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West Germanic language
For a phrasebook specifically about the German dialect spoken in Switzerland, see Swiss-German phrasebook
German Speaking Areas.

German (Deutsch) is a Germanic language spoken by over 100 million people worldwide. It is the official and main language of Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It is also an official language of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium, and a national language in Namibia. German is also spoken by minorities in the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine, in the northern Italian province of South Tyrol, and in a small part of southern Denmark.

Standard German (Hochdeutsch, or High German) is also generally spoken by many as a second language in much of Central Europe, with small groups of native speakers as well due to the historical influence of Austria (the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Germany over the region. Small isolated communities can be found elsewhere in the world, though their language may be far from standard German and interspersed with loanwords from other languages.

DialectsEdit

 
A rough division of the dialects of the German language.

There are very strong accentual and dialectic differences in German-speaking countries. Despite forty years of East–West partition, virtually all important distinguishing marks between dialects scale from North to South rather than from East to West and isoglosses (lines separating different ways of saying the same word) are almost always aligned with parallels rather than meridians. A German from the north and one from the south of the country can have great difficulty understanding each other's dialects. A particularly striking mark of standard German and Southern dialects is the "High German consonant shift" that marks High German separate from all other Germanic languages, giving rise to words like "Apfel" (Appel in Low German, apple in English) "Pfirsich" (peach) "Kirche" (church), "machen" (maken in Low German, make in English) or "Kind" (child, pronounced with a hint of "ch" between the K and the i in the extreme South) that sound similar in Low German and all other Germanic languages but different in High German. Standard German, or Hochdeutsch, is universally known and taught, and although not everyone speaks it well it can be understood by most German speakers. Generally, the further south one travels, the broader the influence of dialect on standard speech, with the Main River as a rough "border" between the northern and southern German speaking cultural worlds. Switzerland, in particular, tends to use its own form of German, even in visual media and radio (newspapers mostly follow Swiss standard German, though). As a rule, one should not expect all people one encounters (especially in the rural areas) of Alsace, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Austria, South Tyrol and Switzerland to speak standard German well, but a dialect instead. In Alsace most people prefer to speak French with outsiders, and do NOT consider their dialect to be German as such! Dialect, where still spoken, is very much for family and home. People in Alsace are often reluctant to speak High German with Germans! They are often less put off speaking their dialect to someone from Switzerland or Baden, due to the fact they are pretty much mutually intelligible.

In the north of Germany, some people speak a related language called Plattdüütsch or Low German ("Plattdeutsch" in German). It is very closely related to Dutch and mainland Scandinavian languages. Nearly all Platt speakers also speak German.

The German spoken in Switzerland is referred to as Schwiizertüütsch (Swiss German). There are various varieties of Swiss German depending on the region and it is even widely used in the media, though news broadcasts are in standard German. Dialects are not usually used in the media in Germany, Austria or Liechtenstein except for regional programming. Thus, this is rare in the German speaking world, as "Hochdeutsch" is more or less the sole language of media outside Switzerland. Nevertheless, all German-speaking Swiss learn standard German in school, and usually write in standard German, so unless you approach somebody really old who has never been to school, you'll be fine with standard German. The German dialects spoken in Vorarlberg (Austria), Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Alsace (France) are related to Swiss German.

Swiss Standard German is not the same as Swiss German, but a variant of standard German used for writing and formal speech in Switzerland. It has a few spelling and vocabulary quirks, but is otherwise only recognizable as distinct from Austrian or German standard German to the trained eye. The ß is absent in both Swiss German and Swiss Standard German; being replaced with "ss".

Formal German in what was then East Germany also diverged in some points from West German, though never to the extent that Korean between the two Koreas diverged (North Korea and South Korea even use different terms for "Korea" in their official long form names) and many of the "East German" words fell out of use after reunification due to the thing they describe not existing or having been replaced by the Western counterpart. While dialects, particularly Saxon and Berlin-Brandenburgish still color East German speech, the GDR coinings are now mostly unused and unknown to the younger generation.

In the Italian South Tyrol, like in most of Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and southern Germany, most people speak a local dialect. However, standard German and Italian are both taught in the schools. The German spoken in South Tyrol is very similar to that of neighboring Austria and Bavaria to the north.

Pronunciation guideEdit

German pronunciation is relatively straightforward, although spelling is somewhat more involved.

VowelsEdit

vowel English equiv. vowel English equiv. vowel English equiv.
a like 'u' in "cup", 'a' in "target". In Austria, it sounds more like "au" in "Paul". e like 'e' in "ten", or 'e' in "emotion"; a schwa at the end of words with 2 or more syllables i like 'i' in "bingo"
o like 'oo' in "door", like 'o' in "mole" u like 'ou' in "you" ä transcribed as ae like 'e' in "ten"
ö transcribed as oe like 'i' in "Sir" (not a sound in English) ü transcribed as ue like 'ew' in "EWWW (disgust)" or the French 'u' in "tu" y same as 'ü', but also consonant "j" in words of foreign origin ("Yacht"), sometimes pronounced more akin to "i", in general "y" shows the most irregularities in pronunciation of all vowels

Length of VowelsEdit

A vowel is shortened when followed by a double consonant.

A vowel is lengthened by a subsequent 'h', or by a double vowel, depending on the word. An exception is 'i', which is lengthened by a following 'e' or 'eh'.

Examples: the h in Hahn makes the a long; the aa in Haar is also long, the e in Tier makes the i long. (See below for "Diphthongs".)

In the Austrian and Bavarian dialect, vowel pronunciations are slightly longer and more pronounced.

ConsonantsEdit

Consonants are pronounced quite strongly (except perhaps the 'r').

Consonant English equiv. Consonant English equiv. Consonant English equiv.
b like 'b' in "bed" c like 'ts' in "bits" before 'i' and 'e'; like 'k' in "kid" otherwise "ck" usually shortens the vowel before d like 'd' in "dog"
f like 'ph' in "phone" g like 'g' in "go" h ; h : like 'h' in "help"
j like 'y' in "yoga" k like 'c' in "cat" l like 'l' in "love"
m like 'm' in "mother" n like 'n' in "nice" p like 'p' in "pig"
qu like "kv" in "kvetch" or "bank vault" or like "qu" in "quest". "Q" is always used with "u" in German. r like 'r' in "arm". Terminal 'r' are almost silent but with the hit of an 'r' sound. 'R' beginning a word or syllable is pronounced from the back of the throat, almost as in French. In southern Germany (Bavaria), Austria and Switzerland, the 'r' is rolled as in Spanish in all positions except the initial. s like 'z' in "haze"
v like 'f' in "father"; in some words like 'v' in "victory" w like 'v' in "victory", never like 'wh' in "whisky" x like 'cks' in "kicks"
z like 'ts' in "bits" ß transcribed as ss like 's' in "was" l like 'l' in "love"

Common diphthongs and other digraphsEdit

Note: these combinations are not always used as diphthongs. At syllable boundaries and sometimes even in a syllable, they are spoken as separate vowels (e.g. soebenzoh-AY-ben)

au 
like 'ow' in "how"
ae 
transcription for 'ä' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
ah 
like 'a' in "bar", longer than 'a'.
äu 
like 'oy' in "boy"
ei 
like 'i' in "wine"
eu 
like 'oy' in "boy"
eh 
long 'e'
ie 
like 'ee' in "week", longer than 'i'.
ieh 
like 'ee' in "week", longer than 'i', fundamentally no difference to 'ie'.
oe 
transcription for 'ö' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
oh 
similar to "oo" in "floor"
ue 
transcription for 'ü' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
uh 
like 'ou' in "youth" (without any hint of the "y" sound), longer than 'u'.
ch after 'a', 'o' and 'u' 
like 'ch' in Scottish "loch", spoken in the throat, like 'j' in Spanish
ch after 'i', 'e' and consonants 
like 'h' in "huge" - many Germans do not perceive the two "ch" sounds to be different, but there is a difference between the "h" sound and the "ch" sound(s)
ch at the beginning of a word
like 'ch' in "character"; in the North it is often pronounced like "sh" (e.g. China is /keena/ in Bavaria and /sheena/ in Hamburg)
ck 
like 'ck' in "blocking"; though some words have a long vowel preceding the ck - e.g. Mecklenburg is properly pronounced with a long e
ng 
like 'ng' in "singing", never like 'ng' in "finger"
ph 
like 'f' in "fish"
sch 
like 'sh' in "sheep"
sp at the beginning of a word 
like 'shp' in "fish pool" ; in the extreme north: like sp in sports
ss 
like 'ss' in "sass"; in contrast to 'ß', makes the preceding vowel shorter. Also used as transcription for 'ß' in URL or on foreign keyboards.
st at the beginning of a word 
like 'sht' in "ashtray" ; in the extreme north like "st" in stand

GrammarEdit

Many languages in northern Europe belong to the Germanic language family, although German grammar itself retains many conjugations and declensions from proto-Germanic that have since been lost by other language relatives such as English.

