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German phrasebook

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German (Deutsch) is the official and main language of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It is also an official language of Belgium and Luxembourg and spoken as a regional language in Namibia. Furthermore, German (Standard German and/or dialect) is spoken in the French regions of Alsace (German: Elsass) and Lorraine (German: Lothringen), in the northern Italian province of South Tyrol (German: Südtirol, Italian: Alto Adige or Sudtirolo), and in a southern part of Denmark (South Jutland; German: Südschleswig). Standard German (Standarddeutsch) is also generally spoken by many as a second language in much of East and Central Europe. Small groups of native German speakers can be found in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. This is due to the historical influence of Austria - the former Austrian Empire, and Germany over the region in addition to the radical border changes put into place in Europe after WWI and WWII. Furthermore, small isolated communities can be found in Russia, the Central Asian Republics, Australia, South Africa and in North and South America.

Grammar & Dialects[edit]

German grammar retains many conjugations and declensions from proto-Germanic, which have been lost in English and other Germanic languages. This means that some aspects of it will be difficult to master, though speakers of Icelandic will find many elements of German grammar familiar.

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. Grammatically, the Sie form takes the 3rd person plural ending.

There are 3 different noun genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The article of a noun depends on the gender: der (m), die (f) and das (n). Unlike in English, inanimate objects frequently have a different gender than neuter assigned to them, often arbitrarily; for example, Tür (door) is female, while Tor (gate) is neuter. 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. People may correct you, however, in order to help you to learn German.

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.

An orthographic peculiarity is that all nouns, even those in the middle of a sentence, begin with a capital letter.

There are very strong accentual and dialectic differences in German-speaking countries. A German from the north, where the standard version of the language is most prevalent, may have a hard time understanding a southerner's pronunciation. Standard German is universally known and taught, although not everyone speaks it well. Generally, the further south one travels, the more people speak dialect natively. The Main River serves as a rough "border" between the northern and southern German speaking cultural worlds. In Switzerland, everyone speaks a dialect natively, and it's even often used in the media. Be advised that in rural areas of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Austria, South Tyrol and Switzerland, elders speak the language with a sing-songy accent or swallowing of vowels and consonants. In Alsace many might prefer to speak French with outsiders, mostly as a result of the stigmatisation of German after World War II (and regional languages in general) by the French government. This pattern is begging to reverse with a Alsatian culture revival movement underway! However, the majority of younger people do not use standard German as an everyday language at all and therefore rarely ever reaches native level fluency. It is, however, taught at school and sometimes kindergarten from an early age on. People from Switzerland or Baden could try speaking their dialect since they all belong to the Alemannic family.

Luxembourg is an interesting case where German serves an official language, is taught in the school system and thus nearly all Luxembourgers are fluent in German. However, the preferred language of everyday life there is more likely to be either Luxembourgish or French.

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. There are various varieties of Swiss German depending on the region and it is spoken natively by all Swiss-Germans, and widely used in the media (not news and printed formats, though). 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 "Standarddeutsch" is more or less the sole language of media outside Switzerland. Nevertheless, all German-speaking Swiss learn standard German in school, so unless approaching rural elders, you'll be fine with standard German. The German dialects spoken in Vorarlberg (Austria), Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Alsace (France) are Alemannic, as is Swiss German.

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 guide[edit]

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


like 'o' in "cop". In Austria, it sounds more like "au" in "Paul". Example in Hochdeutsch: Vater "FAH-ter" (father). The A is pronounced the same in the English and the German.
like 'e' in "ten", or 'e' in "emotion". Very often in the spoken language and in colloquial writing it tends to be replaced by an apostrophe when found in the middle of a word. For instance: Gewehr (rifle) becomes G'wehr; gesehen (to have seen) becomes g'seh'n.
like 'i' in "bingo", or 'i' in "hit". In southern dialects, especially in Austria, it tends to be pronounced like an "ee" in "seen". Example in Hochdeutsch: sitzen "ZITZ-en. (to sit). The I is pronounced the same in the English and the German.
like 'oo' in "door", like 'o' in "mole". Example in Hochdeutsch: Doppel (double).
like 'ou' in "you". Example in Hochdeutsch: Hut (hat). "HOOT".
(Umlaut, transcribed as 'ae') like 'e' in "ten", 'a' in "band". Example in Hochdeutsch: ältern (Parents) "EL tern".
(Umlaut, transcribed as 'oe') like 'ir' in "Sir" (not a sound in English). Example in Hochdeutsch: öl (oil). "earl" (like the name or title)
(Umlaut, transcribed as 'ue') like 'ew' in "EWWW (disgust)" Example in Hochdeutsch: Bücher (books). "BEW scher".
same as 'ü', but also consonant "j" in words of foreign origin ("Yacht") Example in Hochdeutsch: System (system) 'ZOO staim".

