Expressing Frustration and Disbelief in German

Let’s look at phrases for expressing frustration and disbelief in German. Some of the expressions below are similar to English phrases, while others have a much harsher meaning than their literal translations. Take a look below, and also see our blog post on expressing enthusiasm in German.

Das kann nicht sein (literally “that cannot be”) is one German phrase for expressing frustration and disbelief. Accurate translations in this case would be “No way!” or “That’s not possible.” 

Aber das kann nicht sein. Wo ist Yara?

But that’s not possible. Where is Yara?

Das kann nicht sein!

In English, we also express disbelief with “You can’t be serious.” This has a few different translations in German that we previously covered in one of our newsletter lessons.  

Das meinst du nicht im Ernst.

You can’t be serious.

The phrase Das gibt’s doch gar nicht may literally translate as “that doesn’t exist,” but it has a similar meaning to Das kann nicht sein. Germans may use this and the expressions above when something both surprises and upsets them.

Was ist das denn? Das gibt’s doch gar nicht.

What is that then? That just can’t be the case.

And there’s also the phrase Was soll das?, which has a meaning similar to “What’s the meaning of this?” 

Was soll das? Du störst uns, Pettersson.

What’s the meaning of this? You are bothering us, Pettersson.

Das gibt’s doch gar nicht!

Expressing Annoyance

So, let’s now move on to expressions of annoyance. Jemanden ärgern can be translated as “to annoy someone,” as can jemanden nerven. In the sentence below with the adjectives ärgerlich and bescheuert, the words ja and doch are used for emphasis. 

Allerdings nervt es mich auch, dass ich die Einzige bin, die für das Essen bezahlt.

However, it also annoys me that I’m the only one who pays for the food.

Das ist ja wirklich ärgerlich!

This is really aggravating!

Ach, ist doch bescheuert.

Oh, that’s stupid.

Das ist ja ärgerlich!

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