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The 5 Go-To German Podcasts for Language Learners

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German is a stereotypically hard language to learn.

At some point, you’ve probably stumbled upon memes and videos comparing words in German to those in other languages. And, expectedly, the German words are almost always longer or more difficult to pronounce.

But let’s face it: While German may be slightly unorthodox, it definitely isn’t an impossible language to learn.

The real problem lies not in learning the language, but in mastering it—understanding all of its grammar rules, knowing all the exceptions, and being intimately familiar with all its nuts and bolts. Mastery of German requires full immersion in the language.

Speaking of immersion, few methods compare to intentional listening. German podcasts, in particular, provide a variety of benefits that will help you master the language. Below, we’ll break down just a few of these potential benefits before diving into a list of our favorite German podcasts for language learners.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn German
  2. The 5 Go-To German Podcasts for Language Learners
  3. The Best German Podcasts to Practice Listening
  4. Tricks to Learn German More Effectively with Podcasts
  5. Conclusion

1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn German

Improve your listening skills.

A Woman Talking to a Man

If you live in a German-speaking country and are actively interacting with locals, chances are you’ve already realized the benefits of listening.

On the other hand, if you’re isolated from native speakers or don’t make an effort to interact with them, you’re probably lacking some important skills that every German learner should possess.

Podcasts fill this gap and provide a perfect immersion solution to guarantee you grow your listening skills. In addition, regular listening can help you develop a better feel for German and more easily memorize new vocabulary. That leads us to the next benefit…

Learn new words.

Sticky Note Words

The advancement of your vocabulary is what usually defines your level as a language learner. The more words you know, the higher your fluency level is. A bit of grammar here and there helps, but vocabulary is always the main variable. When you know more words, you’re guaranteed to have smoother conversations with locals and a whole lot more confidence. 

Listening to German-language podcasts will help you grow your vocabulary, give you a feel for the different word cases, and show you how to best articulate sentences in German. 

Familiarize yourself with the culture.

German Flag

Having a strong grasp of German culture is essential if you want to have good conversations with locals. It might surprise you how much the language differs from one German-speaking country to another, largely as the result of cultural differences. 

Podcasts will help you understand how Germans perceive different things according to their culture, and consequently, allow you to handle different conversations with greater ease.

2. The 5 Go-To German Podcasts for Language Learners

Woman Listening to Something with Headphones

All Levels

GermanPod101

GermanPod101 is the most consistent, diverse, and active German podcast you can find. The number of available episodes, coupled with our coverage of all learning levels, makes us the go-to resource for a versatile audience of German learners.

If you’ve been learning German primarily through informal methods—such as speaking to friends and family, or even just browsing the internet in German every once in a while—chances are you’re not totally sure about your current level.

The GermanPod101 podcast will save you time and help you slowly assess your level. If you feel, at any point, like you can jump to another level or explore a new topic, you can easily opt for episodes that interest you along the way.

Our podcast episodes range from very short clips of just a few minutes to four-hour compilations of past episodes. You can also find a 24/7 German listening live stream on our official YouTube channel.

This German language learning podcast is a reliable resource for the demanding learner who’s always hungry for new content and information. For access to even more lessons and tools, you can create a free lifetime account on GermanPod101.com

Beginner

Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German is one of the best German podcasts for beginners who want to get their feet (or rather, their ears!) wet with German listening. 

The hosts speak slowly and clearly, using an intelligent mix of English and German. In each episode, they present a topic specific to the culture of a German-speaking country and then discuss it in English afterward. 

The podcast is updated weekly, with a few long breaks in between. 

Intermediate

Easy German

Easy German is the most spontaneous of all the podcasts on our list. Each episode consists of the hosts simply going out to the streets of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to interview people about their day-to-day lives.

Another thing that makes this podcast stand out is the English and German subtitles you can find through their YouTube channel.

The podcast also provides formal language learning episodes covering different topics, so you get a mix of the more “boring” side of language learning along with the more informal Easy German teaching method. 

Slow German mit Annik Rubens

Annik is a successful radio host of Armenian-German descent, famous for the show Schlaflos in München. She has won several awards for her work, and her podcast had 10,000 daily listeners.

Today, she runs the podcast Slow German, where she covers several topics in very slow German. All of the episodes are accompanied by subtitles to help you follow along.

Annik publishes new episodes around every two weeks, averaging two to three episodes per month. The length of the episodes ranges from five to fifteen minutes.

Advanced

Elementarfragen

For the advanced learner, podcasts like Elementarfragen present a great challenge. Host Nicolas Semak invites different guests over to ask and discuss questions on a variety of topics: viruses, Mars, the mafia, and more.

Elemntarfragen is updated on a weekly basis. It will help expand your vocabulary within lexical groups you may not have had exposure to yet.

3. The Best German Podcasts to Practice Listening

Now, if you’re a little bit more advanced or just want to get used to the “everyday” German that’s used in daily conversations, we recommend listening to some regular podcasts in German. You might learn some new words and phrases, and you’ll also start to understand German culture and people better.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Almost Daily

In hundreds of episodes and counting, the crew behind Almost Daily talks about literally everything that’s on their minds. There’s usually one leading topic per episode, and all participants share their thoughts and experiences. The topics vary from very absurd ones (like how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse) to more serious ones like first jobs or first apartments. Sometimes, they just play word games such as Stadt-Land-Fluss (“Categories”).

The tone is usually very light and entertaining. This German podcast is a great resource for learning new vocabulary and for getting tips before visiting Germany.

Lästerschwestern

The name of the podcast literally translates to “gossip sisters,” and it’s all about the German social media cosmos. If you’re interested in German YouTube/TikTok/Instagram trends—not to mention some insider information on how the influencer world works—this podcast is a great fit for you. 

This podcast will help you add some social media-related words and slang expressions to your vocabulary. In addition, it’s a great starting point if you’d like to dive into the German YouTube world and discover new people to follow.

Die Sprechstunde 

This podcast is trash talk par excellence—no serious topics, with a focus on pure entertainment. Every few days, the group around the famous German YouTube producer LeFloid gets together and discusses what they’ve experienced the past few days, sometimes even involving topics suggested by listeners. 

If you want to learn German slang and conversational German, then this podcast is for you. Think of it as just a group of friends talking about everything under the sun. 

Weird Crimes

Weird Crimes is just what the title promises. The German journalist and writer Visa Vie talks about true crimes, while input from German comedian Ines Anioli turns her stories into a weird mix of mystery, thriller, and comedy. This podcast offers a unique experience, though it’s not for everyone since the hosts often describe violence.

You might hear some vocabulary related to crimes and the German legal system. 

Fest und Flauschig

What happens when the leading German late-night show host and a sarcastic singer-songwriter come together? Well, then we get Fest und Flauschig (lit. “solid and fluffy”), a highly popular and awarded show. The topics vary from German politics to spirituality, and they’re always discussed with a twinkling eye. 

This podcast is a Spotify original, so it’s limited to one platform. But this didn’t stop it from becoming one of the most popular podcasts in Germany.

You should listen to this podcast if you’re interested in German culture and current events.

4. Tricks to Learn German More Effectively with Podcasts

This is where it gets interesting. Learning through any method can be ineffective if done incorrectly, especially when it comes to listening and reading. You can easily lose focus when practicing these two skills and end up spending lots of time with little in return.

Below, we’ve broken down some tricks for getting the most out of podcast listening. The tips and tricks below will assure you get the most out of your time, whether you’re at home or on the go.

On the Go

A Man Listening on the Go

If you’re an adult, chances are you have certain commitments you need to commute for every day: school, work, picking up the kids from kindergarten, or anything in between.

During your commutes, you can put on a German podcast and take advantage of that time, instead of wasting your time merely staring at traffic or people. But of course, podcasts come with no visuals or graphics to keep your brain engaged at all times. It’s hard to pay attention, especially when you have distractions all around you during your commute.

That’s where these tricks will come in handy. 

  • Train yourself to repeat words and phrases after the host. Many podcasts designed for language learners have specific repetition exercises integrated into each episode, so definitely take advantage of this. Even if you’re listening to podcasts for native speakers, you should try repeating after the host(s) whenever you can. This will help enhance your pronunciation, ingrain new vocabulary into your mind, and keep you attentive throughout the podcast. 
  • Do this twice: on the way there and on the way back. Listening to and repeating after the same episode twice will ensure you memorize even more vocabulary per episode. 
  • Write down new vocabulary words to practice later at home. You can even add them to a digital flashcard deck

At Home

Home sweet home. In the convenience of your own place, you’re in control of pretty much everything when it comes to how you learn using podcasts.