Pronouns Singular Plural
1st Person ich (ih) wir (wir)
2nd Person du (du) (informal)
Sie (zee) (formal)
ihr (ir)
3rd Person
er (er) he
sie (zee) she
es (ez) it
sie (zee)
Pronouns Verb conjugation (suffix)
ich -e
du -st
er/sie/es -t
wir -en
ihr -t
Sie/sie -en

In common with many other European languages, German has two "you" verb forms which denote the relationship the speaker has to someone else. To express familiarity, one uses the du form; for formality, the Sie form. As a general rule the Sie form is used when one might address someone as "Madam" or "Sir". If on first name terms, one uses the du form. However, last name and "du" and first name and "Sie" are not entirely unheard of, especially in the context of certain professions. Unless the person you talk to allows you to use "du" (duzen), use "Sie" - Germans as a whole are more cautious with friendly terms of address than - say - Americans and some people still address each other with "Sie" despite 20 years or more of working in the same office.

German nouns are divided into 3 different genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The article of a noun depends on the gender: der (m), die (f) and das (n). Inanimate objects frequently have, often arbitrarily, genders assigned to them; for example, Tisch (table) is male, Tür (door) is female, while Tor (gate) is neuter. While the gender nouns denoting a person usually correspond to their natural gender (for example Mutter (mother) is female and Vater (father) is male), there are some exceptions. A grammatical rule that overrides this includes the diminutive -chen noun ending which will result in a neuter. (for example Mädchen (girl) is actually neuter, and not female as you'd expect).

Third-person pronouns also depend on the grammatical gender of the subject: er (m), sie (f) and es (n). However, you will generally be understood if you use the wrong gender as there are only a few (obscure) nouns which mean different things depending on gender, and their correct meaning will always be clear from the context.

Nominative article Akkusativ Dativ Genitiv
der (male) den dem des
die (female) die der der
das (neutral) das dem des
die (plural) die den der

Furthermore, German nouns are declined. There are four grammatical cases: nominative (subject), accusative (direct object), genitive (possessive), and dative (indirect object). Each varies depending on the noun's gender and whether it is singular or plural.

In an example,

Ich gebe dem Mann den Apfel der Frau.
"I give the man the woman's apple."

The Dativ article is invoked in the noun Mann to signify to whom I give the apple, while the Akkusativ article is invoked in the noun Apfel to signify what I am giving, and the genitive article is invoked in the noun Frau to signify whose apple I give.

In common speech, particularly in certain dialects, the cases - particularly the Genitiv - have a tendency to "disappear" or be rendered in ways that would be seen as "wrong" from the standpoint of prescriptivist linguistics. A particularly common phenomenon is replacing the Genitiv with Dativ and "sein" (in this case a possessive meaning "his" or "its") or "ihr" (a possessive meaning "her"). A famous work on the (supposed or real) decline of the German language has thus been titled "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod" - which could be rendered "The dative is the genitive his death" in English.

All nouns, alongside the word Sie for you, always begin with a capital letter, even in the middle of a sentence. This is an important way to distinguish between some verbs and objects. It also arguably makes reading easier, though writing is somewhat complicated by the need to find out whether a verb or adjective is used in a substantivized form.

Statement sentences generally follow the subject-verb-object structure alongside many other rules which are similar to English. Present tense and present continuous however, are not differentiated by default; one must add the word gerade or jetzt to specifically indicate that the action is happening now.

Ich esse (nicht) den roten Apfel
"I am (not) eating the red apple."

In question sentences, the structure would typically be (question word)-verb-subject-noun.

Was essen Sie?
What are you eating?
Essen Sie den roten Apfel?
Are you eating the red apple?

Addressing peopleEdit

By default, addressing adult strangers and superiors require Sie, unless they explicitly use du when talking to you. The latter is commonly reserved for close friends, children and family members, and people of younger age.

Herr (pl., Herren)
for men (equivalent to Mister in English). Note that this word also means "master, owner, ruler, gentleman, sir" and is also a form of address for the Christian God (English equivalent: Lord).
Frau (pl., Frauen)
for women (equivalent to Ms. and Mrs. in English). Note that this word also means "woman" and "wife."
Dame (pl. Damen) (DAH-men, NOT deim)
the polite German word for women/female. The salutation "Ladies and Gentlemen" would be translated to "meine Damen und Herren".

The term Fräulein which literally means Miss in English, is now deprecated and even considered condescending.

As Germans are particularly fond of their academic degrees, a Schmidt with a doctoral degree or as a doctor would be called Herr Doctor Schmidt. While this usage is more common in writing a letter than speaking, it is expected in a meeting with someone of a superior position if they introduce themselves or are introduced as such.

Phrase listEdit

The following phrases are for Standard German, and will generally be well understood across the German-speaking world. A local variation of words (such as those limited to Austria or specific regions of Germany) are indicated where necessary. See the Swiss-German phrasebook for the local variety spoken in Switzerland.

BasicsEdit

Common signs


OPEN 
Offen, Geöffnet
CLOSED 
Geschlossen
ENTRANCE 
Eingang
EXIT 
Ausgang
PUSH 
Drücken
PULL 
Ziehen
TOILET 
WC, Toilette(n)
MEN 
Herren, Männer
WOMEN 
Damen, Frauen
FORBIDDEN 
Verboten

The right way to say yes


You say Ja when you confirm an affirmative question:

Essen Sie gern Wurst? 
Do you like eating sausages?
Ja, ich esse gern Wurst. 
Yes, I like eating sausages.

If you wish to contradict a negative question, the reply is Doch:

Essen Sie nicht gern Wurst? 
Don't you like eating sausages?
Doch, ich esse gern Wurst. 
Yes, I like eating sausages.

The latter question, unfortunately, perennially confuses English speakers as there are no specific rules of saying yes to a negative question.

Good day (formal) 
Guten Tag. (GOO-ten tahk)
Hello (informal) 
Hallo
NOTE: In Northern Germany, locals greet each other with Moin, Moin (MOH-een MOH-een). In Bavaria and Austria, they use Servus (SERH-vus) or Grüß Gott (GRUESS goth). In Switzerland, they use Grüezi (GRUEH-tjee).
How are you? (informal)
Wie geht's? (vee GATES?) used as a real question, not a form of greeting.
How are you? (formal)
Wie geht es Ihnen? ("Vee gate s eenen?)
Fine, thank you. 
Gut, danke. (goot, DAN-keh)
What is your name? (formal) 
Wie heißen Sie? (vee HIGH-sun zee?)
What is your name? (informal) 
Wie heißt du? (vee HIGHST doo?)
My name is ______ . 
Ich heiße ______ . (eesh HIGH-suh)
Nice to meet you. (formal) 
Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen. (net zee KEN-en tsoo LER-nen)
Nice to meet you. (informal) 
Nett, dich kennen zu lernen. (net deesh KEN-en tsoo LER-nen)
Please. 
Bitte. (BEE-tuh)
Thank you. 
Danke schön. (DAN-kuh shurn)
Thanks. 
Danke. (DAN-kuh)
You're welcome. 
Bitte schön! (BEE-tuh shurn)
Yes. 
Ja. (yah)
No. 
Nein. (nine)
Excuse me. (getting attention
Entschuldigen Sie. (ent-SHOOL-dee-gun zee)
Excuse me. (begging pardon
Entschuldigung. (ent-SHOOL-dee-goong)
I'm sorry. 
Es tut mir leid. (es toot meer lite)
Lit: It feels sorry to me.
Goodbye 
Auf Wiedersehen. (owf VEE-dur-zane)
Goodbye (informal)
Tschüss (CHUS)
I can't speak German (well). 
Ich kann nicht [so gut] Deutsch sprechen. (eesh kahn nikht [zo goot] doytsh shprekhen) better: Ich spreche kein Deutsch (eesh spreh-khuh kine doitsh)
Do you speak English? (formal) 
Sprechen Sie Englisch? (shprekhun zee ENG-leesh)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Gibt es hier jemanden, der Englisch spricht? (geept es heer yeh-MAHN-dun dare ENG-leesh shprikht)
Help! 
Hilfe! (HEEL-fuh)
Good morning. 
Guten Morgen. (GOO-tun MOR-gun)
Good evening. 
Guten Abend. (GOO-tun AH-bunt)
Good night. 
Schönen Abend noch. (shur-nun AH-bunt nokh)
Good night (to sleep
Gute Nacht. (GOO-tuh nakht)
I don't understand. 
Ich verstehe das nicht. (eesh fur-SHTAY-uh dahs nikht)
Where is the toilet, please? 
Wo ist die Toilette, bitte? (voh eest dee twah-LET-uh BEE-tuh)
With pleasure. 
Gerne (GERR-nuh)
Do you know where ... is?. (formal) 
Wissen Sie, wo ... ist? (VEE-sun zee voh ... eest)

