A short video explaining the usage of “doch”.

Disagreeing with negative questions

When you answer a question negatively or positively, you use nein/no or ja/yes, whether inDeutsch or English.

In German, there is also a third one-word option – doch. It can be translated as “on the contrary”.

Take the example:

  • Hast du keine Lust? – Do you not feel like it?
  • (Ich habe keine Lust) – No, I don‘t
  • (Ich habe Lust) – Yes, I do
    • In German ja can also be interpreted as agreement with a negative question. So instead of meaning “Yes, I do feel like it” the other person may think that you’re saying “Yes, I don’t feel like it”. By using the word “doch” you’re clarifying that you are disagreeing with the negative question.
  • Doch! (Ich habe sehr wohl Lust!) – On the contrary, I sure feel like it!

Contradicting statements

If someone says

  • Das stimmt nicht! (That’s not right!)

You can contradict this with

  • Doch, das stimmt! (On the contrary, it is right!)

“Ja, es stimmt!” (Yes, it is right!) would sound wrong to German ears. “Doch” clearly means you disagree with the statement.

Doch as an adverb

“Doch” can mean “after all” or “all the same”, as in

Ich habe sie doch gesehen! – I did see her (after all)!

In commands

When using “doch” in commands, it softens an order, making it more of a suggestion.

  • “Gib mir doch deinen Schlüssel.“ – Why don’t you just give me your keys?

instead of

  • “Gib mir deinen Schlüssel” – Give me your keys!


As a particle, doch can also express surprise (Das war doch Maria! = That was actually Maria!), show doubt (Du hast doch meine Email bekommen? = You did get my email, didn’t you?), question (Wie war doch sein Name? = Just what was his name?) or be used in many idiomatic waysSollen Sie doch! = Then just go ahead (and do it)! With a little attention and effort, you’ll begin to notice the many ways that doch is used in German.

Understanding the uses of doch and the other particles in German will give you a much better command of the language.