A podcast like GermanPod101 will enable you to access vocabulary lists and cheat sheets created specifically for each episode you listen to. That will allow you to really capitalize on the content of every episode and make sure you don’t miss out on anything. 

To access the materials for an episode, you can check the description for a link. There, you can leverage the different GermanPod101 tools—voice comparison, slowed-down audio, digital flashcards, and more—to get the most out of every podcast.

5. Conclusion

Congratulations on getting this far. You’re now ready to rock and roll with the top German podcasts for your level, as well as the best study methods you can use both on the go and at home.

We recommend you start small with podcasts regardless of your level.

Maybe go down a level, or start out with episodes you may find easier to grasp. Even better, you can opt for a podcast like GermanPod101 that offers episodes for every level. 

After you’ve built a habit of listening to podcasts and have familiarized yourself with German audio, you can start shifting to higher-level podcasts.

Happy learning!
Viel Spaß beim Lernen!

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Intermediate German Words to Level Up Your Vocab

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German may sound complicated at first.

It scares off many learners, especially when they listen to people speaking some of its more complicated dialects.

Even as a fluent German speaker, I find it unbelievably hard to understand the Swiss German variety. To this day, I still have to ask if the person can switch to Hochdeutsch (formal German).

But some people, including yourself, may end up managing to get the courage to push past the fear and frustration. Once you do, things will get much easier, especially once you start picking up the essential beginner and intermediate German words. 

Words will start to make more sense, and you’ll slowly but surely start to figure out that a lot of German vocabulary consists of compound words with unique meanings. You’ll start getting more and more compliments on your German, and you’ll start to have a better feel for the German sentence structure.

At this stage, you’re a pre-intermediate learner: someone who is past the beginner level and on a steady road to fluency. On your way there, picking up a lot of vocabulary will be key to having meaningful conversations with native speakers on a greater variety of topics. After all, you don’t want to be pausing mid-conversation to ask what a word means! 

That’s where this article comes in handy.

We’ve taken the time to put together a list of several intermediate German words by category, accompanied by their English translations. In addition, we’ve broken down some of the best ways to retain and practice new vocabulary so that you can efficiently memorize the words below.

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

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Large Numbers – große Zahlen
  2. Nouns – Nomen
  3. Verbs – Verben
  4. Adjectives – Adjektive
  5. Adverbs – Adverbien
  6. Prepositions – Präpositionen
  7. Conjunctions – Konjunktionen
  8. Particles – Partikel
  9. Conclusion

1. Large Numbers – große Zahlen

Number 28 Raised Up

One of the first things you should learn as you approach the intermediate level in German is how to form large numbers. This will help you deal with a variety of everyday situations, such as making expensive purchases or telling someone your age. 

English TranslationGerman WordNumber
“ten”Zehn10
“eleven”elf11
“twelve”zwölf12
“thirteen”dreizehn13
“fourteen”vierzehn14
“fifteen”fünfzehn15
“sixteen”sechzehn16
“seventeen”siebzehn17
“eighteen”achtzehn18
“nineteen”neunzehn19
“twenty”zwanzig20
“thirty”dreißig30
“forty”vierzig40
“fifty”fünfzig50
“sixty”sechzig60
“seventy”siebzig70
“eighty”achtzig80
“ninety”neunzig90
“a hundred”einhundert100
“a thousand”eintausend1,000
“ten thousand”zehntausend10,000
“a hundred thousand”Hunderttausend100,000
“a million”eine Million1,000,000

2. Nouns – Nomen

Words in a Dictionary: Hospitable, Hospital, Hospitality

Nouns make up the bulk of our vocabulary, so it’s good for intermediate German learners to pick up as many as they can in different categories. 

Time – Zeit


English TranslationGerman Word
“Century”Jahrhundert
“Morning”Morgen
“Evening”Abend
“Quarter”Quartal
“Semester”Semester

Places – Plätze


English TranslationGerman Word
“Region”Region
“Department”Abteilung
“Village”Dorf
“Park”Park
“Bank”Bank
“Pharmacy”Apotheke
“Hospital”Krankenhaus
“Bakery”Bäckerei
“Cliff”Klippe
“Beach”Strand
“Island”Insel
“Hill”Hügel

Technology – Technologie


English TranslationGerman Word
“Screen”Bildschirm
“Keyboard”Tastatur
“Mouse”Maus
“Tablet”Tablet
“TV”Fernseher
“Console”Konsole
“Charger”Ladegerät
“Website”Webseite
“Account”Konto
“Password”Passwort
“File”Datei
“Folder”Folder
“Software”Software

Home – Zuhause


English TranslationGerman Word
“Room”Zimmer
“Floor”Fußboden
“Living room”Wohnzimmer
“Bathroom”Bad
“Fridge”Kühlschrank
“Wardrobe”Kleiderschrank

City & Transportation – Stadt & Verkehr


English TranslationGerman Word
“Suburbs”Vorort
“Neighborhood”Nachbarschaft
“Highway”Autobahn
“Alley”Gasse
“Roundabout”Kreisel
“Crossroad”Kreuzung

People – Menschen


English TranslationGerman Word
“Uncle”Onkel
“Aunt”Tante
“Grandson”Enkel
“Granddaughter”Enkelin
“Child”Kind
“Grandfather”Großvater
“Grandmother”Oma

Body Parts – Körperteile


English TranslationGerman Word
“Finger”Finger
“Back”Rücken
“Belly”Bauch
“Breast”Brust
“Shoulder”Schulter
“Leg”Bein
“Thigh”Schenkel
“Butt”Hintern
“Foot”Fuß
“Cheek”Wange
“Chin”Kinn
“Forehead”Stirn

Food – Essen


English TranslationGerman Word
“Knife”Messer
“Fork”Gabel
“Spoon”Löffel
“Wine”Wein
“Dish”Gericht
“Appetizer”Vorspeise
“Dessert”Nachtisch
“Drink”Getränk
“Coffee”Kaffee

Work & Studies – Arbeit & Studium


English TranslationGerman Word
“Nurse”Krankenschwester
“Judge”Richter
“Lawyer”Anwalt
“Waiter”Bedienung
“Scientist”Wissenschaftler

Clothes – Kleider


English TranslationGerman Word
“Pants”Hose
“Sweater”Pullover
“T-shirt”T-Shirt
“Shirt”Hemd
“Coat”Mantel
“Socks”Socken
“Shoes”Schuhe
“Dress”Kleid
“Hat”Hut

3. Verbs – Verben

List of Verbs

At this point, you already know the most important action words and auxiliaries. To help you level up and expand your vocabulary, here are the essential intermediate German verbs that will allow you to get your point across more accurately. 

German WordEnglish Translation
dienen   “to serve”
verlassen“to leave”
erlauben“to allow”
senden“to send”
bekommen“to get” / “to receive”
leben“to live”
anrufen“to call”
erinnern“to remind”
vorstellen“to introduce”
akzeptieren“to accept”
ablehnen“to refuse”
handeln“to act”
spielen“to play”
erkennen“to recognize”
wählen“to choose”
berühren“to touch”
erklären“to explain”
aufstehen“to get up”
öffnen“to open”
schließen   “to close”
gewinnen“to win”
verlieren“to lose”
existieren“to exist”
erfolgreich sein“to succeed”
wechseln“to change”
arbeiten“to work”
studieren“to study”
schlafen“to sleep”
gehen“to walk”
versuchen“to try”
stoppen“to stop”
weitermachen“to continue”
kochen“to cook”
gehören“to belong”
riskieren“to risk”
lernen“to learn”
treffen“to meet”
erschaffen“to create”
werden“to become”
betreten“to enter”
beenden“to exit”
anbieten“to offer”
bringen“to bring”
benutzen“to use”
erreichen“to reach”
vorbereiten“to prepare”
hinzufügen   “to add”
bezahlen“to pay”
berücksichtigen“to consider”
kaufen“to buy”
drücken   “to push”
einkaufen“to shop”
reisen“to travel”

4. Adjectives – Adjektive


A Woman Sitting by the Sea

If nouns and verbs are the bread and butter of language, adjectives are the honey. These words add a bit of flavor and personality to your speech, allowing you to give vivid descriptions of the world around you. Below are a few German adjectives to get you started. 

