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200+ Basic German Words for Beginners

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If you’ve just started learning German, you might be struggling to get past the beginner stage.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the Germanic umlauts on vowels (ä, ö, ü), or maybe that eszett letter (ß). Perhaps it’s the pace of spoken German that’s made you question your decision to start learning.

While there’s definitely truth to those concerns, worry not. There are several short and easy-to-learn words in German that can serve as a springboard while you become familiar with the language. 

Memorizing even a few basic German words for beginners will be enough of a stepping stone to help you eventually learn more. This is because many German words are composed of several shorter words that, when combined, have a unique meaning.

Take Kühlschrank, for example. This word is composed of Kühl- which means “cool,” and -schrank which translates to “cupboard.”

Combine the two and you get “cool cupboard,” which is a funny way to describe a refrigerator—the actual meaning of the word Kühlschrank.

Pretty relieving to know this, right? 

German isn’t that hard after all. The most difficult part is to summon up the courage to begin. 

That’s why we took the time to put together a categorized masterlist of the most essential words in German for beginners. 

Without further ado, let’s get right into it…

Booklets
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Others
  8. Conclusion

1. Pronouns

The first set of words you should add to your German vocabulary are pronouns. These are the words we use to refer to people, places, or things without actually using their names:

  • Susan ate the chocolate bar. = She ate the chocolate bar. 

Here, we’ll be covering three types of pronouns in German: personal, demonstrative, and interrogative. 

Personal Pronouns

We’ll start with personal pronouns, given their importance in sentences. These are crucial for almost any sentence, and we recommend you memorize them by heart before you start with any other words.

EnglishGerman 
Iich
youdu
heer
shesie
ites
wewir
you (plural)ihr
theysie
memich / mir
youdich / dir
himihm / ihn
herihr
usuns
themihnen

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are especially critical for indicating which objects or people you’re referring to in your dialogue. These four basic German words are important to master at the beginner stage.

EnglishGerman 
thisdieses 
thatdas 
thesediese
thosejene

Interrogative Pronouns / Question Words

Interrogative pronouns, or the “Five Ws,” are the words we use to ask questions. 

English German 
whower
whomwen / wem
whosewessen
whatwas
whichwelche

In a similar vein, there are a few interrogative adverbs you should learn at this stage as well: 

EnglishGerman
whenwann
wherewo
whywarum
howwie

2. Numbers

Multicolored Numbers

The numbers from one to ten in German are rather similar to those in English. Just like with most languages, learning the first ten digits will help you understand and easily learn the rest of the numbers.

NumbersEnglish German 
0zeronull
1oneeins
2twozwei
3threedrei
4fourvier
5fivefünf
6sixsechs
7sevensieben
8eight acht
9nineneun
10tenzehn

3. Nouns

Nouns are one of the most important parts of speech, so you should memorize as many of them in German as you can. When used with verbs, they create a complete sentence—in a pinch, you can even use them alone to get an urgent point across! Below, you’ll find lists of beginner German nouns you should focus on right away. 

Time

Wall Clock

Time is king, especially in a country like Germany where punctuality is paramount. Learning time-related vocabulary will come in handy in your day-to-day interactions.

EnglishGerman 
hour Stunde
minuteMinute
morningMorgen
afternoonNachmittag
eveningAbend
dayTag
monthMonat
yearJahr
MondayMontag
TuesdayDienstag
WednesdayMittwoch
ThursdayDonnerstag
FridayFreitag
SaturdaySamstag
SundaySonntag

People

These are the words you’d learn in the first lesson of probably any German beginner copybook. 

English German 
butcherMetzger (m.) / Metzgerin (f.)
woodmanHolzfäller (m.) / Holzfällerin (f.)
police officerPolizist (m.) / Polizistin (f.)
doctorArzt (m.) / Ärztin (f.)
nurseKrankenpfleger (m.) / Krankenschwester (f.) 
firefighterFeuerwehrmann (m.) / Feuerwehrfrau (f.)
teacherLehrer (m.) / Lehrerin (f.)
fatherVater
motherMutter
sisterSchwester
brotherBruder
Mr.Herr
Ms.Frau

Places Around Town

A Building in South Africa

If you’re traveling in Germany, whether in one town or around the country, these words will help you get by and even ask for directions.

English German 
hospitalKrankenhaus
supermarketSupermarkt
schoolSchule
downtownInnenstadt
universityUniversität
city hallRathaus
main squareHauptplatz
bankBank
museumMuseum
restaurantRestaurant
caféCafé
police stationPolizeistation
train stationBahnhof
bus stationBushaltestelle

School/Office Essentials

Man Shaking Hand in Office

If you have to study or work in Germany, these words will be helpful when you’re in class or at the office.