ProblemsEdit

 
In Germany, look for the red A symbol for a pharmacy.
Leave me alone. 
Lass / Lassen Sie mich in Ruhe . (LAHS(-un zee) meesh een ROO-uh)
Don't touch me! 
Fass / Fassen Sie mich nicht an! (FAHS(-un zee) meesh neekt AHN!)
I'll call the police. 
Ich rufe die Polizei. (eesh ROO-fuh dee poh-lee-TSIGH)
Police! 
Polizei! (poh-lee-TSIGH!)
Stop! Thief! 
Halt! Ein Dieb! (HAHLT! ighn DEEB!)
I need your help. 
Ich brauche deine/Ihre Hilfe. (eesh BROW-khuh DIGH-nuh/EE-ruh HEEL-fuh)
It's an emergency. 
Das ist ein Notfall. (dahs eest ighn NOHT-fahl)
I'm lost. 
Ich habe mich verirrt. (eesh HAH-buh meesh fer-EERT)
I lost my bag. 
Ich habe meine Tasche verloren. (eesh HAH-buh migh-nuh TAH-shuh fer-LOH-run)
I lost my wallet. 
Ich habe mein Portemonnaie verloren. (outdated) (eesh HAH-buh mighn port-moh-NEH fer-LOH-run)
Note: Portemonnaie is of French origin, but usual in German. The pronunciation follows the French one, though a dialectal tinge is not unheard of.
better: Ich habe meinen Geldbeutel verloren. (eesh HAH-buh mighn geh-ld-boy-tehl fer-LOH-run)
better in Austria: Ich habe meine Geldtasche verloren. (eesh HAH-buh miney geh-ld-ta-chee fer-LOH-run)
I'm sick. 
Ich bin krank. (eesh been krahnk)
I've been injured. 
Ich bin verletzt. (eesh been fer-LETST)
I need a doctor. 
Ich brauche einen Arzt. (eesh BROW-khuh IGH-nuh ARTST)
Can I use your phone? 
Kann ich dein/Ihr Telefon benutzen? (kahn eesh dighn/eer tay-lay-FOHN buh-NOOT-sun?)
Can I use your mobile? 
Kann ich dein/Ihr Handy benutzen? (kahn eesh dighn/eer handy buh-NOOT-sun?)

At the doctorEdit

Body parts


The following is formatted with singular and where possible, plural forms. Plural words always use the die article.

Hands 
die Hand (HAAND), Hände (HAEND-de)
Arms 
der Arm (AHRM), Arme (AHRM-me)
Fingers 
der Finger (FING-ger), plural form same as singular
Shoulder 
die Schulter (SHOOL-ter), Schultern (SCHOOL-tern)
Feet 
der Fuß (FOOSS), Füße (FUESSE)
Toes 
der Zeh (TSEH), Zehe (TSEH-he)
Legs 
das Bein (BAIN), Beine (BAIN-ne)
Nails 
Fingernagel (FING-ger-NAH-gel)
Body 
der Körper (KOUR-per)
Eyes 
das Auge (AUH-ge), Augen (AUH-gen)
Ears 
das Ohr (OOR) or Ohren (OO-ren)
Nose 
die Nase (NAH-se)
Face 
das Gesicht (ge-SIKHT)
Head 
der Kopf (KOPF)
Doctor 
(m) Arzt (ARTST), (f) Arztin (ARTS-tin)
Nurse 
Krankenschwester (KRAHNK-ken-shwe-ster)
Hospital
Krankenhaus (KRAHNK-ken-haus)
Medicine
Medizin (ME-di-tsin)
Emergency room (ER)/Accident and Emergency (A&E)
Notaufnahme (NOT-auf-nah-me)
Pharmacy/drugstore/chemists
Apotheke (Ah-po-TE-ke)
I am sick. 
Ich bin krank (eekh BEEN krahnk)
I am hurt. 
Ich bin verletzt. (eesh been fer-LETST)
I feel cold/hot 
Mir ist heiß/kalt (MEER ist HAISS/KALT)
NOTE: Lit: To me is hot/cold. Simply saying Ich bin heiß/kalt means you are a hot or cold person in personality.
My _____ hurts
Mein(e) ____ tut weh. (MAYN(ne) ____ toot weh)
Painful 
schmerzlich (SHMERts-lih)
Sick/uncomfortable 
Krank (KRAHNK)
Itchy/ticklish 
juckend (YUK-end)
Swollen 
geschwollen (ge-SHWOL-len)
Sore 
wund (WOOND)
Bleeding 
blutend (BLOO-tend)
Dizzy 
schwindelig (SHUIN-de-lig)
Swallowed 
verschlucken (ver-SCHLUK-ken)
Fever 
Fieber (FEE-ber)
Cough 
husten (HOOS-ten)
Sneeze 
niesen (NEE-sen)
Diarrhea 
Durchfall (DOO-eekh-fall)
Vomiting 
brechen (BREKH-hen)
Cold/flu 
Grippe (GREEP-pe)
Cut/wound
Wunde (WOON-de)
Burn
Brandwunde (BRAND-woon-de)
Bone fracture
Knochenbruch (K'NO-khen-brookh)

NumbersEdit

 
Know how much to pay when shopping.

In German, the roles of dot and comma are swapped compared to their English counterparts. The grouping separator in big numbers is a dot (.), not a comma(,); the separator between decimal fractions and integer is a comma (,), not a dot (.).

Numbers above twenty are said "backwards". Twenty-one (einundzwanzig) is literally spoken as "one-and-twenty". This takes a bit of getting used to, especially in higher regions. Eg. 53,426 (dreiundfünfzigtausendvierhundertsechsundzwanzig) is spoken as "three-and-fifty-thousand-four-hundred-six-and-twenty". Native English speakers may note that the nursery rhyme 'Four and twenty blackbirds' as well as some older literature (Sherlock Holmes for example) uses this convention from medieval English.

null (null)
eins (  ighnss)
zwei (tsvigh)
drei (drigh – sounds like the English word dry)
vier (fear – sounds like the English word fear)
fünf (fuunf)
sechs (zekhs)
sieben (ZEE-ben)
acht (ahkht)
neun (noyn)
10 
zehn (tsayn)
11 
elf (elf)
12 
zwölf (tsvoolf)
13 
dreizehn (DRIGH-tsayn)
14 
vierzehn (FEER-tsayn)
15 
fünfzehn (FUUNF-tsayn)
16 
sechzehn (ZEKH-tsayn)
17 
siebzehn (ZEEP-tsayn)
18 
achtzehn (AHKH-tsayn)
19 
neunzehn (NOYN-tsayn)
20 
zwanzig (TSVAHN-tsig)
21 
einundzwanzig (IGHN-oont-tsvahn-tsig)
22 
zweiundzwanzig (TSVIGH-oont-tsvahn-tsig)
23 
dreiundzwanzig (DRIGH-oont-tsvahn-tsig)
30 
dreißig (DRIGH-sig)
40 
vierzig (FEER-tsig)
50 
fünfzig (FUUNF-tsig)
60 
sechzig (ZEKH-tsig)
70 
siebzig (ZEEP-tsig)
80 
achtzig (AHKH-tsig)
90 
neunzig (NOYN-tsig)
100 
(ein)hundert ([ighn]-HOON-dert)
121 
(ein)hunderteinundzwanzig ([ighn]-HOON-dert-IGHN-oont-tsvahn-tsig
200 
zweihundert (TSVIGH-hoon-dert)
300 
dreihundert (DRIGH-hoon-dert)
1000 
(ein)tausend ([ighn]-TOW-zent)
2000 
zweitausend (TSVIGH-tow-zent)
1,000,000 
eine Million (igh-nuh mill-YOHN)
1,000,000,000 
eine Milliarde (igh-nuh mill-YAR-duh)
Note the difference to English numbers, often mistranslated!
1,000,000,000,000 
eine Billion (igh-nuh bill-YOHN)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.
Nummer/Linie _____ (NOO-mer/LEE-nee-uh)
half 
halb (hahlp)
the half 
die Hälfte (dee HELF-tuh)
less 
weniger (VAY-nihg-er)
more 
mehr (mayr)

Ordinal NumbersEdit

Notation for ordinal numbers are the number followed by a period and then the noun. All numbers from 1 to 19 use the suffix -te.