German WordEnglish Translation
genial“awesome”
schrecklich“horrible”
seltsam“weird”
kompliziert“complicated”
dick“thick”
dünn“thin”
nah“near”
weit“far”
eng“narrow”
breit“wide”
sanft“soft”
hart“hard”
voll“full”
leer“empty”
leicht“light”
schwer“heavy”
einzigartig“unique”
besonders“special”
neu“new”
alt“old”
arm“poor”
reich“rich”
sauber“clean”
dreckig“dirty”
schwach“weak”
stark“strong”
schlank“slim”
fett“fat”
süß“cute”
bedeutend“important”
komisch“funny”
nett“nice”
glücklich“happy”
traurig“sad”
ruhig“calm”
aufgeregt“excited”
gefährlich“dangerous”
langweilig“boring”
würzig“spicy”
zweiter“second”
nächster“next”
bisheriger“previous”
vorletzter“second-to-last”
orange“orange”
rosa“pink”
grau“gray”
lila“purple”
magenta“magenta”
türkis“turquoise”

5. Adverbs – Adverbien


A Woman Reading Quietly

Adverbs help us give more apt descriptions of how (or to what extent) something was done. Here are just a few of the more common German adverbs for you:

When – Wann


German WordEnglish Translation
schon“already”
vor langer Zeit“a long time ago”
jetzt“now”
nochmal“again”
zu guter Letzt“at last”
dann“then”
danach“thereafter”

How Often – Wie Oft


German WordEnglish Translation
manchmal“sometimes”
selten“rarely”
in der Regel“usually”
allgemein“generally”
die ganze Zeit“all the time”

Where – Wo


English TranslationGerman Word
“nowhere”nirgends
“somewhere”irgendwo
“elsewhere”anderswo
“up”oben
“down”unten
“over”über
“under”unter
“far”weit

How – Wie


English TranslationGerman Word
“quietly”leise
“slowly”langsam
“quickly”schnell
“calmly”ruhig
“easily”leicht
“luckily”glücklicherweise
“simply”einfach

How Much – Wie Viel


German WordEnglish Translation
genug“enough”
insbesondere“especially”
fast“almost”
wie viel“how much”
so viele“so many”
so wenig“so few”
über“about”

6. Prepositions – Präpositionen

The next set of words we’ll add to your intermediate German vocabulary are prepositions.

Time – Zeit

Quarter of an Hour on a Clock to Express Time

English TranslationGerman Word
“before”vor
“after”nach dem

Space – Raum


English TranslationGerman Word
“next to”neben an
“to the right”nach rechts
“to the left”nach links
“at”beim
“in front of”vor dem
“behind”hinter
“under”unter
“over”über

Other – Andere


German WordEnglish Translation
zwischen“between”
dank an“thanks to”
trotz“despite”
ohne“without”
mit“with”

7. Conjunctions – Konjunktionen


German WordEnglish Translation
weder… noch…“neither… nor…”
so / also“so”
andernfalls“otherwise”
da“since” (as)
wenn“when”
deshalb“therefore”

8. Particles – Partikel

To conclude our list, let’s look at a few German particles that are used for affirmation, negation, and intensification. 

Affirmation


German WordEnglish Translation
aber“but”
ja“yes”
wohl“well”

Negation


German WordEnglish Translation
auf keinen fall“no way”
niemals“never”

Intensification


German WordEnglish Translation
schon
mal
nun“well”
denn

9. Conclusion

Herzlichen Glückwünsch! (“Congratulations!”)

You should now have a pretty good idea about intermediate German particles, conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs, and more.

Without these words as your weapons, you’d struggle to cross that intermediate learner mark! 

Want to make sure you memorize as many words as possible?

Enter flashcards.

Flashcards are a proven language learning tool for effective memorization. In case you’re interested, there are dedicated apps and online tools for this technique. On GermanPod101.com, for example, you get automatic access to your own customizable flashcard decks. Don’t have the time to manually add all of your target words? Don’t fret! We also provide ready-to-go flashcard decks for learners at every level. 

What else can our website offer you?

  • Customizable vocabulary tools (wordlists, vocab builders, and more)
  • Slowed-down audio 
  • Line-by-line breakdowns
  • Voice recording tools for pronunciation comparison

Moreover, GermanPod101 has vetted professional, native-speaking German language experts to work with you. They can help you create a personalized learning program and assist you with any questions you may have concerning the German language.

Our platform hosts thousands of written, audio, and video lessons on more topics than you could imagine, all explained and designed by language experts. These lessons will help you make the most of your study time, as they’re based on proven learning methods that guarantee results.

The great news is that GermanPod101 is available on both mobile devices (iPhone/Android) and your desktop browser. All you need to do is sign up for free at GermanPod101.com and take it from there.

Viel Spaß beim Lernen!
Happy learning!

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30+ German Phone Call Phrases

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Remember the last time you had to make an important call? 

When you had that shaky feeling in your chest…the one you get right after you hear the ring on the other end?

Or maybe you’re one of those gifted people who can screw up their courage and take it easy.

While we’re slowly ditching what used to be the main function of telephones—voice calling—for things like texting and Facebook, there are still moments when we need to pick up the phone. 

This in mind, language learners will still benefit from memorizing a few German phone call phrases in today’s SMS-based world. While in Germany, you’ll have to order food from a new favorite restaurant, call the local barbershop for a reservation, or phone your boss with an urgent question. 

Things that are socially challenging in your own language become even more intense when a foreign language like German is involved! 

To make your life easier, GermanPod101 has put together a list of more than 30 phrases for phone calls in German. We’ve also included conversation examples to give you a better idea of how to use them and to help you become an effective communicator over the phone

Let’s dig in…

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Conclusion

1. Picking up the Phone

Woman on the Phone

To get started, let’s look at a few different ways you can answer a phone call in German. Remember that the greeting you use will depend on whether the call is formal or casual in nature. 

If you’re talking to a friend, use this:

Hello.
Hallo.

And if you’re talking to an unknown or formal caller, then use one of the next expressions:

[Last name] at the telephone.
[Last Name] am Apparat.

[Last name].

Good morning!
Guten Morgen!

Good day!
Guten Tag!

Good evening!
Guten Abend!

Such a phone call might proceed as follows:

A: Schmidt.
B: Guten Tag Frau Schmidt.

A: “Schmidt.”
B: “Good day Mrs. Schmidt.”

2. Saying Who You Are

The next thing you’ll want to do is introduce yourself. This is rather formal in German, especially when talking to a stranger or someone with whom you have a formal relationship. Here’s the most ideal expression to use: 

This is [name].
Hier spricht [Name].

Literally, the phrase above translates to: “Here speaks [name].”

If you’re receiving a call from a customer or someone at work, use the following expression:

This is [name], from [company].
Hier Spricht [Name] von [Firma].

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

Pan on the Phone

This is the most crucial part of your phone call. Not knowing what to say here will make your call pretty much pointless. Before you get on the phone or expect a call, make sure you rehearse this part to make it easier for whoever is on the other end.

If you’re calling to make a certain request, use the following phone call phrase:

I’m calling to ask… / confirm… / make a reservation.
Ich rufe an, um zu fragen … / zu bestätigen … / eine Reservierung vorzunehmen.

Need help with something in particular? Use this expression:

I’d like to speak to someone about… 
Ich würde gerne mit jemandem über… sprechen.

If you missed someone’s call, you can call back and say:

I’m calling back, because someone tried to reach me from this number.
Ich rufe zurück, da jemand versucht hat, mich von dieser Nummer zu erreichen.

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Stressed Out Woman on the Phone

When asking to speak to someone—such as a friend via their home phone number or an individual in a specific position via their company’s fixed telephone number—the following expressions will come in handy.

May I speak to…? 
Kann ich mit… sprechen?

Is [name] there? 
Ist [Name] da?

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Waiting in line can get very frustrating, especially when it’s a matter of urgency. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to master the necessary stay-on-the-line expressions in German:

Let me check quickly. 
Lassen Sie mich kurz nachschauen.

I’ll put you on hold for a second. 
Ich werde Sie für eine Sekunde in die Warteschleife legen.

I’ll transfer you to the right office. Stay on the line please. 
Ich werde Sie mit dem richtigen Büro verbinden. Bleiben Sie bitte in der Leitung.

6. Leaving a Message

A Man Using His Cell Phone

Voicemail among friends and family is slowly becoming obsolete. But in business, it’s still relevant and very important for urgent calls.

Here are three expressions you can use to leave a message next time you have to make a business phone call in German: 

Please let him know… 
Bitte sagen Sie ihm…

Can I leave a message? 
Kann ich eine Nachricht hinterlassen?

