!
The phrase has become more mainstream after it was a runner up in the German Youth Word of the Year 2018.
Keep in mind that this expression is for use with your good friends, not with your German boss (unless you’re on very friendly terms).
Use it like this:
– Hey, hast du Bock auf Binge-Watching Netflix mit Sushi?
– Auf dein Nacken oder wie?
– Hey, are you up for binge-watching Netflix with sushi?”
– Your treat or what?
If you want to use the expression yourself, you can easily integrate it into an informal conversation over text. For instance, if you are taking on a bill or a task, write: Auf meinen Nacken and everyone will know that you are performing the action, paying for something or taking the lead.