1. 
erste (ayr-sta)
2. 
zweite (tsvigh-ta)
3. 
dritte (dri-ta)
4. 
vierte (feer-ta)
5. 
fünfte (fuunf-ta)
10.
zehnte (TSAYN-ta)
11 
elfte (ELF-ta)
20. 
zwanzigste (TSVAHN-tsikhs-ta)

All numbers above 19 end with -ste; numbers that end with 01 to 19 will still use the aforementioned rule.

TimeEdit

now 
jetzt (yetst)
later 
später (SHPET-er)
before 
vor (for)
morning 
Morgen (MOR-gen)
in the morning 
morgens (MOR-genss)
tomorrow morning 
morgen früh (MOR-gen FRUU)
afternoon 
Nachmittag (NAHKH-mit-tahk)
in the afternoon 
nachmittags (NAHKH-mit-tahks)
evening 
Abend (AH-bent)
in the evening 
abends (AH-bents)
night 
Nacht (nahkht)
in the night 
nachts (nahkhts)

Clock timeEdit

 
Punctuality is of paramount importance in German-speaking countries!

In German speaking countries as in many other European countries, it's usual to use a 24 hour clock, ranging from 0.00 to 24.00. Okay, 24.00 is actually the same as 0.00, but one day later. In conversation however, a 12-hour format is also commonly used, as long as one understands the context of which time of day it is.

one o'clock AM (01:00)
ein Uhr (IGHN oor)
two o'clock AM (02:00)
zwei Uhr (TSVIGH oor)
noon (12:00)
zwölf Uhr or Mittag (TSVOOLF oor or MIT-tahk)
one o'clock PM (13:00)
dreizehn Uhr (DRIGH-tsayn oor)
two o'clock PM (14:00)
vierzehn Uhr (FEER-tsayn oor)
midnight (00:00 or 24:00)
Mitternacht or null Uhr or vierundzwanzig Uhr (MIT-er-nahkht or NOOL oor or FEER-oont-TSVAHN-tsikh oor)

Expressing "fractional hours" differs slightly among various regions. The "normal" way of doing it is:

  • Quarter past one (01:15) - Viertel nach eins or Viertel zwei
  • Half past one (01:30) - Halb zwei (half two)
  • A quarter to two (01:45) - Viertel vor zwei or Dreiviertel zwei

The latter form is common in Eastern Germany, Bavaria, and Austria, although the former is universally understood but not without causing cringes. Outside these regions, many have trouble understanding the latter form. Usually Germans who don't understand you will ask and saying the number (11:45 "elf Uhr fünfundvierzig") is sure to get the confusion out of the way, though it may sound somewhat stilted and bureaucratic.

To ask for time:

What time is it?
Wie spät ist es? (Wee SPAET ist es?) or Wie viel Uhr ist es? (Wee VEEL Ur ist es?)

DurationEdit

_____ minute(s) 
_____ Minute(n) (mih-NOO-tuh [mih-NOO-ten])
_____ hour(s) 
_____ Stunde(n) (SHTOON-duh [SHTOON-den)
_____ day(s) 
_____ Tag(e) (TAHK [TAH-guh])
_____ week(s) 
_____ Woche(n) (VOKH-uh [VOKH-en])
_____ month(s) 
_____ Monat(e) (MOH-naht [moh-NAH-tuh])
_____ year(s) 
_____ Jahr(e) (YAHR[-uh])
in _____ 
Im Jahr _____ (im YAHR _____) (also: _____ (the year without any further qualifiers)) Sometimes the old dative ending is used making it "im Jahre..." which sounds somewhat antiquated and quaint

DaysEdit

today 
heute (HOY-tuh)
the day before yesterday 
vorgestern (FOR-gess-tern)
yesterday 
gestern (GESS-tern)
tomorrow 
morgen (MOR-gen)
the day after tomorrow 
übermorgen (uuber-MOR-gen)
this week 
diese Woche (DEE-zuh VOH-khuh)
last week 
letzte Woche (LETS-tuh VOH-khuh)
the week before last week 
vorletzte Woche (for-LETS-tuh VOH-khuh)
next week 
nächste Woche (NEX-tuh VOH-khuh)
the week after next week 
übernächste Woche (uuber-NEX-tuh VOH-khuh)

The week is considered starting on Monday in Germany.

Monday 
Montag (MON-tahk)
Tuesday 
Dienstag (DEENS-tahk)
Wednesday 
Mittwoch (MIT-vokh)
Thursday 
Donnerstag (DON-ers-tahk)
Friday 
Freitag (FRIGH-tahk)
Saturday 
Samstag (ZAMS-tahk), in some regions, especially the North, "Sonnabend" (ZON-ah-bent)
Sunday 
Sonntag (ZON-tahk)

MonthsEdit

 
Parish Church of St. Martin (Filialkirche hl. Martin) in Möderndorf, Carinthia, Austria, with 2,119-meter Spitzegel in the distance
January 
Januar (YAH-noo-ahr), in Austria "Jänner" (YEH-nna)
February 
Februar (FAY-broo-ahr.), in Austria "Feber" (FAY-ber)
March 
März (mehrts)
April 
April (ah-PRILL)
May 
Mai (migh)
June 
Juni (YOO-nee)
July 
Juli (YOO-lee)
August 
August (ow-GOOST)
September 
September (zep-TEM-ber)
October 
Oktober (ok-TOH-ber)
November 
November (noh-VEM-ber)
December 
Dezember (day-TSEM-ber)

Time and Date FormatEdit

In the clock time, hours and minutes are separated by a '.' instead of ':', though the latter is also widely used. Another way is to write the minutes raised like an exponent.

The date is always written in the order day, month, year, e.g.: 12/10/2003 is in German 10.12.2003. 10th of December 2003 is in German 10. Dezember 2003.

Years prior to 2000 are pronounced like this example: 1957 neunzehn-hundert-sieben-und-fünfzig (the - are only here for clarity, it would be written as one word, when written down, a literal translation would be nineteen-hundred-seven-and-fifty) So far years after 2000 are pronounced like this example: 2014 zwei-tausend-vierzehn (again, written as one word, a literal translation would be two-thousand-fourteen)

Dates are always read like an ordinal number. When it stands alone, add the suffix -r at the ordinal number; Germans will also often mention the months in numbers (i.e. 1st of January= erster erster or der erste erste). When the date is used as part of a sentence (e.g. We fly on the 1st of May), a dativ case is invoked, in which you must add the suffix -n after the ordinal number (i.e. Wir fliegen am ersten Mai).

ColorsEdit

black 
schwarz (shvahrts)
white 
weiß (vice) - as in "miami vice"
gray 
grau (grou) - rhymes with "cow"
red 
rot (roht)
blue 
blau (blou) - rhymes with "cow"
yellow 
gelb (gelp)
green 
grün (gruun)
orange 
orange (oh-RAHNGSH)
purple
purpurrot (PURR-purr-rhot), violett (veeo-lett) or lila (LEE-lah)
pink 
rosa (ROH-zah) or rosarot (ROH-zah-roht)
brown 
braun (brown)
silver 
silber (zsil-bur)
gold 
gold (gold)
light - 
hell- (hell) as in hellblau
dark - 
dunkel- (dune-kel) as in dunkelblau

TransportationEdit

Bus and TrainEdit

 
Pay attention to the signboards for which platform your train is departing from.
How much is a ticket to _____? (bus, train) 
Was kostet eine Fahrkarte nach _____? (vass KOSS-tet igh-nuh FAHR-kahr-tuh nahkh _____?)
How much is a ticket to _____? (airplane) 
Was kostet ein Ticket nach _____? (vass KOSS-tet ighn TICK-et nahkh _____?)
One ticket to _____, please. (bus, train) 
Bitte eine Fahrkarte nach _____. (BIT-tuh IGH-nuh FAHR-kahr-tuh nahkh _____)
One ticket to _____, please. (airplane) 
Bitte ein Ticket nach _____. (BIT-tuh ighn TICK-et nahkh _____)
Where does this train/bus go? 
Wohin fährt dieser Zug/Bus? (voh-hin FEHRT dee-zer TSOOK/BOOSS?)
Where is the train/bus to _____? 
Wo ist der Zug/Bus nach _____? (VOH ist dayr TSOOK/BOOSS nahkh _____?)
Does this train/bus stop in/at _____? 
Hält dieser Zug/Bus in/bei_____? (helt DEE-zer TSOOK/BOOSS in/by _____?)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? 
Wann fährt der Zug/Bus nach _____ ab? (VAHN FEHRT der tsook/booss nahkh _____ ap?)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 
Wann kommt dieser Zug/Bus in _____ an? (vahn KOMT dee-zer TSOOK/BOOSS in _____ ahn?)
On which platform is the bus/train to _____ departing from? 
Auf welcher Gleis fährt der Zug/Bus nach _____ ab? (auf VEL-kher GLAIS fehrt der tsook/booss nahkh _____ ap?)