Can you tell him to call me back at [phone number]? 
Können Sie ihm sagen, er soll mich unter [Telefonnummer] zurückrufen?

7. Asking for Clarification

Asking for clarification is especially relevant when you’re at that beginner stage, or if you often face network issues that might interrupt your call.

Sorry, could you say that again? 
Entschuldigung, können Sie das noch einmal sagen?

I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time hearing you. I think there’s a bad connection.
Es tut mir leid, aber ich kann Sie kaum hören. Ich glaube die Verbindung ist schlecht.

Could you spell your name for me, please? 
Könnten Sie bitte Ihren Namen buchstabieren?

Just to double check… 
Nur um sicher zu gehen…
Lit. “Just to make sure…”

You can also ask your caller if they speak English, just in case:

Do you speak English?
Sprechen Sie Englisch?

8. Ending the Phone Call

Woman on the Phone Checking the Time

Whether your call went well or not, it’s always worth leaving a nice impression at the end.

Anything else I can help with? 
Kann ich sonst noch helfen?

You’ve been very helpful. Thank you. 
Sie waren sehr hilfreich. Vielen Dank.

See you on (day) at (time). 
Wir sehen uns am (Tag) um (Zeit).

Have a great day. 
Ich wünsche ihnen einen wunderschönen Tag.

9. Sample Phone Conversations

To give you a better idea of how a phone conversation in German might go, we’ve included two sample dialogues for you: one informal and one formal. 

Informal phone conversation

Two friends are setting up a time to meet for lunch on a weekend. Here is a short conversation they’ve had on the phone.

Paul: Hallo.
Marie: Hallo.

Paul: Hello.
Marie: Hello.

Paul: Wie geht’s dir?
Marie: Gut. Ich lerne für eine Prüfung. Und dir?

Paul: How are you doing?
Marie: Good. I’m studying for an exam. How about you?

Paul: Mir geht es gut, danke. Ich lese ein Buch. 
Marie: Schön.

Paul: I’m good, thanks. I’m reading a book.
Marie: Nice.

Paul: Bist du am Wochenende in der Stadt?
Marie: Ja, hast du irgendwelche Pläne?

Paul: Are you in town on the weekend?
Marie: Yes, you have any plans?

Paul: Wollen wir zusammen Lunch essen?
Marie: Ja, warum nicht! Wann genau?

Paul: Should we have lunch together?
Marie: Yeah, why not! When exactly?

Paul: Samstag Nachmittags?
Marie: Können wir uns gegen 14:00 Uhr treffen?

Paul: In the afternoon.
Marie: Could we meet around two p.m.?

Paul: 15 Uhr wäre besser.
Marie: Hört sich gut an.

Paul: I prefer three p.m.
Marie: Sounds good.

Paul: Bis dann!
Marie: Bis dann, tschüss!

Paul: See you!
Marie: See you, bye!

Formal phone conversation

After they set the time and place, one of the friends calls the restaurant to reserve a table. Here is an example of a short phone conversation for this situation. 

Paul: Guten Tag!
Rezeptionistin: Hamburgs Hamburger – Guten Tag!

Paul: Good day!
Receptionist: Hamburg Hamburgers – Good day!

Paul: Ich möchte einen Tisch für zwei Personen reservieren.
Rezeptionistin: Für wann möchten Sie reservieren?

Paul: I would like to reserve a table for two.
Receptionist: For when would you like to reserve?

Paul: Ich würde gerne für Samstag reservieren.
Rezeptionistin: Gerne, wie viel Uhr?

Paul: I’d like to reserve a table for Saturday.
Receptionist: Surely, what time?

Paul: 15 Uhr, bitte.
Rezeptionistin: Samstag, 15 Uhr, zwei Person. Auf welchen Namen?

Paul: Three in the afternoon, please.
Receptionist: Saturday, three p.m., two people. And what’s your name please?

Paul: Paul Schmidt.
Rezeptionistin: Perfekt, Herr Schmidt. Bis Samstag!

Paul: Paul Schmidt.
Receptionist: Perfect, Mr. Schmidt. See you on Saturday!

10. Conclusion

And there you go.

You’re now all set to start taking and making phone calls in German like a boss. How confident are you? Are there any phrases or situations you’d still like to learn before your next all-German call?

As long as you let your interlocutor know that you’re not a native speaker, a few basic sentences to get the point across will do.

You’ll have people speak to you in slower-than-usual German, and that’ll make it easier for you to understand.

You should also rehearse what you have to say for different conversations, as this will help you get more and more comfortable with phone convos. 

Not convinced you can pull that off easily?

Then you might want to grasp a few more German words before making that phone call.

For that, I recommend checking out GermanPod101.

Here, you can find pretty much all the lessons you might need to go from beginner to advanced.

In fact, our system is equipped with some of the most effective language learning techniques. This includes features like pronunciation comparison, slowed-down German audio, online flashcards, slideshows, and more. 

All of these features and more are incorporated within a proven learning system. This ensures that you learn the language in the shortest amount of time possible. 

You also get access to dedicated tutors who can answer your questions and help explain any German rules or words you might be struggling with.

Take advantage of GermanPod101’s free trial and check it all out for yourself. No credit card required.

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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.

You can get all of this and more by signing up for free on the GermanPod101 website.

No credit card or unnecessary information required.

Sign up here and access our materials from your desktop or mobile phone.

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German Filler Words: Speak Deutsch Like a Native

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Imagine if everything in language was straightforward and perfect.

Like, literally.

No typos. No jokes. No slang.

Just everyone meaning business.

It wouldn’t be much fun, would it?

The imperfections found in languages, dialects, and communication in general are what make them fun. 

We all like to communicate clearly, but that never allows for any awkward, unforeseen, or weird moments—moments which could be pretty funny, if you think about it.

Knowing how flawed our communication is, we try our best to hide our imperfections.

As a learner of the language, you can do this well by using German filler words.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. The Top 10 German Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Conclusion

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

Before we introduce you to the most common filler words in German and show you how to use them to your advantage, let’s cover the basics. 

A- What are filler words?

Question Mark on a Blackboard

Filler words, or Füllwörter as the Germans call them, are the expressions we use to avoid pauses and fill in gaps during our day-to-day conversations. They could be something as short as an “uh,” “err,” or “okay,” or as long as an “in my opinion” or “I think that.”

While some filler words do have meanings of their own, they’re not typically used to express those meanings in this context. Rather, they mostly serve as sentence connectors that we don’t even notice when saying or hearing them.

Whether you’re a fan of filler words or not, they have invaded every language and people use them even in professional contexts.

B- Why do we use them?

The psychology behind filler words is worth a pretty long discussion, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll just discuss a few ideas on the topic. 

We want to be polite.

Three Individuals Talking Politely

Most of us don’t want to come across as rude. While being direct is arguably a great approach, a bit of politeness can go a long way.

That’s where filler words come in.

If you call a support team asking for a service they refuse to provide, it would seem very rude if they just said “No!” Instead, they use filler words such as “Uhm…” or “I’m afraid that…” or “Unfortunately…” to make it sound more polite than just a plain rejection.

We want to be understood.

A Man and Woman Communicating

Everyone wants their opinion heard, and more than that, everyone wants to be understood.

Whether you’re teaching a subject, giving a conference, or consulting someone, it’s easy to get carried away with your ideas and to forget that you’re communicating with a human and not a machine.

This is one big reason why filler words are so popular.

They help us formulate our ideas well, and to present them in a fashion and speed that’s easily absorbed by others. 

We want to lie or deceive.

Pinocchio Nose

Obviously, not everyone that uses filler words is doing so to lie or deceive, but scientists have observed patterns in conversation filler overuse that suggest dishonesty is one reason people use fillers. This is especially evident when the idea in question could be communicated easily without the use of filler words, or when someone delays answering a yes-or-no question by using unnecessary words.

2. The Top 10 German Filler Words

Now that you have some additional context regarding filler words, it’s time for you to begin studying the top 10 German conversation fillers. Feel free to practice using them right away! 

1 – Also (So)

This filler word is used to transition from one sentence or clause to another. 

Example #1


Also, wann können wir uns treffen?
“So, when can we meet?”

Example #2

Also, wie alt bist du?
“So, how old are you?”

2 – Eigentlich (Actually)

This is one of the most unnecessarily used German filler words, similar to “actually” in English.

Example #1

Was nervt Sie eigentlich in Deutschland am meisten?
“What actually annoys you most in Germany?”

