German phrase of the day: Na gut

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
German phrase of the day: Na gut
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This innocuous sounding German phrase can be tricky to get the hang of, but once you do you'll find you can't live without it.


Why do I need to know na gut?

If you're hoping to make your German sound a bit more fluid and natural, adding little colloquialisms like this are the perfect way to do it. What's more, these little phrases - known in fancy linguistic terms as discourse markers - are there to give you some much-needed thinking time, so you can also plan what you're saying next.

What does it mean?

Na gut (pronounced like this) is fairly difficult to directly translate, but you can roughly equate it to English phrases like "well", "okay", "alright" and "fair enough". 

It's one of those phrases where inflection and context counts a lot to define the meaning, but you'd generally use it to express reluctant agreement, resignation or acknowledgement when someone makes an argument or is trying to convince you of something.

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As an example, a child might be trying to talk their mother around to buying them chocolate by arguing that they got a good grade in their last test at school. "Na gut," the mother might say, before agreeing to buy the chocolate bar (but only a small one). 

Alternatively, you could use "na gut" when debating with yourself and factoring in a point you hadn't considered before.

For instance, you might be complaining that a friend is always late and then realise that you were also late the last time you met. "Na gut", you might say to yourself, before reminding yourself that she's not late as much as she used to be.


Of course, you don't always have to say "na gut" with a sigh of resignation. If you're talked into heading out with friends after planning a night in, you might say a decisive, "Na gut! Lass uns gehen." (All right! Let's go.) since it is the weekend after all. 

If you want to really get the hang of it, check out this song by Die fantastischen Vier, a 90s hip-hop band from Stuttgart. It's a masterclass in using 'na gut'.

Anything else I should know?

You've probably heard the word "gut" before and have a solid grasp of what it means - but what's that little word "na" doing in there? And why is it used in so many little German phrases?

Well, "na" is a versatile little discourse marker that can be used as a vessel to express your feelings or intentions. Depending on how you say it, this little two-letter word can show your surprise, wonder, scepticism, impatience or even annoyance, or simply lead into a question like, "Na, wie geht's?" (Well, how are you?).

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Na


It can even be a stand-alone phrase. "Naaa?" you might ask a good friend upon meeting up, basically implying "How's it going?".

There are no golden rules for using "na", so the best way to get used to it is to chat to a lot of native speakers and get a feeling for how it's used in the wild.

Use it like this:

"Willst du mit zum Kino heute Abend? Der Film klingt top!"

"Na gut, morgen habe ich sowieso frei." 

"Do you want to go to the cinema tonight? The film sounds great!"

"Alright, I'm off tomorrow anyway."

"Bist du dir sicher, dass du einen Regenschirm brauchst? Heute soll eher sonnig sein!"

"Na gut, ich kann ihn auch zuhause lassen."

"Are you sure you need an umbrella? It's supposed to be sunny today!"

"Alright, I can leave it at home."


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