DirectionsEdit

How do I get to _____ ? (cities) 
Wie komme ich nach _____ ? (vee KOM-muh ikh nahkh _____?)
How do I get to _____ ? (places, streets) 
Wie komme ich zum/zur _____ ? (vee KOM-muh ikh tsoom/tsoor _____?)
...the train station? 
...zum Bahnhof? (tsoom BAHN-hohf?)
...the bus station / bus stop? 
...zum Busbahnhof / zur Bushaltestelle? (tsoom BOOSS-BAHN-hohf/tsoor BOOSS-hahl-tuh-shteh-luh?)
...the airport? 
...zum Flughafen? (tsoom FLOOG-hah-fen?)
...downtown? 
...zur Stadtmitte? (tsoor SHTUT-mit-tuh)
...the youth hostel? 
...zur Jugendherberge? (tsoor YOO-gent-hayr-bayr-guh)
...the _____ hotel? 
...zum _____ Hotel? (tsoom _____ hoh-TELL)
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? 
...zum amerikanischen/kanadischen/australischen/britischen Konsulat? (tsoom ah-mayr-ih-KAHN-ish-en/kah-NAH-dish-en/ous-TRAH-lish-en/BRIT-ish-en kon-zoo-LAHT?)
Where are there a lot of... 
Wo gibt es viele... (?) (VOU gipt ess FEE-luh...)
...hotels? 
...Hotels? (hoh-TELLSS)
...restaurants? 
...Restaurants? (rest-oh-RAHNTS?)
...Bars?
(bahrss?)
...bars? (pub)
...Kneipen? (KNIGH-pen?) (pronounce the K)
...sites to see? 
...Sehenswürdigkeiten? (ZAY-ens-vuur-dikh-kigh-ten?)
Can you show me on the map? 
Kannst du/Können Sie mir das auf der Karte zeigen? (kahnst doo/KOON-en zee meer dahss ouf dayr KAHR-tuh TSIGH-gen?)
street, road 
Straße (SHTRAH-suh)
left 
links (links)
right 
rechts (rekhts)
Turn left. 
Links abbiegen. (LINKS AHP-bee-gen)
Turn right. 
Rechts abbiegen. (REKHTS AHP-bee-gen)
straight ahead 
geradeaus (guh-RAH-duh-OWSS)
towards the _____ 
Richtung _____ (RIKH-toong)
past the _____ 
nach dem(m)/der(f)/dem(n) _____ (nahkh daym/dayr/daym _____)
through the _____ 
durch den(m)/die(f)/das(n) _____ (DUIKH dayn/dee/dahss _____)
before the _____ 
vor dem(m)/der(f)/dem(n) _____ (for daym/dayr/daym _____)
Watch for the _____. 
Achte/Achten Sie auf den(m)/die(f)/das(n) _____. (AHKH-tuh/AHKH-ten zee ouf dayn/dee/dahss _____)
intersection 
Kreuzung (KROY-tsoong)
north 
Norden (NOR-den)
south 
Süden (ZUU-den)
east 
Osten (OST-en)
west 
Westen (VEST-en)
uphill 
bergauf (bayrk-OUF)
downhill 
bergab (bayrk-AHP)
opposite 
gegenüber (gay-gen-UEH-ber)
along 
entlang (ENT-lang)
Taxi!
(TAHK-see)
Take me to _____, please. 
Bitte bringen Sie mich zum/zur/nach _____. (BIT-tuh BRING-en zee mikh tsoom/tsoor/nahkh _____)
Note: Use 'zu(m,r)' for streets and places and 'nach' for cities and villages.
How much does it cost to get to _____? 
Wie viel kostet es bis zum/zur/nach _____? (vee feel KOSS-tet ess biss tsoom/tsoor/nahkh _____?)
Take me there, please. 
Bringen Sie mich bitte dahin. (BRING-en zee mikh BIT-tuh dah-HIN)

LodgingEdit

 
Yes, you can even stay in a castle!
Do you have any rooms available? 
Sind noch Zimmer frei? (ZINT nokh TSIM-mer FRIGH?)
How much is a room for one person/two people? 
Wie viel kostet ein Einzelzimmer/Doppelzimmer? (vee-feel KOSS-tet ighn IGHN-tsel-tsim-mer/DOP-pel-tsim-mer?)
Does the room come with... 
Hat das Zimmer... (HAHT dahss TSIM-mer...)
...bedsheets? 
...Bettlaken? (...BET-lahk-en?)
...a bathroom? (toilet)
...eine Toilette? (igh-nuh to-ah-LET-tuh?)
...a bathroom? (with cleaning facilities)
...ein Badezimmer? (igh-n BAH-duh-tsim-er?)
...a telephone? 
...ein Telefon? (ighn tell-eh-FOHN?)
...a TV? 
...einen Fernseher? (igh-nen FAYRN-zay-er?)
May I see the room first? 
Kann ich das Zimmer erstmal sehen? (kahn ikh dahs TSIM-mer ayrst-mahl ZAY-en?)
Do you have anything quieter? 
Haben Sie etwas Ruhigeres? (HAH-ben zee ET-vahs ROO-ig-er-ess?)
...bigger? 
...größeres? (GROO-ser-ess?)
...cheaper? 
...billigeres? (BILL-ig-er-ess?)
OK, I'll take it. 
OK, ich nehme es. (OH-kay, ikh NAY-muh ess)
I will stay for _____ night(s). 
Ich bleibe eine Nacht (_____ Nächte). (ihk BLIGH-buh IGH-nuh nahkht/_____ NEKH-tuh)
Note: The plural of 'Nacht' is 'Nächte' .
Can you suggest another hotel? 
Können Sie mir ein anderes Hotel empfehlen? (KOON-en zee meer ign AHN-der-ess ho-TELL emp-FAY-len?)

Note: It's not a good idea to say this, as it may be taken in an insulting manner. Try saying "Gibt es hier in der Nähe ein Reisebüro?" ("Is there a tourist agency nearby?") instead.

Do you have a safe? 
Haben Sie einen Safe? (HAH-ben zee IGH-nen SAYF?)
...lockers? 
...Schließfächer? (SHLEESS-fekh-er?)
Is breakfast/supper included? 
Ist Frühstück/Abendessen inklusive? (ist FRUU-shtuuk/AH-bent-ess-en in-kloo-ZEE-vuh?)
What time is breakfast/supper? 
Wann gibt es Frühstück/Abendessen? (VAHN gipt ess FRUU-shtuuk/AH-bent-ess-en?)
Please clean my room. 
Würden sie bitte mein Zimmer saubermachen? (VUUR-den zee BIT-tuh mign TSIM-mer ZOW-ber-MAHKH-en?)
Can you wake me at _____? 
Können Sie mich um _____ Uhr wecken? (KOON-en zee mikh oom _____ oor VECK-en?)
I would like to check out. 
Ich möchte auschecken. (ikh MOOKH-tuh ows-check-en)

MoneyEdit

Mind your Umlaut


One common mistake that non-native German speakers make, which is forgiveable yet embarrassing, is the difference between the pronunciations and writing of the vocal letters a, o, and u and its umlaut counterparts (ä, ö, and ü). Don't forget to write the umlaut where necessary, as a subtle difference changes the meaning by a lot! Here are a few common examples:

Düsseldorf vs. Dusseldorf 
the city in Germany vs. village of fools (Dussel is dumb/fool, dorf means village)
drücken vs. drucken 
to press/push vs. to print
schön vs. schon 
beautiful vs. already
schwül vs. schwul 
humid vs. gay
Vögel vs. Vogel 
birds vs. bird
fährt vs. fahrt (Noun : die Fahrt)
to drive (third person singular) vs. the ride/the journey/to drive (second person plural)
füttern vs. futtern 
to feed vs. to munch
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? 
Nehmen Sie US-Dollar/australische/kanadische Dollar an? (NAY-men zee OOH-ESS DOLL-ahr/ouss-TRAHL-ish-uh/kah-NAH-dish-uh DOLL-ahr?)
Do you accept British pounds? 
Nehmen Sie britische Pfund an? (NAY-men zee BRIT-ish-uh PFOOND?)
Do you accept credit cards? 
Kann ich mit Kreditkarte zahlen? (kahn ikh mit kray-DEET-kahr-tuh TSAH-len?)
Can you change money for me? 
Können Sie mir Geld wechseln? (KOON-en zee meer GELT WEKHS-eln?)
Where can I get money changed? 
Wo kann ich Geld wechseln? (voh kahn ikh GELT WEKHS-eln?)
Can you change a traveller's check for me? 
Kann ich hier Travellerschecks einlösen? (kahn ikh heer TREV-el-er-shecks IGHN-loo-zen?)
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? 
Wo kann ich Travellerschecks tauschen? (voh kahn ikh TREV-el-er-shecks TOW-shen?) (TOW rhymes with "cow")
What is the exchange rate? 
Wie ist der Wechselkurs? (vee ist dayr VEK-sel-koorss?)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? 
Wo ist ein Geldautomat? (voh ist ign GELT-ow-toh-maht?)

EatingEdit

 
No one has a more complex love affair over bread than Germans!

Edible adjectives

Salty 
salzig (ZAL-tsikh)
Sour 
sauer (ZAU-er)
Sweet 
süß (ZUESS)
Spicy 
scharf (SHARF)
Bitter 
bitter (BEET-ter)
Delicious 
lecker (LEK-ker) or köstlich (KOEST-likh)
Tasteless 
fade (FAH-deh) or geschmacklos (ge-SHMAK-los)
Cold 
kalt (KALT)
Cool 
kühl (KUEL)
Warm 
warm (WARM)
Hot (temperature) 
heiß (HAISS)
A table for one person/two people, please. 
Ein Tisch für eine Person/zwei Personen, bitte. (ighn TISH fuur IGHN-uh payr-ZOHN/TSVIGH payr-ZOHN-nen, BIT-tuh)
Can I have the meal as a takeaway?
Könnte ich das Essen mitnehmen? (KOUN-nte ikh das Es-sen mit-ne-men?)
Can I look at the menu, please? 
Ich hätte gerne die Speisekarte. (ikh HET-tuh GAYR-nuh dee SHPIGH-zuh-kahr-tuh)
Is there a house specialty? 
Gibt es eine Spezialität des Hauses? (gipt ess igh-nuh shpeh-tsyah-lee-TAYT dess HOW-zess?)
Is there a local specialty? 
Gibt es eine Spezialität aus dieser Gegend? (gipt ess igh-nuh shpeh-tsyah-lee-TAYT owss DEE-zer GAY-gent?)
I am (severely) allergic to milk/eggs/fish/shellfish/tree nuts/peanuts/wheat/soy.
Ich bin [stark] allergisch gegen Milch/Eier/Fisch/Schalentiere/Nüsse/Erdnüsse/Weizen/Soja. (ikh bin [shtark] al-LER-gish gay-gent)
I'm a vegetarian. 
(men) Ich bin Vegetarier. (ikh bin vay-gay-TAH-ree-er) (women) Ich bin Vegetarierin (vay-gay-TAH-ree-er-een)
I'm a vegan. 
(men) Ich bin Veganer. (ikh bin vay-GAHN-er) (women) Ich bin Veganerin (vay-GAHN-er-een)
I don't eat pork. 
Ich esse kein Schweinefleisch. (ikh ESS-uh kign SHVIGN-uh-flighsh)
I only eat kosher food. 
Ich esse nur koscher. (ikh ESS-uh noor KOH-sher)
Note: outside major cities and some explicitly kosher restaurants true kosher food is not available. If you are not particularly observant "halal", sometimes spelled "helal" is similar enough if you avoid mixing milk and meat.
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard
Könnten Sie es bitte nicht so fett machen? (KOON-ten zee ess BIT-tuh nikht zo fett MAHKH-en?)
fixed-price meal 
Tagesessen (TAHG-ess-ess-en) / Menü (meh-NUU)
Note: While "Tagesessen" should be used in pubs and taverns, "Menü" is the correct word in classic restaurants.
Without, e.g. I would like spaghetti without cheese 
Ich möchte die Spaghetti, ohne Käse (Ikh merkhte dee schpagetti, ohna kayze), "Ohne" being the key word here.
à la carte 
a la carte (ah lah KAHRT)
breakfast 
Frühstück (FRUU-shtuuk) | Switzerland: Zmorge (TSH-mor-geh) or Morgenässe (MOR-gen-aess-e)
lunch 
Mittagessen (mit-TAHK-ess-en) | Switzerland: Zmittag (TSH-mit-tag) or Mittagässe (mit-TAHK-aess-e)
tea (meal
Kaffee (kah-FAY)
supper 
Abendessen or Abendbrot (AH-bent-ess-en or AH-bent-broht) | Switzerland: Znacht (TSH-nakht) or Nachtässe (NAKHT-aess-e)
Note: "Abendbrot" is mainly used in rural areas. Most Germans, even the non-English speaking, understand dinner as well.
I would like _____. 
Ich möchte _____. (ikh MERKH-tuh)
I would like a dish containing ____ 
Ich möchte etwas mit ____ (ikh MOOKH-tuh ett-vahss mit _____)
Literally means "I want something with ____"
chicken 
Hähnchen (HAEN-chen) Austria: Händel (HAEN-del)
beef 
Rindfleisch (RINT-flighsh)
fish 
Fisch (fish)
ham 
Schinken (SHINK-en)
sausage 
Wurst (voorst)
pickled cabbage 
Sauerkraut (ZAU-er-kraut) (lit. sour cabbage)
cheese 
Käse (KAY-zuh)
eggs 
Eier (IGH-er)
salad 
Salat (zah-LAHT)
potatoes 
Kartoffeln (kar-TOH-phel'n) | Austria: Erdapfel (ERD-ah-phel)
asparagus 
Spargel (SHPAR-gel)
(fresh) vegetables 
(frisches) Gemüse ([FRISH-ess] guh-MUU-zuh)
tomato 
Tomate (to-MAH-te) | Austria: Paradaiser (pa-ra-da-IH-ser)
(fresh) fruit 
(frisches) Obst ([FRISH-ess] OWPST)
bread 
Brot (broht)
toast 
Toast (tohst)
rolls 
Brötchen (BRUHT-chen)
noodles 
Nudeln (NOO-deln)
rice 
Reis (raighss)
beans 
Bohnen (BOH-nen)
cake
Kuchen (KOO-khen)
May I have a glass of _____? 
Könnte ich ein Glas _____ haben? (KOON-tuh ikh ighn glahss _____ HAH-ben?)
May I have a cup of _____? 
Könnte ich eine Tasse _____ haben? (KOON-tuh ikh IGH-nuh TAH-suh _____ HAH-ben?)
May I have a bottle of _____? 
Könnte ich eine Flasche _____ haben? (KOON-tuh ikh IGH-nuh FLAH-shuh _____ HAH-ben?)
coffee 
Kaffee (kah-FAY)
tea (drink
Tee (tay)
juice 
Saft (zahft)
(bubbly) water 
Mineralwasser or Sprudel(-wasser) (mee-ne-RAHL-wah-ser or SHPROO-del-[wah-ser])
water (tap) 
Leitungswasser (LIGH-toongs-wah-ser)
Note: Tap water is quite uncommon in German restaurants.
beer 
Bier (beer)
Note: At least in Germany and Austria, you should say what kind of beer you want. There are: Export (EKS-port), known as 'Helles' (HELL-as) in Bavaria and as 'Lager' (LAH-ger) in Switzerland; Pils (pilss); Hefeweizen (HAY-fuh-vigh-tsen), known as 'Weißbier' (VIGHSS-beer) in Bavaria; dunkles Hefeweizen (DOONK-less HAY-fuh-vigh-tsen); Alt (ahlt) in the Düsseldorf region; Kölsch (koolsh) in Cologne and probably most of the rest of the Rhineland; Bockbier (BOCK-beer) sometimes in the South of Germany. If you only say beer, you will usually get a Pils.
red/white wine 
Rot-/Weiß-wein (ROHT-/VIGHSS-vighn)
May I have some _____? 
Kann ich etwas _____ haben? (kahn ikh ET-vahss _____ HAH-ben?)
salt 
Salz (zahlts)
black pepper 
Pfeffer (PFEF-er)
butter 
Butter (BOO-ter)
Excuse me, waiter! (getting attention of server
Entschuldigung! (ent-SHOOL-dih-goong)
I'm finished. 
Ich bin fertig. (ikh bin FAYR-tikh)
It was (not) delicious. 
Es war (nicht) lecker (ess vahr (neekh) LEK-ker) or Es schmeckt (nicht) (ess SHMEKT (neekh))
Please clear the plates. 
Würden Sie bitte abräumen? (VUUR-den zee BIT-tuh ahb-ROY-men?)
The check, please. 
Zahlen, bitte. (TSAH-len, BIT-tuh)