Example #2

Ich kann eigentlich nichts.
“I can’t actually do anything.”

3 – Stimmt. (That’s right.)

Example #1

Stimmt. Ich habe es auch nicht gesehn.
“That’s right. I didn’t see it either.”

Example #2

Stimmt. Es dauert zu lange.
“That’s right. It takes too much time.”

4 – Bestimmt (Definitely)

Example #1

Das ist bestimmt nicht so schlecht.
“That’s definitely not that bad.”

Example #2

Ich werde es bestimmt essen.
“I’ll definitely eat it.”

5 – Ach so (I see)

Germans throw in an ach so when any existing confusion has been cleared. It signals a sudden understanding.

Example #1

Person 1: Nein, es war im Kühlschrank. 
Person 2: Ach so.

Person 1: “No, it was in the fridge.”
Person 2: “I see.”

Example #2

Ach so, ich dachte du sagtest etwas anderes.
“I see. I thought you said something else.”

6 – Klar (Sure)

Klar is used to express agreement in German.

Example #1

Klar, nimm dir Zeit.
“Sure, take your time.”

Example #2

Klar, was machst du so?
“Sure, what are you doing?”

7 – Halt (Simply)

Here’s another filler in German that’s used far more than necessary. It has no real meaning (a rough equivalent would be “simply”) and people use it in a variety of contexts. 

Example #1

Geh halt zur Schule!
“(Simply) go to school!”

Example #2

Ich kann halt nichts tun.
“I (simply) can’t do anything.”

8 – Tja (Well)

Example #1

Tja, ich wusste es.
“Well, I knew it.”

Example #2

Tja, das kann ich tun.
“Well, I can do that.”

9 – Schon (Already)

Schon means “already,” but it’s frequently used as a filler word with pretty much no meaning.

Example #1

Das wusste ich schon.
“I knew that already.”

Example #2

Das ist schon etwas sonderbar.
“That’s a bit strange.”

10 – Doch (Nevertheless)

Doch is one of those words that give German learners a hard time. While it doesn’t have a clear meaning, it’s used to counter negative statements. That makes “nevertheless” the closest translation to it. Here are two examples:

Example #1

Person 1: Bist du nicht!
Person 2: Bin ich doch!

Person 1: “You’re not!”
Person 2: “I am!”

Example #2

Person 1: Mein Chef will mich befördern. 
Person 2: Das ist doch gut!

Person 1: “My boss wants to promote me.”
Person 2: “But that’s good!”

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

Filler words may seem insignificant, but how (and how often) you use them contributes to shaping people’s opinions about you. People might make judgements on your confidence, talkativeness, social skills, or even personality based off of how you use conversation fillers. 

In the sections below, we’ve thoroughly illustrated some of the top pros and cons of using filler words, as well as how you can substitute them.

A- Pros of Using Filler Words

Four Friends Hanging Out

You sound more natural.

Filler words can give you a more natural, approachable tone. In fact, not using filler words at all might cause you to sound robotic or even arrogant, which would probably not help with your social life, especially in day-to-day, informal conversations.

You sound friendlier.

People will feel more drawn to you when you use filler words. You’ll sound more familiar, and people are more comfortable with people who behave similarly to them.  

Note that this may not be the case in a more formal context, such as a business meeting. Sometimes you have to cut out all the flim-flam and get straight to the point, which leads us to the next section.

B- Cons of Using Filler Words

A Woman Shrugging with an Uncertain Look on Her Face

You’re considered hesitant.

Imagine you’re in a business meeting with a German company and you start throwing a bunch of tja’s into your speech. It would sound a bit off, wouldn’t it? 

It would actually give the impression that you’re a bit hesitant and unsure of what you’re talking about. Therefore, consider halting or minimizing your usage of filler words in business meetings and other formal contexts. You don’t want to leave a bad impression, especially with Germans.

You’re perceived as having low self-confidence.

Remember how kids in primary school would always make fun of that one kid with a stuttering problem? Even if that kid was strong physically or mentally, the others would neglect and look down upon him. 

The same concept—but on a smaller scale—applies to adults when they use a lot of unnecessary filler words. People perceive it as a sign of low self-confidence and might proceed to disrespect or ignore that person.

Therefore, to command more respect in your relationships, especially if you’re in a leading role, it’s crucial that you pay attention to how frequently you use filler words.

C- How to Substitute Filler Words

Feeling like you can’t really let go of all those conversation fillers? Well, we have a great alternative.

“Silence speaks when words can’t.”

That’s right. The best alternative to filler words is silence. Whether you’re not sure about the next sentence or want to reword your last one, you can take your time to formulate your ideas and just remain silent throughout that short period.

It may sound weird to the people around you when you start doing that, but it’ll slowly become more and more familiar.

Consequently, it’ll help you command more respect and trust, especially at work and other professional environments.

4. Conclusion

And, congratulations!

You’ve now learned what most early German learners don’t.

You now have the ability to understand and use filler words. You shouldn’t be surprised if Germans start to seem even more impressed with your German now. 

Which of these words was your favorite? Which ones do you use most in your own language?

If you’re thinking about expanding your skills even more, create your free lifetime account on GermanPod101.com today. Whether you want to learn how to order food, how to pronounce German umlauts, or just understand more German in general, we have your back. 

We provide a full range of lessons covering all levels of German. With us, you can go from beginner to master with a minimal time investment.

Thanks to GermanPod101’s proven learning systems, you can sign up for free today and get access to thousands of audio, video, and text lessons on any topic you might be looking for.

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Viel Spaß beim Lernen!
Happy learning!

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Negation in German: How to Form Negative Sentences

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Are you a people-pleaser? Someone who goes out of their way to make others happy and can’t say no to anyone? 

Of course, learning a language is all about developing new skills, embracing new experiences, and accepting challenges…so you’ll probably be saying yes quite a lot. Yet, you still need to know how to say no if you want to master the German language!

A Man Holding a Green Check Mark in One Hand and a Red X in the Other

In this article, we’ll look at negation in German. You’ll learn how to make negative sentences, how to answer a yes-or-no question correctly, and how to politely decline an offer or invitation…without making anyone upset.

Sure, saying no isn’t easy for some of us. But I assure you it will be (at least from a language-learning point of view!), after you’ve read this. 

Let’s waste no more time then, and look at how to form negatives in German!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Negative Sentences
  2. How to Answer with a No
  3. Other Useful Negative Expressions
  4. How Our Website Can Help

1. Negative Sentences

A negative sentence is one stating that something is false. In English, for example, we create these by adding the word “not” after a helping verb (do, have, be, etc.).

  • Dave is not happy. 
  • We did not go to work today. 

There are three main German negation words. The first one, as you might have guessed, is nein, which means “no.” To construct a negative sentence, however, we use two different words: nicht (not) and kein (not a / not… any / no).

Let’s have a look at how to negate sentences in German using these words.

A- When to Use Nicht

In German negation, nicht is used to negate verbs, nouns (including proper nouns like Maria, John, etc.), adjectives (including possessive adjectives), and adverbs. 

Have a look at the examples below:

  • With a VERB:
    Wir warten nicht.
    We are not waiting.
  • With a NOUN that has a definite article (der, die, or das – “the”):
    Ich kenne diesen Film nicht.
    I don’t know this movie.
  • With a PROPER NOUN:
    Sie heißt nicht Mikaela.
    Her name’s not Mikaela.
  • With an ADJECTIVE:
    Ich bin nicht fertig.
    I am not ready.
  • With a POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE:
    Das ist nicht meine Tasche.
    That’s not my bag.
  • With an ADVERB:
    Er spielt nicht gut Fußball.
    He does not play football well.

B- Where to Put Nicht

As you’ve probably noticed, nicht does not always appear in the same place within a sentence. There are a couple of things to remember when using it, so as to make sure you place it correctly in relation to other elements. 

In a simple sentence, nicht goes at the end, after the verb.

  • Wir warten nicht.
    We are not waiting.

However, we rarely speak like that in everyday life, so let’s see how the behavior of nicht changes according to what you’re negating.

A Family Waiting Outside the Bathroom for Another Family Member

Get out of the bathroom, we are not waiting any longer.

It usually goes before an adjective or adverb, unless we’re talking about an adverb of time (e.g. später [later], früher [earlier], gestern [yesterday], morgen [tomorrow]), in which case nicht comes after the adverb.

  • Das Essen schmeckt nicht gut.
    The food doesn’t taste good.
  • Sie kann heute nicht kommen.
    She can’t come today.