Umlauts are usually (albeit not always) stressed.

Length of Vowels[edit]

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".)


Consonants are pronounced quite strongly (except perhaps the 'r'). The articles are included because it's very important to learn them. You will need to know them later.

like 'b' in "bed". Example in Hochdeutsch: das Bett (bed). Same pronunciation in German and English.
like 'ts' in "bits" before 'i' and 'e'; like 'k' in "kid" elsewhere. Example in Hochdeutsch: Die Cola (soda pop or cola). Same pronunciation in German and English.
like 'd' in "dog". Example in Hochdeutsch: das Ding (the thing) "dass ding"
like 'ph' in "phone". Example in Hochdeutsch: das Telefon (telephone). "telephone". Same pronunciation in German and English.
like 'g' in "go" (never as in "giraffe"). Example in Hochdeutsch: die Gruppe (the group). "dee Grup eh"
like 'h' in "help". Example in Hochdeutsch: Hilfe (help). "HILL- feh".
like 'y' in "yoga". Example in Hochdeutsch: Jetzt (now) "YET-zt" like "yets" with a T on the end.
like 'c' in "cat". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Küche (the kitchen) "dee kewch eh".
like 'l' in "love". Example in Hochdeutsch: Liebe (love) "LEE beh"
like 'm' in "mother". Example in Hochdeutsch: Die Mutter (mother) "dee Moot ehr".
like 'n' in "nice". Example in Hochdeutsch: Nett (nice). "Net"
like 'p' in "pig". Example in Hochdeutsch: das papier (paper) "das pop eer".
like 'q' in "quest" (always with "u"). Example in Hochdeutsch: bequem (comfortable) "BEH qwaim".
like 'r' in "arm", like 'r' in "feather". This is not a sound we have in English. You have to kind of swallow the R in the back of your throat. Terminal Rs are almost silent but with the hit of an "r" sound. Rs beginning a word or syllable are pronounced from the back of the throat, almost as in French. In northern as well as southern Germany (Bavaria), Austria and in Switzerland, the "r" is rolled similar to as in Spanish in all positions except the initial. Example in Hochdeutsch: die Uhr (clock or watch. Also, the hour). "dee uhr".
like 'z' in "haze". Example in Hochdeutsch: Sehen (to see) "ZAY en".
like 't' in "top". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Tisch (the table) "dare Tish". Another example: Toll! (cool!)
like 'f' in "father", or like "v" in "victory". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Vater (father) "dare FAHT air".
like 'v' in "victory", never like 'wh' in "whisky". Examples in Hochdeutsch: Wie (how) "Vee"; wo (where) "voe"; was (what) "vass"
like 'cks' in "kicks". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Text (text). "text".
like 'ts' in "bits" Example in Hochdeutsch: Zehn (ten). "Zane"
like 's' in "was" Example in Hochdeutsch: Heißen (to be called). "HIGHS en".

Common diphthongs and other digraphs[edit]

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)

