German phrase of the day: Bescheid sagen

Shannon Chaffers
Shannon Chaffers
German phrase of the day: Bescheid sagen
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

This handy German phrase is used often in everyday communication.


Why do I need to know it? 

It’s a quick and easy way to request that someone follow up with you, and vice versa. You’ll hear it all the time in spoken German, and text exchanges between friends and colleagues.

What does it mean?

Bescheid sagen, which sounds like this, can be a tricky phrase to understand when hearing it for the first time, but if you break it down, you’ll get a glimpse into the term’s meaning. Bescheid means “notification” or “answer” and sagen means “to tell”. Taken together, then, Bescheid sagen roughly translates as “to let someone know”.  


The origins of the phrase are unclear, but Bescheid itself comes from the verb bescheiden, which in old, bureaucratic German meant “to make a decision on someone else’s claim”. Bescheid as a noun emerged from this context to mean the written form of such a decision. For example, a Bussgeldbescheid is a notice of a fine.

When used in a sentence, Bescheid sagen is also accompanied by a pronoun to indicate the “someone” you are referring to. This pronoun will always be in the dative case. For example, you would say sag mir Bescheid to mean “let me know,” and sag ihm Bescheid to mean “let him know”.

But because you can usually infer who the person is based on the context, many people will often drop the pronoun and just ask you to, sag' Bescheid if they want you to keep them posted.

Beyond using the phrase as a request for updates, you can also use it in a declarative way, as in ich sage (dir/ihr/ihm) Bescheid.-  “I’ll let (you/her/him) know". 

You might also hear the phrase Bescheid geben used occasionally, as it has the same meaning as Bescheid sagen but is less common. If you want to say “let me know” in a more formal manner, try “lassen mich es wissen” or “teilen Sie mir mit”.

Use it like this: 

Sag (mir) Bescheid, wenn du fertig bist.

Let me know when you are done. 

Ich sage dir Bescheid, wenn ich Hilfe brauche.

I’ll let you know if I need help.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also