We place nicht before prepositions:

  • Er kommt nicht aus Bamberg.
    He does not come from Bamberg.

C- When to Use Kein

Sometimes, you’ll have to use kein (instead of nicht) to form a negative sentence. Remember, kein can be translated as “not a…”, “not… any” or “no.”

Kein has to agree with the noun it describes, and it functions in the same way as the forms of the indefinite article ein

We use kein in two ways, always with nouns. You can use it to negate a noun that has an indefinite article, or to negate a noun that has no article: 

  • Ich habe keine Geschwister.
    I have no siblings.
  • Sie haben keine Hausaufgaben.
    They don’t have any homework. (Literally: They have no homework.)

2. How to Answer with a No

There are two types of questions: open-ended and close-ended. A close-ended question (Entscheidungsfragen in German) is usually one you can answer with a “yes” or a “no,” without having to give any other explanation. 

In English, we usually say: “Yes, I do.” / “No, I don’t.”

In German, you could just say ja (yes) or nein (no), but you can also learn some more expressions to make your speech sound more natural. It’s common, for example, to give an explanation of why you’re saying no. This is also true in English, of course, and it’s more a matter of common sense than one of grammar or language rules!

To go with your negative responses, you could learn expressions like: 

  • Tut mir Leid. (I am sorry.)
  • Leider (unfortunately / regrettably)

Another fun German way of saying “no” is the colloquial word nee, which is widely used at all levels of society. It’s a nice way of saying nein (which would sound quite rude on its own), without having to give any explanations!

A second alternative to the formal nein is the colloquial word . This would not sound rude to a German speaker, and it’s considered a friendly way to say “no.”

  • Triffst du dich heute mit Johannes? (Are you meeting Johannes today?)
    Nö. (Nope.)
A Man Who Ate Too Much at a Restaurant

A: Are you hungry? / B: Absolutely not.

On the other hand, you can use the following phrases to say “Absolutely not!”

  • Auf gar keinen Fall.
    Under no circumstance.
  • Überhaupt nicht.
    Definitely not.
  • Absolut nicht.
    Absolutely not.

Doch in German

Actually, there’s another way of answering close-ended questions in German that we haven’t mentioned yet: Doch.

While studying the language, you might have noticed that doch and ja both mean “yes” in German…but they’re used in different ways. As you know, ja is the usual word for “yes” and is the opposite of “no” (nein)

  • Kommst du mit? (Are you coming?)
    Ja. (Yes.)

When do we use doch, then? Doch is used when answering a negative question with a yes, or to contradict a negative statement: 

  • Kommst du nicht mit? (Aren’t you coming?)
    Doch! (Yes [on the contrary], I am!)
  • Du bist nicht intelligent. (You aren’t intelligent.)
    Doch. (Yes [on the contrary], I am.)

A Man Flipping through Channels on TV and Talking on the Phone

The game is on. Aren’t you coming?

Doch can also be used with a similar meaning as the English word “indeed,” to stress a contrast or a certainty. 

  • Hast du das gemacht? (Did you do it?)
    Ich habe es doch gemacht. (Indeed, I did do it.)

3. Other Useful Negative Expressions

If you want to sound like a native, have a look at some of the most common expressions used in negative sentences.

Did you know, for example, that there are two ways of saying “never”? They are nie and niemals. These two words are interchangeable, but nie is more commonly used. If you use these words, you won’t need to use nicht or kein.

An Old Man Shrugging His Shoulders

I don’t understand anything.

Some other words that you’ll find useful in negative sentences are: 

  • A- Noch nicht

    This means “not yet” and can also be used for more emphasis:
    Ich bin noch nicht fertig.
    I’m not finished yet.
  • B- Nichts

    This means “nothing” or “not anything”:

    Ich verstehe nichts.
    I don’t understand anything. (Literally: I understand nothing.)
  • Niemand and Nirgendwo

    These respectively mean “no one” and “nowhere.” Niemand needs to change according to the case, while nirgendwo always stays the same.

    Niemand hat mir geholfen.
    No one helped me.

    Ich kann das Auto nirgendwo sehen.
    I can’t see the car anywhere.
  • C- Weder…noch

    This means “neither…nor” and it works the same way as in English:

    Er spricht weder Englisch noch Deutsch.
    He speaks neither English nor German.

Again, unlike in some other languages (like Italian), in German we do not do “double negation.” So if you use these words, you will not need to repeat the words nicht or kein. 

Here are the positive/negative pairs of the words we’ve just seen. Knowing how to recognize and use them correctly will be a big step in your language-learning journey

  • etwas / alles—nichts (something/everything—nothing)
  • jemand—niemand (somebody/anybody—nobody)
  • irgendwo—nirgendwo / nirgends (somewhere—nowhere)
  • immer / oft / manchmal—nie / niemals (always / often / sometimes—never)
  • mit—ohne (with—without)

4. How Our Website Can Help

If you want to learn more German vocabulary and grammar, make sure you check out GermanPod101.com. Here, you’ll find all the content you need to make your language learning journey as interesting and as pleasant as possible. 

Practice your listening skills with podcasts and audio lessons, build your vocabulary with word lists and key phrases, and learn useful strategies for learning German more efficiently. 

If you want to learn German in order to travel in Germany and other European countries, don’t miss our travel Survival Course. Knowing the language will help you be safe during your trip abroad, and being able to communicate with the locals in their native tongue will make your adventures even more unforgettable… 

I hope that you’ll be able to say YES! to all their invitations and offers…but, well, at least now you know how to say “no” properly without sounding rude!

And, if you’re studying German for work or study, make the commitment and start using our member-only features to gain access to the best available German content. The resources available will make learning German feel like a walk in the park, and you’ll be able to reach your language-learning goals in no time at all!

Before you go, we would love to hear from you. How did this article help you? Is there anything about negation in German you’re still unsure about? We’ll do our best to help!

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German Tenses: All You Need to Know

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First of all, what is a verb? 

Together with nouns, verbs are the most important part of any sentence. They’re words that we use to describe actions (singen – to sing), states of being (existieren – to exist), or occurrences (entwickeln – to develop). They have to agree with the subject, which represents who or what is performing the action. 

Basically, every type of sentence requires a verb to be complete. This is why it’s so important to give them due attention when learning a foreign language—especially German! Today, we’ll talk about German tenses and how to correctly apply them to verbs.

A Man Studying Using His Laptop

German verbs are one of the most challenging aspects of learning this beautifully complex language, but don’t worry. We’ll have a look at the main rules you need to know in order to use German verbs with no problems! 

In particular, we’ll look at the main verb tenses in German and how to conjugate them for both regular and irregular verbs. 

Does this all sound a bit complicated? Don’t worry. We’ll try to explain each concept thoroughly in the following paragraphs. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know how to form German tenses, when to use each one, and more!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. The Use of Tenses in German
  2. Present
  3. Past
  4. Future
  5. German Tenses: A Summary

1. The Use of Tenses in German

The tenses of a verb are used to express when an action takes place, so they make all the difference when talking about the three concepts of present, past, and future. 

In the German language, there are six main verb tenses:

1. Present (Präsens)

2. Present perfect (Perfekt)

3. Past simple (Imperfekt/Präteritum)

4. Past perfect (Plusquamperfekt)

5. Future (Futur I

6. Future perfect (Futur II)

Let’s look at each of these tenses in more detail with examples of how to conjugate them.

A Simple Clock against a White Background

2. Present 

The present tense, or Präsens in German, is the most used of all the German verb tenses. It can be used to talk about present actions or future actions that have already been determined. This tense can actually be used to express concepts in three equivalent English tenses: the present, the present continuous, and the future (“will” and “going to” constructions). 

We use the German Präsens to express…

  • …a fact or condition in the present, or an action that takes place in the present.

Das ist Andreas.
That’s Andreas.

Jeden Montag geht er zum Fußballtraining.
He goes to football training every Monday.

  • …an action that gives information on the duration of something. (Note that in this case, English uses the present perfect.)

Er spielt schon seit zwei Jahren Fußball.
He’s been playing football for two years.

  • …a future action that is already determined to happen. (In English, we can use the future or the present.)

Nächste Woche hat seine Mannschaft ein wichtiges Spiel.
His team will have an important match next week.