English German
penKugelschreiber
notebookNotizbuch
computerComputer
pencil caseFedermappe
headphonesKopfhörer
mouseMaus
keyboardTastatur
wifiWLAN
chargerLadegerät
cableKabel
backpackRucksack
deskSchreibtisch
copybookHeft

Body Parts

English German 
eyeAuge
noseNase
earOhr
faceGesicht
armArm
chestBrust
cheekWange
foreheadStirn
mouthMund
chinKinn
armpitAchselhöhle
abdomenBauch
legBein
toeZeh
fingerFinger
ankleKnöchel
hipHüfte
forearmUnterarm
elbowEllbogen
wristHandgelenk

Food

Germans are proud of their cuisine and German culture values eating healthy, fresh food rather than buying frozen or ready-to-eat meals. Here’s a list of words for your next grocery shopping spree.

EnglishGerman 
ٍٍvegetablesGemüse
fruitObst
meatFleisch
milkMilch
eggEi
coffeeKaffee
yogurtJoghurt
breadBrot
baconSpeck
pieKuchen
hamSchinken
chickenHuhn
juiceSaft
sausageWurst

4. Verbs

As a beginner in German, you’ll greatly benefit from picking up the most commonly used verbs. Learning them together with nouns will give you a headstart when it comes to forming sentences and communicating with others. 

Daily Routine Verbs

If you’re into daily journaling, doing that in German will require you to know a set of daily routine-related verbs. Here’s a list to get you started:

English German 
to get upaufstehen
to eatessen
to drinktrinken
to gogehen
to workarbeiten
to studystudieren
to drivefahren
to ridereiten
to sleepschlafen
to wake upaufwachen
to hanghängen
to do laundryWäsche machen
to napein Nickerchen machen
to work outtrainieren
to go outausgehen
to preparevorbereiten
to cookkochen
to clean putzen
to washwaschen
to tidy upaufräumen
to connectverbinden
to communicatekommunizieren
to weartragen
to warm upaufwärmen
to grabgreifen
to mixmischen
to holdhalten
to freezeeinfrieren
to changewechseln
to movebewegen

Other Common Verbs

English German 
to givegeben
to getbekommen
to dotun
to makemachen
to letlassen
to askfragen
to smilelächeln
to findfinden
to usebenutzen
to takenehmen
to comekommen
to lookschauen
to hearhören
to smellriechen
to talksprechen
to exitgehen
to callrufen 
to feelfühlen
to answerantworten
to laughlachen
to cryweinen
to stealstehlen
to runrennen
to walkgehen
to meettreffen
to createerschaffen
to finishbeenden

5. Adjectives

Using adjectives in your speech or writing can add a layer of meaning and help you better express yourself. To get you started, here are a few beginner German adjectives in different categories. 

Describing Objects

English German 
biggroß
smallklein
longlang
shortkurz
roundrund
rectangularrechteckig
smoothglatt
roughrau

Describing People

English German
prettyhübsch
handsomegutaussehend
tallgroß
short klein
disgustingekelhaft
sociablekontaktfreudig
funnylustig
beautifulschön
lovelylieblich
caringfürsorglich
selflessselbstlos
arrogantarrogant 
humblebescheiden
courageousmutig
weakschwach
strongstark
quirkyschrullig

Describing Emotions

Being able to describe our own emotions is critical for well-being and also helps us better understand others. Here’s a list of adjectives for describing emotions:

EnglishGerman 
happyglücklich
sadtraurig
joyfulfreudig
angrysauer
depresseddepressiv
anxiousängstlich
stressed outgestresst
jollyfröhlich

Describing Weather

English German 
rainyregnerisch
wetnass
humidfeucht
drytrocken
ariddürr
coolkühl
frigidkalt
foggyneblig
windywindig
stormystürmisch
breezyluftig
windlesswindstill
calmruhig

6. Conjunctions

English German 
and und
butaber
thendann
becauseweil
soso / also

7. Others

Below is a short list of filler words that Germans use in their conversations. Using these will make you sound like a native and they’ll come in handy in many situations.

EnglishGerman 
I see (sudden understanding)ach so
sureklar
simplyhalt
welltja
alreadyschon

8. Conclusion

Armed with these German beginner words, you’ll be able to understand even more of the spoken language than you may have thought (thanks to those nifty word combinations!). How many of these words were new to you? And how many did you know already? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments! 

As you read more German, pay attention to how different words are composed. You’ll often notice they can be broken down into parts, which will help you derive their meanings more easily. 

Your goal should be to learn around 1000 German words; statistically, that’d cover 85.5% of all words you hear.

In other words, if you learn 1000 words, you’ll be able to speak German almost fluently. You’ll only have issues expressing yourself 14.5% of the time.

Memorize the 200+ from our list, and you’ll only be 800 words away from fluency.

Wondering where and how to learn those other 800 words?

Buckle up and head to GermanPod101.com.

Here, you can access lessons and word lists for the most important day-to-day vocabulary. Our lessons all feature the most effective learning tools, such as flashcards, slideshows, slowed-down audio, line-by-line breakdowns, and more.

You can also opt for 1-on-1 guidance from a language expert to answer your questions. Your private tutor can even give you a personalized learning program to match your learning goals.

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