BarsEdit

 
Märzen at Oktoberfest, served in the traditional 1-litre Maß.
Do you serve alcohol? 
Haben Sie alkoholische Getränke? (HAH-ben zee ahl-koh-HOHL-ish-uh guh-TRENG-kuh?)
Is there table service? 
Kommt eine Bedienung zum Tisch? (kommt IGH-nuh buh-DEE-noong tsoom TISH?)
A beer/two beers, please. 
Ein Bier/zwei Bier, bitte. (ighn beer/tsvigh beer, BIT-tuh)
See note in previous section.
A glass of red/white wine, please. 
Ein Glas Rot-/Weißwein, bitte. (ighn glahss ROHT-/VIGHSS-vign, BIT-tuh)
A quarter/eighth of red wine, please. 
Ein Viertel/Achtel Rotwein, bitte. (ign FEER-tel/AHKH-tel ROHT-vign, BIT-tuh)
Note: It's usual to order wine by quarters or eighths (of a liter).
A little/big beer, please. 
Ein kleines/großes Bier, bitte. (ighn KLIGH-ness/GROH-sess beer, BIT-tuh)
Half a liter, please. (of beer) 
Eine Halbe, bitte. (IGH-nuh HAHL-buh, BIT-tuh)
Note: This probably won't be understood in the North of Germany.
A bottle, please. 
Eine Flasche, bitte. (IGH-nuh FLAH-shuh, BIT-tuh)
Rum and coke, please. 
Bitte eine Cola mit Rum. (BIT-tuh IGH-nuh KOH-lah mit ROOM)
Note: In German, the mixer comes first. In common parlance some drinks are just named after a list of their ingredients with the alcoholic part mentioned first (e.g. Wodka [red] Bull)
whiskey 
Whiskey (VIS-kee)
vodka 
Wodka (VOT-kah)
rum 
Rum (ROOM)
water 
Wasser (VAH-ser)
club soda 
Mineralwasser (Mee-ne-RAWL-vas-ser)
tonic water 
Tonicwater or simply Tonic
orange juice 
Orangensaft or simply O-Saft (oh-RAHN-gehn-zahft or OH-zahft)
Coke (soda
Cola (KOH-lah), though "coke" is understood and will get you the brand from Atlanta more likely than not
Do you have (any) bar snacks? 
Haben Sie (irgendwelche) Snacks? (HAH-ben zee EER-gent-VELL-khe SNEKS?)
One more, please. 
Noch einen(m)/eine(f)/eins(n), bitte. (nokh IGH-nen/IGH-nuh/IGHNS, BIT-tuh)
Another round, please. 
Noch eine Runde, bitte. (nokh IGH-nuh ROON-duh, BIT-tuh)
When is closing time? 
Wann schließen Sie? (vahn SHLEE-sen zee?)
Cheers! 
Prost! or Zum Wohl! (zoom wole)
Note: "Prost" comes from Latin "prosit" which can be translated as "may it be good/beneficial" and is still understood though somewhat antiquated

ShoppingEdit

 
A Christmas market in Jena, an annual staple for multiple German communities.

How to build a German compound noun

In a similar way as English, compound words that make a noun are also common in German. The difference however is that all these words are stacked into a single word (agglutinative). While initially anyone reading the word is guaranteed to freak out, breaking them one by one would then make sense. While only few words are useful for travelers and even for Germans themselves, cardinal numbers are the most commonly used examples. (e.g. 678429 : sechshundertachtundsiebzigtausendvierhundertneunundzwanzig).

If you wish to play with compounding words, here are a few examples:

Fahrtreppenbenutzungshinweise 
Escalator usage advice
Fußgängerübergang 
Pedestrian crossing
Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften 
Legal protection insurance companies.
Weihnachtskeksdosendeckelbeschriftungsfarbe 
The color of the labeling on the lid of the Christmas cookie box
Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft
Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services (a pre-war club in Vienna). It is well known as the longest German word ever at 80 letters, even though the organization's actual existence is disputed.

In addition to that, another few compound words may sound uncreative and nonsense for English speakers, yet ranging from amusing to sensible once one gives a little more thought. Here are a few examples that a traveler might often see:

Bettzeug 
Bedding or bed sheets (lit. bed thing)
Durchfall 
Diarrhea (lit. through fall)
Fernseher 
Television (lit. distant observer). "To watch TV" is simply translated to fernsehen.
Feuerzeug 
Cigarette lighter (lit. fire thing)
Flugzeug 
Airplane (lit. fly thing)
Handschuhe 
Gloves/mittens (lit. hand shoes)
Klobrille 
toilet seat (lit. toilet glasses)
Spiegelei 
Sunny-side-up or fried egg (lit. mirror egg)
Rathaus 
City hall (lit. advice or council house)
Regenschirm 
Umbrella (lit. rain shield)
Warteschlange 
Queue/Line (lit. waiting snake)
Zahnfleisch 
Gum (lit. tooth meat)

Yet there are also German words that cannot be directly translated into English:

Backpfeifengesicht 
Slappable face (lit. cheek whistle (slap) face)
Gemütlichkeit 
a feeling of coziness, contentedness, comfort and relaxation (the general English translation of coziness is only one part of the equation).
Kummerspeck 
Excess weight gained from comfort overeating (lit. sorrow bacon)
Ohrworm 
catchy tune (lit. ear worm) (this word is adopted into English)
Schadenfreude
Joy in another's sadness (lit. pity joy)
Wanderlust 
The desire to wander (this word is adopted into English). Also translated as Fernweh (lit. remote sore)
Verschlimmbessern 
to make something worse in an attempt of improving it
Do you have this in my size? 
Haben Sie das in meiner Größe? (HAH-ben zee dahs in MIGH-ner GROO-suh?)
How much is this? 
Was kostet das? (vahss KOSS-tet dahss?) or Wie viel kostet das? (vee FEEL koss-tet dahss)
That's too expensive. 
Das ist zu teuer. (dahss ist tsoo TOY-er)
Would you take _____? 
Würden Sie es für ___ verkaufen? (VUUR-den zee as fyr _____ vayr-COW-fan?)
expensive 
teuer (TOY-er)
cheap 
billig / günstig (BILL-ikh/GUUN-stikh) (Note: "Billig" also can mean "not good/low quality")
I (don't) like it.
Das gefällt mir (nicht). (Das ge-PHAELT meer nikth)
Lit: It is (not) pleasing to me.
I can't afford it. 
Ich kann es mir nicht leisten. (ikh kahn ess meer nikth LIGH-sten)
I don't want it. 
Ich will es nicht. (ikh vill ess nikht)
I know that this is not the regular price. 
Ich weiß, dass das nicht der normale Preis ist. (ikh vighss, dahss dahss nikht dayr nor-MAH-luh PRIGHSS ist)
You're cheating me. 
Sie wollen mich abzocken. (zee VOLL-en mikh AHP-tsock-en)
Note: Actually, the translation would be: Sie betrügen mich. But that sounds too hard. The word abzocken is a rather familiar use of language.
I'm not interested. 
Ich habe kein Interesse. (ikh hah-buh kighn in-ter-ES-se)
OK, I'll take it. 
OK, ich nehme es. (oh-kay, ikh NAY-muh ess)
Can I have a bag? 
Kann ich eine Tüte haben? (kahn ikh IGH-nuh TUU-tuh HAH-ben?)
Do you ship (overseas)? 
Versenden Sie auch (nach Übersee)? (fayr-ZEN-den zee owkh [nahkh UU-ber-zay]?)
I need... 
Ich brauche... (ikh BROW-khuh...) (BROW rhymes with cow)
...toothpaste. 
...Zahnpaste. (TSAHN-pahs-teh)
...a toothbrush. 
...eine Zahnbürste. (IGH-nuh TSAHN-buur-stuh)
...tampons. 
...Tampons. (TAHM-pohns)
...soap. 
...Seife. (ZIGH-fuh)
...shampoo. 
...Shampoo. (SHAHM-poo)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
...Schmerzmittel. (SHMAYRTS-mit-tel)
Note: You will get medicine in pharmacies ("Apotheke" , with big red A-Sign) only, not in normal drugstores
...cold medicine. 
...etwas gegen Erkältung. (ET-vahs GAY-gen ayr-KELT-oong)
...stomach medicine. 
....Magentabletten (MAH-gen-tah-BLET-ten)
...a razor. 
...einen Rasierer. (IGH-nen rah-ZEER-er)
...a razor (blade)
...eine Rasierklinge. (IGH-ne rah-ZEER-kling-uh)
...an umbrella. 
...einen Regenschirm. (IGH-nen RAY-gen-sheerm)
...sunblock lotion. 
...Sonnencreme. (ZON-nen-kraym)
...a postcard. 
...eine Postkarte. (IGH-nuh POST-kahr-tuh)
...postage stamps. 
...Briefmarken. (BREEF-mahr-ken)
...batteries. 
...Batterien. (baht-uh-REE-en)
...writing paper. 
...Schreibpapier. (SHRIGHP-pah-peer)
...a pen. 
...einen Stift. (igh-nen SHTIFT)
...English-language books. 
...englischsprachige Bücher. (ENG-lish-shprahkh-ig-uh BUUKH-er)
...English-language magazines. 
...englischsprachige Zeitschriften. (ENG-lish-shprahkh-ig-uh TSIGHT-shrift-en)
...an English-language newspaper. 
...eine englischsprachige Zeitung. (IGH-nuh ENG-lish-shprahkh-ig-uh TSIGH-toong)
...an English-German dictionary. 
...ein Englisch-Deutsch-Wörterbuch. (ighn ENG-lish-DOYTCH woor-ter-bookh)