A Football Stadium

To conjugate regular verbs in the present tense, we simply remove the infinitive ending -en and add the following endings according to the subject:

Personal PronounPresent Tense EndingConjugation of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)-eich lerne
Du (You) [s]-stdu lernst
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)-ter / sie / es lernt
Wir (We)-enwir lernen
Ihr (You) [p]-tihr lernt
Sie (They)-ensie lernen

Remember, however, that verbs can be irregular. This is the case for two of the most used verbs in German: sein (to be) and haben (to have). Have a look at the table below to see their conjugation in the present tense:

Personal PronounSein (To Be)Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)binhabe
Du (You) [s]bisthast
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)isthat
Wir (We)sindhaben
Ihr (You) [p]seidhabt
Sie (They)sindhaben

3. Past

To convey events that happened in the past, we have three available tenses in German: the simple past, the present perfect, and the past perfect. Let’s look at when to use these and how to conjugate them!

A- Simple Past

In German, the simple past tense is usually referred to as Imperfekt or Präteritum, and it’s mainly used in writing. The majority of speakers prefer to use the present perfect instead, unless they’re trying to be formal or are telling a story. All the same, knowing this tense will be extremely useful if you want to be able to read books, magazines, and newspapers in German. 

All regular German verbs in the simple past follow the same pattern, so once you learn it, you’ll be able to conjugate all of them! 

To form the Präteritum, just remove the ending -en and add the following endings according to the subject: 

Personal PronounSimple Past Tense EndingConjugation of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)-teich lernte
Du (You) [s]-testdu lerntest
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)-teer lernte
Wir (We)-tenwir lernten
Ihr (You) [p]-tetihr lerntet
sie/Sie (They)-tensie lernten

Of course, there are still irregular verbs that do not follow this pattern—you’ll just have to recognize them and memorize their endings by heart! Don’t worry, though: with time and practice, this will come as second nature!

Here’s a table with the conjugations of sein (to be) and haben (to have) in the simple past tense. These verbs are often used not only in writing, but also in speaking. 

Personal PronounSimple Past of Sein (To Be)Simple Past of Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)warhatte
Du (You) [s]warsthattest
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)warhatte
Wir (We)warenhatten 
Ihr (You) [p]warthattet
Sie (They)warenhatten

Note that although haben is an irregular verb, it actually uses the same endings as regular verbs. It simply changes its stem from -b- to -t-. Verbs like this are called mixed verbs and, even though there aren’t many, they’ll stick in your mind for this peculiarity!

B- Present Perfect

Just like in English, the present perfect tense (Perfekt in German) is composed of two parts: 

1) The present tense of an auxiliary verb (“have” in English, haben or sein in German)

2) The past participle of the verb you’re conjugating (for example, “learned” or gelernt)

  • Ich habe gelernt. (I have learned.)

In German, we form the past participle by adding the prefix ge- to the third person singular.

  • Infinitive: lernen → Third person singular: er lernt → Past participle: gelernt

This works with all regular verbs. 

Usually, we choose haben as an auxiliary verb when forming the Perfekt. But if we’re describing a condition or a movement, or are conjugating the verb sein, we would use sein as the auxiliary verb. 

  • Wir sind in den Supermarkt gegangen. (We went to the supermarket.)
  • Sie ist gestern krank gewesen. (She was ill yesterday.)

A Couple at the Supermarket

Personal PronounPresent Perfect of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)habe gelernt
Du (You) [s]hast gelernt
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)hat gelernt
Wir (We)haben gelernt
Ihr (You) [p]habt gelernt
Sie (They)haben gelernt

Personal PronounPresent Perfect of Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)habe gehabt
Du (You) [s]hast gehabt
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)hat gehabt
Wir (We)haben gehabt
Ihr (You) [p]habt gehabt
Sie (They)haben gehabt

C- Past Perfect

The Plusquamperfekt (Past Perfect) expresses actions that took place before a given point in the past. It’s the German equivalent of the English past perfect tense (I had learned). We use this tense in storytelling, combined with the simple past, to talk about something that happened before a past event.

Like in English, we form it using the simple past of the auxiliary verb (“have” in English, haben or sein in German) and the past participle of the verb you’re conjugating (for example, “learned” or gelernt).

Personal PronounPast Perfect of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)hatte gelernt
Du (You) [s]hattest gelernt
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)hatte gelernt
Wir (We)hatten gelernt
Ihr (You) [p]hattet gelernt
Sie (They)hatten gelernt

Personal PronounPast Perfect of Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)hatte gehabt
Du (You) [s]hattest gehabt
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)hatte gehabt
Wir (We)hatten gehabt
Ihr (You) [p]hattet gehabt
Sie (They)hatten gehabt

4. Future

As we’ve mentioned, we can often use the present tense to talk about set events in the future. What happens, though, when we want to talk about an intention or an event in the future we’re not sure about?

In German, we have two future tenses: Futur I and Futur II.

A Woman Writing Something at a Wooden Desk with a Typewriter

A- Futur I

This tense is comparable to the English “I will ___” or “I am going to ___.”

In German, we use it to express:

  • A future intention
  • An assumption about the future
  • An assumption about the present

To conjugate it, we need the finite form of werden and the infinitive form of the verb.

Personal PronounFutur I of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)werde lernen
Du (You) [s]wirst lernen
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)wird lernen
Wir (We)werden lernen
Ihr (You) [p]werdet lernen
Sie (They)werden lernen

Personal PronounFutur I of Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)werde haben 
Du (You) [s]wirst haben 
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)wird haben 
Wir (We)werden haben 
Ihr (You) [p]werdet haben 
Sie (They)werden haben 

B- Future Perfect

The Futur II (future perfect) expresses the idea that an action will have been completed by a particular point in the future.

To form this tense, we need the finite form of werden, the past participle of the full verb, and the auxiliary verbs sein/haben.

Personal PronounFutur II of Lernen (To Learn)
Ich (I)werde gelernt haben
Du (You)wirst gelernt haben
Er/sie/es (He/she/it)wird gelernt haben
Wir (We)werden gelernt haben
Ihr (You plural)werdet gelernt haben
Sie (They)werden gelernt haben

Personal PronounFutur II of Haben (To Have)
Ich (I)werde gehabt haben
Du (You) [s]wirst gehabt haben
Er / Sie / Es (He / She / It)wird gehabt haben
Wir (We)werden gehabt haben
Ihr (You) [p]werdet gehabt haben
Sie (They)werden gehabt haben

5. German Tenses: A Summary

As you’ve seen, learning how to use verbs and verb tenses in German can be tricky, but it’s certainly one of the most important aspects of learning this beautiful and interesting language

We hope that this post helped you gain some insight into German tenses and how to use them properly to talk about the past, present, and future!

If you want to learn more about verbs and conjugations and have access to much more German learning material, visit GermanPod101.com. Here you’ll find lessons for all levels, grammar material, vocab lists, podcasts, dictionaries, blog posts, and more!

What are you waiting for? Start learning and practicing German with us—you’ll be able to master the use of German verbs and tenses in no time at all! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if this article helped you. Do you feel ready to tackle the challenge of German verb tenses, or do you still have questions? We look forward to hearing from you!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn German?

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What dedicated language learner could pass up an opportunity to spend endless days studying German and all its nuances? Unfortunately, in our society, time is money and the reality of things can be quite different. Most of us just don’t have the time to study languages at our leisure. 

Because time is such a constraint, there’s an important question to ask yourself before beginning to learn this beautiful language: How long does it take to learn German?

Mark Twain said: “A gifted person ought to learn English in 30 hours, French in 30 days and German in 30 years.” But it might not take quite that long!

I’m sure we all instinctively look for the fastest and easiest ways to learn new things. Being efficient with our time allows us to start practicing and using our new skills much sooner, so we can find a better job, travel abroad, or better communicate with a loved one. 

Learning a foreign language is always an amazing and fulfilling process, though often arduous. By learning to understand, speak, and think in a different language, we not only add a new skill to our repertoire but we also change the very way we see and interact with the world.

It’s understandable that you’d like to know for certain how long this marveolus language learning journey will take you, so that you could make plans and form solid expectations. The reality is, however, that there’s no one best way to learn German and there’s no set timetable for it! 

Everyone learns differently, and how long it takes to learn German will depend on many factors. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the factors that will affect your learning and how you can speed it up as much as possible!

Hourglass against a Dark Background
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Experience
  2. Learning Style
  3. Approach
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?
  5. How Our Website Can Help

Experience

One of the most important factors to take into account when considering how fast you can learn a language is your personal experience with languages

The Language(s) You Speak

What’s your native language? And what other languages do you speak? 

