How to Say “You’re Bad” in German: A Comprehensive Guide

Giving feedback or expressing disappointment in someone’s performance is never an easy task. However, learning how to say “You’re bad” in German can be helpful when you need to communicate your thoughts directly. In this guide, we will explore both formal and informal ways to express this sentiment, with tips, examples, and regional variations (if necessary).

Formal Ways to Say “You’re Bad” in German

When addressing someone formally, like a stranger, superiors, or elderly individuals, it’s important to maintain a respectful tone. Here are a few options:

1. “Sie sind schlecht.”

This translates directly to “You are bad” in English. It is a simple and straightforward way to express your opinion. However, it’s important to be cautious as this can come across as harsh or impolite.

Example: Entschuldigen Sie, aber Ihre Arbeit ist leider schlecht. (Excuse me, but your work is unfortunately bad.)

2. “Ihre Leistung lässt zu wünschen übrig.”

This phrase is a more indirect way to convey dissatisfaction with someone’s performance. Its translation is roughly “Your performance leaves something to be desired.” Though less direct, it still effectively communicates the message in a formal manner.

Example: Ihre Leistung bei diesem Projekt lässt zu wünschen übrig. (Your performance on this project leaves something to be desired.)

Informal Ways to Say “You’re Bad” in German

When speaking to friends, colleagues, or younger individuals, you can use more casual expressions to convey your disappointment. Here are some examples:

1. “Du bist schlecht.”

This simple phrase directly translates to “You are bad.” It is informal and can be used among friends or peers, but remember to consider the context and your relationship with the person before using it.

Example: Du bist schlecht in Mathe, aber ich kann dir helfen. (You are bad at math, but I can help you.)

2. “Du machst es schlecht.”

By saying “You’re doing it bad,” you convey the idea that the person is performing poorly in a specific task or activity without directly attacking their overall ability. It allows for constructive criticism within an informal setting.

Example: Du machst es schlecht beim Klavierspielen. (You’re doing it bad when playing the piano.)

Regional Variations

German dialects vary across regions, and some phrases may have slightly different connotations or may not be commonly used in certain areas. However, the phrases mentioned above are widely understood across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It’s always helpful to learn and adapt to local expressions when possible, especially in informal settings.

Useful Tips for Communicating your Thoughts

When expressing disappointment or criticism, it’s important to promote understanding and maintain a warm tone. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Use “Ich-Botschaften” (I-messages)

Using “Ich-Botschaften” is a more diplomatic way to convey your disappointment. Instead of making personal attacks, focus on how you feel about the situation. This helps to avoid sounding accusatory.

2. Choose the Right Time and Place

Pick an appropriate moment to discuss someone’s performance. Finding a private and calm environment allows for a more constructive conversation, preventing unnecessary embarrassment or hostility.

3. Offer Constructive Feedback

Instead of solely focusing on the negative aspects, offer suggestions for improvement. Constructive feedback shows that you genuinely care about the person’s development and success.

4. Be Mindful of Non-Verbal Communication

Remember that your non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can influence the perceived tone of your message. Pay attention to your own reactions and try to maintain a calm and open demeanor.


Learning how to express disappointment or say “You’re bad” in German can be valuable for various situations. By utilizing the formal or informal phrases provided in this guide, as well as considering regional variations if necessary, you can communicate your thoughts effectively. Remember to employ proper communication techniques such as using “Ich-Botschaften,” choosing the right time and place, offering constructive feedback, and being mindful of non-verbal communication. By doing so, you can maintain a warm and understanding tone while effectively conveying your message.

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