Spoken German Bits 1 – “Alles gut”

alles-gut-imageHello everyone,

and welcome to a brand new mini series called Spoken German Bits. In this series, we’ll look at the colloquial side of German. It can be a word, a common expression,  a weird grammar structure or even a feature of pronunciation. All these things that you get to hear every day in Germany but that are absolutely not part of standard learning material – maybe because the material hasn’t caught on yet or maybe because the stuff is considered “wrong”. But wrong, shmong. Language is super democratic and if everybody does something, then that’s the language.
Anyways’… so this is what the new series is all about and today we’ll start with a look at a very useful phrase :

Alles gut

Now you’re like “What? That’s like All Good. Doesn’t seem particularly special to me.” But my observation is that the phrase has gotten pretty damn trendy recently. It has two usages and while one has been pretty standard for a while, I noticed that the second usage really caught on recently. Like… I hear it from all different kinds of people – teens, retired people, managers, models, TV hosts. And then, last night, when the neightbors’s cat that hangs out in our courtyard a lot, used it I realized: it is time to cut back on the dru… uh… I mean, it’s time to tell you about the phrase.  So you can impress your friends with how much you sound like a native speaker. And you can use it every day.
So are you ready to take a look? Perfect.

“Alles gut” for greetings at work

I’m pretty sure most if not all of you know the phrase

“Wie geht’s?”

 

Or the more personal sounding version

“Wie geht’s dir?”

 

What many non native speakers don’t know is that the phrase is nothing to throw around like the English “How’s it going.”

For example, if a random barista at Starbucks were to greet me by saying:

“Hey, wie geht’s dir heute?”

 

I would be really confused. Like… “Wait, do we know each other? Why should I tell you how I am?”.
And it’s  similar at work. Like… back a couple of years ago I’d work every Sunday morning. I’d get there all tired and my German colleague would be like “Hi” or even just wave and I’d wave back.  And we do like each other. My Italian colleague however, he would be like “Heeey, wie geht’s dir?” and that always felt a little tiny bit annoying. Well, annoying sounds so strong. Just… slightly uncomfortable. I’d feel like  “Jesus, don’t make me assess how I am and then word it.“. I’m  not used to just responding with something like “Good”, let alone “Great!!”. I mean… some aspects of my life are good, others are okay and some could be better so I don’t want to say just “Gut” because that would neglect that there’s ample room for improvement.  Okay seriously, German just doesn’t have this automated script and when being asked “Wie geht’s” a part of me feels compelled to give an accurate assessment of how I am. Like…

“Yeah, well I didn’t sleep very well and I’m still a bit sad about
that Maria thing but it’s not too bad. It’s okay. Don’t wanna complain. Could be worse.”

Now, these were personal impressions, but I think to an extent it is true for all Germans. The question “Wie geht’s” and even more so “Wie geht’s dir?” is not for a quick small talk between strangers and half strangers. And asking people you’re not really friends with “Wie geht’s” all the time, especially when they’re in a hurry or have work to do, can quickly get on their nerves. Not really badly, of course. Just a bit.

And that’s where Alles gut? comes into play. Because that question works much better.

“Hey na, alles gut?”
“Ja, bei dir?
“Auch.”
“Cool, bis später.”

 

This feel natural and comfortable. I think it’s because this is a yes or no question, not an open question like “Wie geht’s”.  I have only two options to respond and saying “Ja” is just much easier for me if life is like 67,31 percent good than saying “Gut.” Sounds stupid but it really makes a difference.
Now, of course this is not to be taken literal. Some people do greet each other at work using “Wie geht’s?” and some people find “Alles gut?” a bit presumptive. But I think overall, using “Hi, alles gut?” for the greeting small talk at work or at school feels more natural and it’s easier on your co-workers than the emphatic “Na, wie geht’s dir?”. 

Cool. Now let’s get to the other alles gut.

“Alles gut” as “don’t worry”

This is the usage that I think is super trendy at the moment. Literally, alles gut means all good and people throw it in more and more as just a slight casual way to say “There’s no reason to worry.”
It’s really hard to explain, so let’s look at some examples

  • “Oh hey Schatz, was machst du denn hier? Äh, die Frau mit der ich grad’ geredet hab, ist die Frau von meinem Kollegen. Nicht das du denkst, ich hab’ die angemacht oder so. ”
    Alles gut, kannst ruhig flirten.”
  • “Oh, hey honey what are YOU doing here? Uhm the woman I was just talking to, she’s the wife of a co-worker. Just so you don’t think I was hitting on her or something.”
    “All good, you can flirt.”

I hope these examples gave you an impression of how the phrase is used. It’s really for small everyday worries or problems. I use the phrase a LOT. I don’t know… it just feels nice and relaxed. And as I said… I feel like the use is increasing and spreading. So if you throw one in here and there, you’ll sound super uber native because you’re using the stuff that’s not even canon yet :).

So that’s it. This was our quick look at the phrase Alles gut. It’s the perfect translation for “How are you?” and “How’s it going?” in context of quick, small talk greetings, and it’s a nice and fashionable  way to say “No worries.”

If you live or have lived in Germany, what are your experiences with the phrase? Have you heard it? Do you use it? And if you have a job here, what are your experiences with Wie geht’s?  And if you’re a German native speaker, do you agree with what I said? Or do you call BS?
I’m really curious to read your thoughts about it so leave me a comment.
I’m out for now, schöne Tage euch und bis nächstes Mal.

Click here to download all audio files (zip-archive, mp3 files)

for members :)

49
Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
duuuudeZ
duuuudeZ

Hi, Emanuel! Kann man ‘alles klar’ so nutzen?