DrivingEdit

 
The general speed limit across Germany. Outside the Autobahn, strictly do not exceed the speed limits as indicated with a red circle; in the Autobahn, the blue square indicates advisory speed - driving beyond the speed will cause you liability in case of an accident.
I want to rent a car. 
Ich möchte ein Auto mieten. (ikh MOOKH-tuh ighn OW-toh mee-ten)
Can I get insurance? 
Kann ich es versichern lassen? (kahn ikh es fayr-ZIKH-ern LAH-sen?)
stop (on a street sign
stop (SHTOP)
one way 
Einbahnstraße (IGHN-bahn-shtrah-suh)
yield 
Vorfahrt gewähren (FOR-fahrt guh-VEHR-ren)
freeway
Autobahn (AU-toh-ban)
exit (on highway) 
Ausfahrt (OWS-fahrt)
no parking 
Parkverbot (PAHRK-fayr-boht)
speed limit 
Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkung (guh-SHVIN-dikh-kights-buh-SHRENG-koong) (a compound noun made from "Geschwindigkeit" = speed and "Beschränkung" = limit)
gas (petrol) station 
Tankstelle (TAHNK-shtel-luh)
petrol 
Benzin (ben-TSEEN)
unleaded petrol
Benzin bleifrei (ben-TSEEN bly-FRY)
diesel 
Diesel (DEE-zel)
toll 
Maut (MOWT)

AuthorityEdit

Most police officers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will speak functional English. Even if you have some capability in German, you may still want to stick to English just in case you make a mistake.

I haven't done anything. 
Ich habe nichts getan. (eesh HAH-buh nikhts guh-TAHN)
It was a misunderstanding. 
Das war ein Missverständnis. (dahs vahr ighn MEES-fayr-shtand-nees)
Where are you taking me? 
Wohin bringen Sie mich? (VOH-hin BRING-uhn zee meekh?)
Am I under arrest? 
Bin ich verhaftet? (been eekh fayr-HAHF-tut?)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. 
Ich bin amerikanischer/australischer/britischer/kanadischer Staatsbürger. (eekh been ah-may-ree-KAH-neesh-er / owss-TRAH-leesh-er / BREET-eesh-er / kah-NAH-deesh-er SHTAHTS-buur-gurr) or, if female, amerikanische/australische/britische/kanadische Staatsbürgerin (ah-may-ree-KAH-neesh-uh / owss-TRAH-leesh-uh / BREET-eesh-uh / kah-NAH-deesh-uh SHTAHTS-buur-gurr-een))
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. 
Ich will mit der/dem amerikanischen/australischen/britischen/kanadischen Botschaft/Konsulat sprechen. (eekh veel meet dayr/dame ah-may-ree-KAHn-eesh-uhn / ows-TRAH-leesh-uhn / BREE-teesh-uhn / kah-NAH-deesh-uhn BOHT-shahft / kohn-zoo-LAHT SHPREKH-uhn)
I want to talk to a lawyer. 
Ich will mit einem Anwalt sprechen. (eekh veel meet IGH-nem AHN-vahlt SHPREKH-uhn)
Can I just pay a fine now? 
Kann ich jetzt einfach eine Strafe zahlen? (kahn eekh yetst IGHN-fakh igh-nuh SHTRAH-fe TSAH-len?)
Note: Be sure that it is clear from the context that you aren't offering a bribe. Trying to bribe an official will get you into real trouble.

Country and territory namesEdit

Names of countries in general retain their official name or equivalent to English words, with subtle adaptations suitable for German speakers. Some countries, but not all, that end with -a are adapted into -en (e.g.: Egypt to Ägypten, India to Indien, Romania to Romänien), while some retain their names (e.g.: Malaysia, Nigeria, Panama). Some countries also take a definite article of either "der" (e.g.: der Irak, der Iran, der Lebanon) or "die" in singular (e.g.: die Schweiz, die Ukraine, die Türkei, die Mongolei, die Slowakei, all countries ending with -ei, countries containing the name Republik) or plural form (e.g.: die Niederlande, die USA, die VAE (the UAE), all countries of islands that end with the letter -s in English).

Countries with significant spelling and pronunciation differences compared to English are listed below.

In general there has been a tendency since about the 1950s to move away from "germanized" pronunciations and spellings towards more Anglophone or more akin to the local name ones. A somewhat dicey subject are German names for formerly German places (e.g. Wroclaw) which will be understood but might be seen as a revanchist statement by some. Similarly in some country names the c used to be replaced with a k but isn't any more (e.g. "Nikaragua" is hardly used any more) whereas for "Mexiko" and "Kolumbien" the k form is standard.

For indicating the nationality of a person, add the suffix -er at the end or replacing the -en suffix if the country has the suffix. Leave it as it is for male or add -in for female.

Germany
Deutschland(DOIT-ch-land)
France
Frankreich (FRANK-raikh)
Czech Republic
Tschechische Republik (CHE-his-che REh-puh-blik) you may also hear the short form "Tschechien"
Cote dIvore
Elfenbeinküste however a citizen of said country is an "Ivorer"
Switzerland
die Schweiz (di shu-WAITS)
Austria
Österreich (OEST-ter-raikh)
The UK
Vereinigtes Königreich (ver-REIN-ni-tes KOE-nig-raikh)
Great Britain
Großbritannien (GROSS-bree-TAN-ni-en)
Hungary
Ungarn (UNG-garn)
Greece
Griechenland (GREE-khen-land)
Cyprus
Zypern (TSEE-pern)
Norway
Norwegen (nor-WÉH-en)
Estonia
Estland (Ést-land)
Latvia
Lettland (LETT-land)
Lithuania
Litauen (LI-tau-en)
Belarus
Weißrussland (WAISS-russ-land)
Russia
Russland (RUSS-land)
Moldova
Republik Moldau (MOL-daw) or Moldawien
Turkey
die Türkei (di TUER-kai)
Azerbaijan
Aserbaidschan (ah-ser-bai-JAN)
Maldives
Malediven (MA-lé-DI-ven)
China
China (KHEE-nah) pronounced with a "hard k" in the south and "sh" in the north.
Japan
Japan (YAH-pan)
New Zealand
Neuseeland (NOY-see-land)
Fiji
Fidschi (FID-shi)
Morocco
Marokko (MA-rok-ko)
Djibouti
Dschibuti (ji-BU-ti)
USA
Vereinigte Staaten (ver-RAIN-ni-te STA-ah-ten) or die USA (dee UH-ES-AH) in colloquial parlance a citizen of the U.S. will often be called "Ami" for either gender
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