like 'ow' in "how". Example in Hochdeutsch: Blau (blue). "BL ow"
transcription for 'ä' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs. Example in Hochdeutsch: ältern or aeltern (parents). "eltern".
like 'a' in "bar", longer than 'a'. Example in Hochdeutsch: Fahren (to drive) "fahhr en".
like 'oy' in "boy". Example in Hochdeutsch: Bräunen (to tan) "BROY nen"
like 'i' in "wine". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Wein (wine) "dare Vine" Note: Words with "ei" and "ie": The second vowel is pronounced. For example Der DiEB "dare dEEb" (the thief) and das PapiEr "Pop EER" (paper); and der Wein - dare vIne
like 'oy' in "boy". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Deutscher (German man) "dare DOYT scher"; die Deutscherin {German woman) "dee DOYT scher in"
long 'e'. Example in Hochdeutsch: Sehen (to see). "ZAY en"
Same as 'ei', albeit seldom used. Mostly used in popular names like Dreyse and Steyr.
like 'ee' in "week", longer than 'i'. Example in Hochdeutsch: Der DieB (the thief) "dare dEEb"
like 'ee' in "week", longer than 'i', fundamentally no difference to 'ie'. Example in Hochdeutsch: Wienerschnitzel (Vienna sausage). "VEE ner shnit zel"
transcription for 'ö' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs. Example in Hochdeutsch: der Löffel (spoon) "dare LERF el"
like 'oo' in "food", longer than 'o'. Example in Hochdeutsch: Wohnen (to live) "Voe nen".
transcription for 'ü' if not available on a keyboard or in URLs
like 'ou' in "youth", longer than 'u'. Example in Hochdeutsch: der Stuhl (chair. This is where the word "Stool" comes from). "SHTOOL".
ch after 'a', 'o', 'u' and 'au' 
like 'ch' in Scottish "loch", spoken in the throat, like 'j' in Spanish. English doesn't have this sound. Example in Hochdeutsch: Machen (to do or to make) "machhh en".
ch after 'e', 'ä', 'i', 'ei', 'eu', 'äu', 'ü' and 'ö', or after a consonant 
like 'h' in "huge". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Eidechse (lizard) "dee EYE dechk seh"
ch at the beginning of a word
like 'ch' in "character". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Chemie (chemistry) "dee CHHEMee".
like 'ck' in "blocking". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Brücke (the bridge) "dee BROOK eh"
like both 'ng' in "singing", never like 'ng' in "finger". Example in Hochdeutsch: der Finger (finger) "FING err"
like 'f' in "fish". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Phase (phase) "FAZ eh"
like 'sh' in "sheep". Example in Hochdeutsch: Schnitten (to cut) "shnit ten"
sp at the beginning of a word 
like 'shp' in "fish pool". Example in Hochdeutsch: Sprechen (to speak) "shprek en"
like 's' in "ship", in contrast to 'ß', makes the preceding vowel shorter. Also used as transcription for 'ß' in URL or on foreign keyboards. Example in Hochdeutsch: ein bisschen (a little) "ine BISS shen"
st at the beginning of a word 
like 'sht' in "ashtray". Example in Hochdeutsch: die Strasse (street) "Shtrass eh".

Phrase list[edit]

The following phrases are for Standard German, and will generally be well understood across the German-speaking world. See the Swiss-German phrasebook for the local variety spoken in Switzerland or the Austrian-German phrasebook for the variety spoken in Austria.


Common signs

Offen, Geöffnet
WC, Toilette(n)
Herren, Männer
Damen, Frauen

Good day (formal)
Guten Tag. (GOO-ten tahk)
Good day (informal)
How are you? (used as a real question, not a form of greeting.)
Wie geht's? (vee GATES?)
Fine, thank you. 
Gut, danke. (goot, DAN-keh)
What is your name? (formal
Wie heißen Sie? (vee HIGH-sun zee?). This is actually "What are you called?". In German, they don't really say "What is your name?", which is "Was ist Ihre Name?" (WAS ist eehr-eh nam-eh?"
What is your name? (informal
Wie heißt du? (vee HIGHST doo?) Again, this translates to literally "How are you called?"
My name is ______ . 
Ich heiße ______ . (eesh HIGH-suh) This literally translates to "I am called ____." To say "My name is ______", one says "Meine Name ist _______." ("mine-eh nam-eh ist ____") But the Germans really don't say that.
Nice to meet you. (formal) 
Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen. (net zee KEN-en tsoo LER-nen). This is "Nice to know you." This doesn't translate in English; it's literally "Nice to learn to know you". "Nice to meet you" is "Nett Sie zu treffen". But that's very formal and a bit stiff. "Treffen" is actually "to meet". "Kennen" is "to know", and "Lernen" is "to learn".
Nice to meet you. (informal) 
Nett, dich kennen zu lernen. (net deesh KEN-en tsoo LER-nen)
Bitte. (BEE-tuh)
Thank you. 
Danke schön. (DAN-kuh shurn)
Danke. (DAN-kuh)
You're welcome. 
Bitte schön! (BEE-tuh shurn) You can also say Gerne! ("Gayr neh") which is a shortened form of "Ich habe das gern" (I'm happy about this - "Isch hab-eh das gayrn". It doesn't really translate because English doesn't have a direct equivalent).
Ja. (yah)
Nein. (nine)
Excuse me.
: 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)
I'm.glad about that. 
Das freut mich! (Das froit misch!" )
Auf Wiedersehen. (owf VEE-dur-zane)
I can't speak German (well). 
Ich kann nicht [so gut] Deutsch sprechen. (eesh kahn nikht [zo goot] doytsh shprekhen)
or, 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)
Hilfe! (HEEL-fuh)
or to be more specific to yourself, Hilf mir! (HEELF-meer)
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)


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 neekht AHN!)
I'll call the police. 
Ich rufe die Polizei. (eesh ROO-fuh dee poh-lee-TSIGH)
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.
better: Ich habe meinen Geldbeutel verloren. (eesh HAH-buh mighn geh-ld-boy-tehl 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?)


