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German phrasebook

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Revision as of 15:15, 2 November 2003 by Hansm (talk | contribs) (some fixes and completitions)
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Like in many other european languages, there exist two conjugations of verbs in order to express the kind of relation the speaker has to somebody. If you are familar to someone, you use the du-form, if the relation is rather formal, use the Sie-form. As a rule of thumb, you can say, the Sie-form is used if you could imagine to say "Madam" or "Sir" to somebody. If you talk to somebody saying his first name, you use the du-form. In the phrasebook, the first form is du, the second Sie.

There are 3 different gramatical sexes for nous: feminin, masculin and neutrum. The article of a noun depend on the sex: die (f), der (m) and das (n).

Furthermore, the German language uses declinations of nouns. There exist four gramatical cases: nominativ, genitv, dativ and acusativ, each of them depends on the gramatical sex an wether it is singular or plural.

A German speciality is that all nouns, even in the middle of the sentence, begin with a capital letter.

There are very strong and different dialects in German speaking countries. A German from the north and an other one from the south would hardly understand each other if both were speaking their dialects. Of course, everybody understands the standard language, but not everybody is able to speak it properly. Generaly, the farer you come into the south, the harder it is to understand the dialect.

Along the coast line in the north, many people still speak plattdüütsch. Some claim it to be an own language, strongly related to Dutch an German.

The German spoken in the German part of Switzerland is called schwiezerdüütsch, and again, some regard it as an own language. Anyway, there exist different schwietzerdüütsch (sub-)dialects depending on the region.

Pronunciation Guide


German vowels are always spoken quite close (?) and with constantly intonation (in contrary to American English, where you tend to sing the words, i.e. "Oh, realy?").

I'm not sure if you can understand what I mean. :-(

like 'u' in "cup", 'a' in "target"
like 'e' in "ten", 'a' in "band", 'eh' in Dehli (often silent at the end of a word)
like 'ee' in "week", like 'i' in "bingo"
like 'oo' in "door", like 'o' in "top"
like 'ou' in "you"
like 'a' in "have"
like 'i' in "Sir"
similar to 'ui' in "juice"


like 'b' in "bed"
like 'ts' in "bits" after 'i' and 'e'; like 'k' in "kid" else
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'ph' in "phone"
like 'g' in "go"
like 'h' in "help"
like 'y' in "yoga"
like 'c' in "cat"
like 'l' in "love"
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "nice"
like 'p' in "pig"
like 'q' in "quest" (with "u", almost always)
like 'r' in "row", but not that rolling, 'r' in "arm", like 'r' in "feather" (often silent at end of word)
like 'ss' in "hiss", like 'z' in "haze"
like 't' in "top"
like 'v' in "victory" or like 'f' in "father"
like 'v' in "victory", never like 'wh' in "whisky"
like 'cks' in "kicks"
like 'y' in "yes", like 'y' in "Pythagoras"
like 'ss' in "hiss"

Common dipthongs

like 'ow' in "how"
transcription for 'ä' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
like 'a' in "bar"
like 'oy' in "boy"
like 'i' in "wine"
like 'oy' in "boy"
long 'e'
like 'ee' in "see"
like 'ee' in "see"
transcription for 'ö' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
like 'oo' in "door"
transcription for 'ü' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
like 'ou' in "youth"
ch after 'a', 'o' and 'u'
something like 'ch' in "mechanical", spoken in the throat, like 'j' in Spanish
ch after 'i' and 'e'
between 'ch' in "mechanical" and 'sh' in "sheep"
ch at the begining of a word
like 'ch' in "character"
like 'ck' in "blocking"
like both 'ng' in "singing", never like 'ng" in "finger"
like 'f' in "fish"
like 'sh' in "sheep"
sp at the begining of a word 
like 'shp' in "fish pool"
st at the begining of a word 
like 'sht' in "ashtray"

Phrase list


Hallo. (Hullo)
Hello. (informal
Hi. (HIGH)
How are you? 
Wie geht's? (Wee gaits?) NOTE: In Germany, this is rather understood as a real question, not as a form of greeting. So, better say 'Hallo' .
Fine, thank you. 
Danke, gut. (Dunke, goot)
What is your name? 
Wie heißt du? / Wie heißen Sie? (Vee hajsst doo? / Vee hajssen See?)
My name is ______ . 
Ich heiße ______ . (ISH hajsse _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
Sehr angenehm. (Sair unghenaim) NOTE: Rather in formal use of language.
Bitte. (Bitte)
Thank you. 
Danke. (Dunke)
You're welcome. 
Bitte. (Bitte)
Ja. (Yah)
Nein. (NINE)
Excuse me. (getting attention
Entschuldigung. (Antshooldigoong)
Excuse me. (begging pardon
Entschuldigung. (Antshooldigoong)
I'm sorry. 
Tut mir Leid. (Toot mir Lajd)
Auf Wiedersehen. (OWf Veedersaihen.)
Goodbye (informal
Tschüß. (CHUIs)
I can't speak German [well]. 
Ich kann nicht [so gut] deutsch. (ISH kun niSHt [so goot] doytsh)
Do you speak English? 
Sprichst du / Sprechen Sie englisch? (Shprishst doo / SHpreshen sEE ANG-lush?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Kann hier jemand englisch? (Kun here yemund anglish?)
Hilfe! (Hilfe!)
Good morning. 
Guten Morgen. (gooten Morghen)
Good evening. 
Guten Abend. (gooten aabend)
Good night. 
doesn't exist
Good night (to sleep
Gute Nacht. (goote NaCCHt)
I don't understand. 
Ich verstehe es nicht. (ISH fershtejhe es niSHt)
Where is the toilet? 
Wo ist die Toilete? (Wo ist dee toylette?)