Ubungmachtdenmeister
Ubungmachtdenmeister

Hey schön. Ich habe in Bavaria “alles klar” gehört. Ich glaube, dass es der gleiche Ausdruck hat, wenn jemand einer andere begrüßt. Nur meiner Meinung.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thaaanks for making this new series, it’s really great and useful!!! :)

PaulJ123
PaulJ123

Isn’t ” Find’st du das voll scheiße?” a little crude?

marionhaftel

Oh Cool post! I have been hearing “Alles gut” quite a bit here in Stuttgart also, in the “no worries” sense. I picked it up early, since it is so similar to how we have been using “Its all good”,in America for a few years now. A friend of mine here was in a Psych Klinik for a few weeks and he said the staff used it constantly to calm people down :-D. What I found particularly useful though, was your explanation of “wie gehts?” . While I had it explained to me that Germans take this question seriously, it is hard as an American to not ask this. As you are likely familiar, the answer in America is going to be a word or two or at most, “Well it could be better but I am hanging in”. This allows the questioner to pursue it further or let it go with “Well good to hear, hope things smooth out for you”, or something like that. So this alternative question,”Hey na, Alles gut?” is awesome. I start today! It is similar to what we use down South in the US where I am from where people ask each other, “You doing alright?”, which is also a yes or no question. It is very informal. People often say “Yeah, its going”, and tone of voice has everything to do with what that means. BTW “Alles klar” to me means we are on the same sheet of music and understand each other. Is that accurate? So Thanks for a great and useful post! Anders/Verschieden/Unterschiedlich was also very useful once I read it a couple of times so I really got it. I got to use my improved knowledge while shopping today.

Spandy
Spandy

This is a great idea for a series! I enjoy learning conversational German the most, so I will check in for this one every time!

Benjamin Geer

It might help to clarify the difference between “Alles gut” and “Alles Gute” (as in “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”), because this confused me at first.

Thulasi Sasi

Hey I’ve come across this phrase a lot of times. Although I think “Alles Klar?” seems to be the more popular one in my uni. And I’ve picked up on it too.. so much better than “Wie geht’s” when people actually take the question literally. Anyways great job on your part with this post! You somehow have a way to make something so banal sound interesting.

Chuck Gleaves
Chuck Gleaves

Several years ago I was working at a German youth hostel. My German was not very good, so I was very surprised when my very friendly and attractive German co-worker shot daggers at a male stranger who approached and said Was ist los? I assumed she thought he was hitting on her. I know this is not Wie gehts, but I wonder if it has some of the same trappings.

berlingrabers

I definitely hear both senses of this a lot. It’s taken a while to get used to the “how ya doin'” version of it. I think that’s a particularly American difficulty. I was in England a few months back, and you hear a lot of “you all right, mate?” with the same meaning – for an American, this really sounds like you’re worried that something’s wrong.

berlingrabers

Although, by the way, you can also say “it’s all good” in American English to mean “no worries.”

Laney1999
Laney1999

Hallo! Ich heisse Morgan und ich moechte nur hi zu sagen! Vielen dank zu jedermann, weil ich eine neue kostenlos Mitgliedschaft bekam haben, weil ich pleite bin, und du hast mich geholfen!

Anonymous
Anonymous

From your examples “Kein Stress, wir trinken eh erst noch Kaffee, alles gut.” called my attention, because I am living in Vienna now and “eh” is used ALL the time. Könntest du bitte es mir (uns) eklären? I think it is used as a “really” sometimes like in “es ist eh alles gut” but some other times like in your example it’s not really clear, but probably its one of those things for which one just have to develop a feeling, right?

Chuck Gleaves
Chuck Gleaves

Thanks for the insight on “Was ist los?” I have a totally different interpretation of my aforementioned interaction. Now I imagine the German guy was saying to my female German companion, “What the hell are you hanging out with that guy for?” It is shocking how little I really know about what is going on with personal interactions when I visit Germany.

Paul C.
Paul C.

Hey great post Emanuel. My one quick questio: Can you use “Schon gut” to mean the same “no worries” or “it’s cool” or “it’s all good”? That was the impression that I have been under for many years now and have used the phrase a few times talking with German penpals. They never corrected me. Thanks

Anonymous
Anonymous

Would ‘läuft bei dir?’ or something like this be another alternative to ‘alles gut?’?

Jen
Jen

Ooh, ich freue mich sehr darauf, mehr Artikels in dieser Serie zu lesen :) Ich rede oft online mit deutschen Sprecher, und es kann sehr schwer für mich sein, ihre informelle Sprache zu verstehen. Als ich zum ersten Mal mit “alles klar?” gegrüßt worden war, war ich so verwirrt, dass ich vorgegeben habe, dass ich offline war :P. (Ich hatte damals gedacht, dass ‘alles klar?’ bedeutet, dass man sich auf etwas Bestimmtes bezieht.)

Adam
Adam

Ich bedanke mich für die Hilfe. Ich habe zwei Jahre in Deutschland verbracht und ich habe dort Deutsch gelernt, aber man muss die Sprache üben, sonst wird das Deutsch eingerostet :)

Deborah
Deborah

Hi there. Thanks for the offer of sponsorship help. It’s really appreciated. I’m going to get stuck in now but just quickly…I can’t hear anything in the audio files. Deborah

Audrey
Audrey

Hi Emanue! I was in Germany for 2weeks with my host family and every time my correspondent started arguing with his mom, she stopped the argument by saying “alles gut! ” but yeah for me it was mostly the adults who used this expression the most :)

Angie
Angie

Hi Emanuel, I have a translation question, but it isn’t related to this post. What does “Haut nah” mean, I know Haut is skin, and together it’s coming up as “Up close” in translation searches. Does it mean skin to skin, and if it does, why would a Tankstelle Arbeiter use it? Thanks.