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 (.).

E.g.: 1,000 in English is 1.000 in German; 3.14159 in English is 3,14159 in German.

Note that 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. 53426 (dreiundfünfzigtausendvierhundertsechsundzwanzig) is spoken as "three-and-fifty-thousand-four-hundred-six-and-twenty".

null (noll)
eins (ighnss)
zwei (tsvigh)
drei (drigh)
vier (feer)
fünf (fuunf)
sechs (zekhs)
sieben (ZEE-ben)
acht (ahkht)
neun (noyn)
zehn (tsayn)
elf (elf)
zwölf (tsvoolf)
dreizehn (DRIGH-tsayn)
vierzehn (FEER-tsayn)
fünfzehn (FUUNF-tsayn)
sechzehn (ZEKH-tsayn)
siebzehn (ZEEP-tsayn)
achtzehn (AHKH-tsayn)
neunzehn (NOYN-tsayn)
zwanzig (TSVAHN-tsikh)
einundzwanzig (IGHN-oont-tsvahn-tsikh)
zweiundzwanzig (TSVIGH-oont-tsvahn-tsikh)
dreiundzwanzig (DRIGH-oont-tsvahn-tsikh)
dreißig (DRIGH-sikh)
vierzig (FEER-tsikh)
fünfzig (FUUNF-tsikh)
sechzig (ZEKH-tsikh)
siebzig (ZEEP-tsikh)
achtzig (AHKH-tsikh)
neunzig (NOYN-tsikh)
(ein)hundert ([ighn]-HOON-dert)
zweihundert (TSVIGH-hoon-dert)
dreihundert (DRIGH-hoon-dert)
(ein)tausend ([ighn]-TOW-zent)
zweitausend (TSVIGH-tow-zent)
eine Million (igh-nuh mill-YOHN)
eine Milliarde (igh-nuh mill-YAR-duh)
Note the difference to American English numbers, often mistranslated!
eine Billion (igh-nuh bill-YOHN)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.
Nummer/Linie _____ (NOO-mer/LEE-nee-uh)
halb (hahlp)
the half 
die Hälfte (dee HELF-tuh)
weniger (VAY-nihg-er)
mehr (mayr)

Ordinal Numbers[edit]

erste (ayr-stayr)
zweite (tsvigh-tayr)
dritte (dri-tayr)
vierte (feer-tayr)
fünfte (fuunf-tayr)
zwanzigste (TSVAHN-tsikhs-tayr)
(ein)hundertste ([ighn]-HOON-dert-stayr)
(ein)hunderterste ([ighn]-HOON-dert-ayr-stayr)


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

Clock time[edit]

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.

one o'clock AM 
ein Uhr (IGHN oor)
two o'clock AM 
zwei Uhr (TSVIGH oor)
zwölf Uhr (TSVOOLF oor)
or Mittag (MIT-tahk)
one o'clock PM 
dreizehn Uhr (DRIGH-tsayn oor)
two o'clock PM 
vierzehn Uhr (FEER-tsayn oor)
Mitternacht (MIT-er-nahkht)
or null Uhr (NOOL oor)
or vierundzwanzig Uhr (FEER-oont-TSVAHN-tsikh oor)

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

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


_____ 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 _____)


heute (HOY-tuh)
the day before yesterday 
vorgestern (FOR-gess-tern)
gestern (GESS-tern)
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.

Montag (MON-tahk)
Dienstag (DEENS-tahk)
Mittwoch (MIT-vokh)
Donnerstag (DON-ers-tahk)
Freitag (FRIGH-tahk)
Samstag (ZAMS-tahk), in some regions "Sonnabend" (ZON-ah-bent)
Sonntag (ZON-tahk)


Januar (YAH-noo-ahr), in Austria "Jänner" (YEH-nna)
Februar (FAY-broo-ahr.), in Austria "Feber" (FAY-ber)
März (mehrts)
April (ah-PRILL)
Mai (migh)
Juni (YOO-nee)
Juli (YOO-lee)
August (ow-GOOST)
September (zep-TEM-ber)
Oktober (ok-TOH-ber)
November (noh-VEM-ber)
Dezember (day-TSEM-ber)

Writing Time and Date[edit]

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

The date is always written in the order day, month, year, e.g.:

12/24/2003 is in German 24.12.2003. 24th of December 2003 is in German 24. Dezember 2003

Don't get confused about that, especially if you're an American!


