Noch einmal — Danke schön!

word cloud

Noch einmal — Danke schön!

When I studied in Germany I had a friend who would always say “Danke schon” when the waiter or waitress brought him his cappuccino. I’d always wait till the server left and tell him, “Danke schön”, emphasizing the o with the umlaut.  His retort was always the same, “That’s what I said.”

As we grow older our ears become less attuned to certain variations in sound. Depending how many languages we know, speak and live in as well as if we play music some sound variations may blend together. Then there is also the issue of things just sounding similar, dialect, intonation, clarity and lest we forget spelling. All of these issues are part of the reason why many English speakers find the difference between schon/schön and noch/nach in German difficult.

Let’s take a look at these words and find out their pronunciation, meaning and usage.



[ʃoːn] HEAR



German Synonym:



Schon mit 5 Jahren komponierte Mozart sein erstes Musikstück.

  • Already at the age of 5, Mozart composed his first piece of music.

Bist du schon da? Ich dachte, du arbeitest heute länger.

  • You’re already here? I thought you were working later today.



[ʃøːn] HEAR


  1. aesthetically beautiful
  2. good, pleasant
  3. colloquial: strengthens the meaning of considerable/considerably
  4. Colloquial: used as an affirmative answer to a question
  5. Colloquial: used to express that something is as it schould be
  6. In certain expressions it has a mixed meaning between 1 & 2.

German Synonyms:

  1. anziehend, attraktiv, hübsch
  2. angenehm, gut
  3. besonders, beträchtlich, sehr
  4. ja, einverstanden, okay
  5. Ordnungsgemäß


Das Musikstück ist schön.

  • The piece of music is beautiful.

Das hat er schön gemacht.

  • He has done that very well.

Das wird eine schöne Stange Geld kosten.

  • That will cost a pretty penny.

Lass uns doch mal wieder ins Theater gehen. — Schön, dann gehen wir.

  • Let’s go to the theater again. — Yes, let’s go.

Schön aufpassen, wenn du über die Strasse gehst!

  • Pay careful attention, when you go to cross the street!



[nɔχ] HEAR


  1. a further
  2. in the immediate future
  3. up to now, at the moment, currently

German Synonyms:

  1. weiteren, zusätzlich, nochmal
  2. zukünftig
  3. gegenwärtig


Ein Termin wird nicht genügen, wir sollten noch einen vereinbaren.

  • One appointment won’t be enough, we should arrange a further one.

Möchten Sie noch ein Bier?

  • Would you like another beer?

Du musst dich noch umziehen, bevor wir ins Theater gehen.

  • You still need to change before we go to the theater.

Noch bin ich der Chef.

  • I’m still the boss.



[naːχ]: HEAR


  1. In the direction of, to, (for cities and countries without articles)
  2. for showing the target of an action in a sentence
  3. for showing the spacial or temporal relation (after)
  4. For quoting someone, something. (according to)

German Synonyms:

  1. hinter (behind)
  2. gemäß, laut


Ich muss nach Hause.

  • I have to go home.

Wir fliegen nach Tokio.

  • We’re flying to Tokyo.

Adam griff nach dem Apfel.

  • Adam reached for the apple.

Es ist Viertel nach sieben. (7:15).

  • It’s quarter past seven.

Nach der Haltestelle Kanonengasse kommt die Langstrasse.

  • After the stop Kononengasse is the Langstrasse.

Nach seinem Wunsch wurde auf der Feier nur Bordeaux serviert.

  • In accordance with his wish only Bordeaux was served at the party.

**Note. nach takes the dative case after it.

Now we see why we shouldn’t say “Danke schon” when the waiter or waitress brings us our cappuccino — “Thanks already” isn’t a very nice way to express your appreciation.

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