How to answer to: “Entschuldigung’

During a short visit in Germany a young man ALMOST collided with me and said: "Entschuldigung gnädige Frau". I replied: "Kein Problem." Because I found his apologizing so courteous, I would have preferred to answer him with more politeness. What do you recommend?

Bei einem kurzen Besuch in Deutschland stieß ein junger Mann mich beinahe und sagte: "Entschuldigung gnädige Frau". Ich antwortete: "Kein Problem." Weil ich seine Entschuldigung so höflich fand, hätte ich ihm lieber höflicher geantwortet. Was empfehlen Sie?

(Automatisch übersetzt)

May 7, 2018


kein Problem is polite enough for a situation like that i guess. even as a german i could hardly think of anything better. keine Ursache, nichts passiert or schon in Ordung... would be options ,but not really more polite in my opinion. of course you could also say something like "Entschuldigung angenommen".

May 7, 2018

7hAu0bvY; thank you! Is it common to add "Herr" or "Frau" after one of these sentences?

May 7, 2018

not really... maybe one could say "Ich nehme Ihre Entschuldigung an" but that would be so formal that it would seem kind of strange already...

May 7, 2018

7hAu0bvY; I think I know what you mean; me trying to be ladylike ending up acting like some strange lady :) Thank you again! This helps me a lot.

May 8, 2018

well people could be tempted to ask if you think of yourself as a lady from the 19th century ... but since that guy was beeing old school as well i guess him calling you "gnädige Frau" and you answering "ich nehme Ihre Entschuldigung" an might have given the people around you a good laugh... like some kind of comical play... :-)

May 8, 2018

Ha ha! That would have been a nice display :)

May 10, 2018

"Gnädige Frau" is kind of old-fashioned. There are two options: the young man was behaving old school or being satirical. In any case "keine Ursache" would be a good reply, in a friendly tone or a exaggerated one, respectively.

May 8, 2018

AHA 3006; At first sight it was not likely the young man’s behaving was meant disrespectful. Now I’ve come to think that he could also be a visitor from abroad. I didn’t know this expression’s considered old school. I’m somewhat disappointed though (not because of your answer), I’ve been told that German people are polite, therefore I was happy to notice so. Anyway, thank you for your reply!

May 8, 2018

politeness is important in germany ... still the adress "gnädige Frau" (literal translated: gracious woman) is a little outdated (well there are people who still use it )... it was mainly used till around the middle of the 20th century i think, and equals the "madam" (or "milady") in english.

but dropping the use of the "gnädige Frau" as an adress does not mean one can not be polite anymore, does it? i mean, in english speaking countries you will not be adressed as "milady" on the streets either nowadays, will you?

if it was me i would have said something like : "oh entschuldigen Sie bitte, ich habe Sie (leider)zu spät gesehen" (oh excuse me please [unfortunately] i have seen you too late) and if it had really happend i would add: "Sind Sie Ordnung?" (is everything alright with you)?

maybe it is just me, but personally i believe that this is more polite than adding a title to Entschuldigung.

and i think that a average visitor from abroad would usually not know about the adress "gnädige Frau" so i think he was probably really an old school guy rather than a foreigner, though i can not be sure about this since i have not met him.

May 8, 2018

I still believe that the majority of the German people are polite. For me it was just so nice to experience this in such a way.
For sure, when someone had addressed me as you would have, I would have been pleasantly :) surprised too! Thank you again for the illustration, I’ve learned a thing or two!

May 10, 2018

of course, every woman loves to be adressed as milady ones in a while ;-)

May 10, 2018

Ha ha! True :D

May 12, 2018

"Keine Ursache", "Schon verziehen", "Nichts passiert".

May 8, 2018

Thank you Jussel11! Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe!

May 8, 2018

While 'Kein Problem' works here, you can further emphasize your endearment by adding the word 'Überhaupt'

So you can either say, "Überhaupt kein Problem" or "Es ist überhaupt kein Problem"

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May 9, 2018

German_Mastery; Thank you! “Überhaupt” sounds good, I think a fine way to strengthen the expression.

May 10, 2018

He did not actually collide with you? What did he apologize for then?

plot twist: He might have wanted to pass you?
"Entschuldigung" can also mean "Excuse me, can you move a little." Were you somehow blocking his way?
"gnädige Frau" makes it although sound so overly polite, like he did bump into you.
Gnädige Frau on itself makes the situation sound funny to me. Do a curtsey next time and have someone with you to introduce you to the gentleman before you speak to him and only then accept his apology. No idea how the old school bump into ladies rules are. Maybe even marriage after so much "intimacy". lol

May 16, 2018

Guntunge; Quite the contrary; the young man crossed my path :) Really, there was no sign of joking around with me.

Ha ha, you'd make it a classic farce. Let's write the second scene, in German of course :)

May 17, 2018

So you are in fact after the happily ever after scene? lol
That man must have made quite an impression on you just by one sentence. I have to try that line too, it seems. :-D
To continue, simply run full force into people. Something might happen if you do it often enough. :-D

So you were not in a joking mood when you were encountering this person?
An absolutely serious ( ;-) ;-) ) reply would then have been:
Nichts passiert, nur ein Schädelbruch/ nur ein paar gebrochene Rippen/ nur innere Verletzungen/ das alles zusammen.
... only a fractured skull/ only a few broken bones/ only internal injuries/ or all together. Don't really do that deadpan style, without smiling. Crazy person alarms would ring.

Without hearing how he said it and knowing how your paths intertwined, i can't properly get what he meant. You seem to have felt that it was friendly, but it might actually have been sarcastic. So more of a drama scene, where the love couple has a quarrel! lol
There might have been some violation of "traffic law" (Are you British or are you driving on the "correct" side?) and he might have wanted to tell you that he did not agree like you moved in his way and although not showing that he was sort of enraged he might have shown it passive-aggressively. Do you know the scene in Midnight Cowboy? "Hey i'm walking here." That might have been the implied message.
At least in Austria i think there can be a barely noticeable line between sincere serious friendliness, which would imho not use gnädige Frau (anymore... but not entirely impossible that others disagree and use it really sincerely), sincere friendliness that is presented in a joking manner and incorporating outdated language, which would use gnädige Frau (i want to believe that it was this one), neutral friendliness of (old) waiters, which would use gnädige Frau but also utter condescension, which might use gnädige Frau too.

May 18, 2018

What a single sentence can bring about! Regarding the new scene lines ( :D) and these possibilities, too bad there’s no way to find out his real intentions anymore. Unless I’ll get another chance to meet the gentleman again and discover otherwise I prefer to believe my first impression, I mean the good one! The input of experts on the German language (and script writers) is highly appreciated! :) Thank you for yours!

May 19, 2018
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