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


Bus and Train[edit]

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?)


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?)
...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? (hoh-TELLSS)
...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)
links (links)
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 _____)
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 _____)
Kreuzung (KROY-tsoong)
Norden (NOR-den)
Süden (ZUU-den)
Osten (OST-en)
Westen (VEST-en)
bergauf (bayrk-OUF)
bergab (bayrk-AHP)

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)


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? 
Wieviel 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...)
...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? 
Darf 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?)
...größeres? (GROO-ser-ess?)
...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?)
...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)


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 ahn?)
Do you accept British pounds? 
Nehmen Sie britische Pfund an? (NAY-men zee BRIT-ish-uh PFOOND ahn?)
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?)


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 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'm a vegetarian. 
Ich bin Vegetarier. (ikh bin vay-gay-TAH-ree-er)
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)
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, eg. 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)
Frühstück (FRUU-shtuuk)
Mittagessen (mit-TAHK-ess-en)
tea (meal
Kaffee (kah-FAY)
Abendessen or Abendbrot (AH-bent-ess-en or AH-bent-broht)
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 ____"
Huhn (hoon)
Rindfleisch (RINT-flighsh)
Fisch (fish)
Schinken (SHINK-en)
sausage (Will also be heard as a way to say whatever
Wurst (voorst)
Käse (KAY-zuh)
Eier (IGH-er)
Salat (zah-LAHT)
(fresh) vegetables 
(frisches) Gemüse ([FRISH-ess] guh-MUU-zuh)
(fresh) fruit 
(frisches) Obst ([FRISH-ess] OWPST)
Brot (broht)
Toast (tohst)
Nudeln (NOO-deln)
Reis (righss)
Bohnen (BOH-nen)
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?)
Kaffee (kah-FAY)
tea (drink
Tee (tay)
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.
Bier (beer)
Note: At least in Germany and Austria, you better 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 other Rhineland; Bockbier (BOCK-beer) sometimes in the South of Germany. If you only say beer, you will get a Pils on most cases.
red/white wine 
Rot-/Weiß-wein (ROHT-/VIGHSS-vighn)
May I have some _____? 
Kann ich etwas _____ haben? (kahn ikh ET-vahss _____ HAH-ben?)
Salz (zahlts)
black pepper 
Pfeffer (PFEF-er)
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 delicious. 
Es war hervorragend. (ess vahr hayr-FOR-rah-gent)
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)


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.
Whiskey (VIS-kee)
Wodka (VOT-kah)
Rum (ROOM)
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)
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?)
Prost! or Zum Wohl! (zoom wole)


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?)
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?)
teuer (TOY-er)
billig / günstig (BILL-ikh/GUUN-stikh) (Note: "Billig" also can mean "not good/low quality")
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)
...Zahnpaste. (TSAHN-pahs-teh)
...a toothbrush. 
...eine Zahnbürste. (IGH-nuh TSAHN-buur-stuh)
...Tampons. (TAHM-pohns)
...Seife. (ZIGH-fuh)
...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) 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)
...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) English-language newspaper. 
...eine englischsprachige Zeitung. (IGH-nuh ENG-lish-shprahkh-ig-uh TSIGH-toong) English-German dictionary. 
...ein Englisch-Deutsch-Wörterbuch. (ighn ENG-lish-DOYTCH woor-ter-bookh)


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)
Vorfahrt gewähren (FOR-fahrt guh-VEHR-ren)
exit (on highway) 
Ausfahrt (OWS-fahrt)
no parking 
Parkverbot (PAHRK-fayr-boht)
speed limit 
Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkung (guh-SHVIN-dikh-kights-buh-SHRENG-koong)
gas (petrol) station 
Tankstelle (TAHNK-shtel-luh)
Benzin (ben-TSEEN)
unleaded petrol
Benzin bleifrei (ben-TSEEN bly-FRY)
Diesel (DEE-zel)
Maut (MOWT)


I haven't done anything wrong. 
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. (male
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)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. (female)
Ich bin amerikanische/australische/britische/kanadische Staatsbürgerin (eekh been 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.

Further links[edit]

English to German Dictionary

Practice German Online with Natives

Free German Exercises and Dialogues

German Phrases

This is a guide phrasebook. It covers all the major topics for traveling without resorting to English. But please Plunge forward and help us make it a star!