Yes, this might actually be a defining element in how quickly you’ll be able to pick up the German language. If you’re a native (or near-native) English speaker, you’re in luck! German and English actually share the same roots and forty percent of German vocabulary is similar to English vocabulary!

If you’re a native speaker of a Semitic language like Arabic, on the other hand, it might be a little trickier to learn German—but all the more challenging and rewarding! So, don’t be discouraged. Just be aware that your native English-speaking classmates might have a bit of a headstart…but that doesn’t mean they’ll learn it better than you!

Several Language Learning Textbooks

Your Previous Language Learning Experience

Have you ever learned another language before?

If you already speak a foreign language fluently, or were raised bilingual, it may be easier and quicker for you to learn German. Several studies have now proven that bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language. This is because they already have experience learning and using a second language, and are thus more accustomed to the entire process.

Even if you’re not bilingual, having studied and learned a foreign language at some point in your life will help. Having fluency and skill in one language will help you gain fluency and skill in another, even if the two languages are unrelated! 

Your Previous Grammar Knowledge

One of the first steps in learning a foreign language is finding out how it’s built and how it works. This is usually done by studying its structure and grammar. 

If you already have some experience studying grammar and syntax, even in your native language, it will be much easier for you to study the grammar and syntax of a foreign language. 

So, if you plan to start learning German (or another language!), it’s a good idea to have some grammar foundations to build on!

An Asian Woman Studying German

Learning Style

The way you learn and study is another essential aspect that may affect how long it will take you to become fluent in German. 

Your Methods

If you limit your learning to a classroom setting, even if you show up every day, it will probably take you a little longer to learn and feel confident using your language skills. Try to expose yourself to German outside the classroom (or online lesson) and you’ll cut down the time it takes you to learn it! 

Try reading German newspapers, watching films and series in German, and even listening to German podcasts while you drive or cook. Of course, finding a language partner to practice conversing with will also go a long way toward making you fluent faster! 

Your Time

There’s another aspect we haven’t mentioned yet, but it’s the most important of all when asking yourself how long it takes to learn German: The time you dedicate to it!

If you want to learn fast, try to dedicate as much time to learning as you can. 

Daily practice is ideal, and research has actually proven that learners who dedicate an hour a day to language learning—whether studying grammar, memorizing new words, watching a film, or reading a book—learn significantly faster than those who just attend weekly classes. 

And of course, if it’s an option for you, full immersion is best. If you can travel to Germany and live there for a while, that will make a big difference!

A Christmas Market in Germany

Approach

This is quite possibly the game-changer that will determine how fast you learn German. It can really make a massive difference!  

Your Motivation

It really is no secret that staying motivated is essential for learning a foreign language. Why do you want to learn German?

Have this clear in your mind and set weekly (or even daily) goals for maximum efficiency. This will help you stay motivated and interested in learning, and you can remind yourself every day why you’re learning this beautiful language. 

Your Attitude

Keeping your motivation up will make you feel like you’re learning more efficiently, and it will help you maintain a positive attitude during your language learning journey! 

It’s key to see learning as a fun and interesting activity that you’re choosing to do, and not a chore that you’re forced to do.

A Man Expressing Victory

Remember that learning a new language will open your mind and your horizons, and it will give you a great set of skills you can use in your day-to-day life. 

When you think this way, you’ll feel like learning something new every day and the process will be more enjoyable and much faster! 

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?

So, let’s get to the point. Even though it’s hard to say for sure, we’ve tried to make an estimate of how long it might take you to reach a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level of German. 

Beginner

A beginner speaker of a language will be able to introduce themselves, understand slow and simple spoken language, and ask basic questions (probably making some mistakes along the way!). 

This level is probably enough if you just want…

  • …to be able to greet people. 
  • …to order a meal at the restaurant
  • …to understand when someone talks to you slowly and carefully. 
  • …some basic reading skills. 

You’ll be able to do all these things after about 180-200 hours (level A2) of German classes. This means that if you’re motivated and willing to put in 10-15 hours a week, you can travel to Germany without any worries in just over three months! 

So get studying now, and you’ll soon be having some basic conversations with native speakers!

Intermediate

If you reach an intermediate level, you’ll be able to understand everyday conversation (if spoken clearly), even if you have to ask some questions here and there to keep up. This level will also allow you to… 

  • …watch videos and read the news without major problems understanding the main points. 
  • ask for and follow directions
  • …have basic interactions with locals about familiar subjects. 

We estimate that to achieve an intermediate level in German, you’ll need around 350 hours of study. This means that, if you dedicate around 15 hours a week to practicing your German, you’ll be able to reach this level in just six months! 

Advanced

If you want to achieve fluency, this is what you’re aiming for: advanced language skills. With this level, you’ll basically be able to… 

  • navigate any kind of situation that may arise in your daily life or while traveling.
  • …have in-depth conversations with native speakers. 
  • watch movies without subtitles.
  • …read books in German with no problem.

You’ll be fluent! (Even if there will always be something more to learn about this intricate and beautifully complex language…)

A Woman Studying Late at Night

So, how long do you need to learn German if you want to reach this level of fluency? 

According to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you’ll need about 750 hours of study to become fluent in German. This means that if you study 12-15 hours a week, you’ll be able to speak like a pro in just a year! 

If this seems like a long time, take into account that harder languages like Japanese or Arabic may take up to 2200 hours, three times longer than German!

How Our Website Can Help

What are you waiting for? The right time to start learning a new language is now! 

The sooner you start learning, the faster you’ll achieve your language objectives and start speaking German. 

As you consider your options (and the world’s ongoing pandemic), you might wonder how to learn German online. GermanPod101 is a great place to start! 

To keep you motivated and interested (and to make your language learning adventure easy to navigate), we offer all kinds of language learning content on GermanPod101.com. Here you’ll find lessons for all levels, as well as vocabulary lists, dictionaries, and blog posts. 

Above all, how long it takes to learn German just depends on how much time you’re willing to invest. Our courses and resources are specifically designed to give you all the right tools to learn German as quickly and easily as possible, so that your precious time is well-spent!

Whether you’re a beginner who wants a full immersion experience or an advanced speaker who just needs to refine your skills, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Before you go, let us know in the comments if this article helped you! Do you feel ready to tackle the challenge of learning German? We look forward to hearing from you!

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30 German Proverbs and Idioms to Speak Like a Native

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Proverbs are popular sayings that provide a little dose of wisdom—a truth that is, sometimes, so obvious that it’s overlooked. 

If you really want your language skills to shine, knowing some popular German proverbs is a great way to start. And of course, it will also help you fit in with the German locals and better understand their culture!

The German City of Bremen

In Germany, there’s a great variety of wisdom-infusing sayings—whether we’re talking about a lot of sausages, some bears and rabbits running around in forests, or some serious-sounding, deep stuff! 

As we say, “There is no time like the present.” So let’s get to it. These thirty popular German proverbs will add versatility and color to your spoken language, so that even locals will mistake you for a native.


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. 6 Funny German Proverbs
  2. 8 German Proverbs About Food and Drinks
  3. 6 German Proverbs Related to Nature
  4. 10 Beautifully Wise German Proverbs
  5. Conclusion

1. 6 Funny German Proverbs

Let’s face it, Germans are not known for being the most humorous people in the world… I can assure you, though, that they do have some pretty funny proverbs they like to use! 

Laughter is the best medicine,” we say in English, so let’s start by having a look at some lighthearted German-language proverbs and idioms!

Wer rastet, der rostet.

Literal translation: He who rests grows rusty.
English equivalent: You snooze, you lose.

To remain true to their engineering and car-building reputation, when Germans get lazy or inactive…they get rusty! This will make it harder to start being productive again. 

Krummes Holz gibt auch gerades Feuer.

Literal translation: Crooked logs also make straight fires.

If you’re cold during the German winter, crooked logs will be just fine…no need to find perfect ones. So stop looking for perfection and make do with what’s available!

People with Christmas socks getting warm in front of a fire

Des Teufels liebstes Möbelstück ist die lange Bank.

Literal translation: The devil’s favorite piece of furniture is the long bench.
English equivalent: Never leave until tomorrow what you can do today.

In German, to put something “on the long bench” means to put it off until later. This proverb warns us to be careful about procrastination, because you don’t want to mess with the devil’s favorite piece of furniture!

It also has an alternative version, closer to the English equivalent: Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen. (Literally: “What you can get done today, don’t move it until tomorrow.”) 

Selbst ist der Mann. / Selbst ist die Frau.

A Man Holding a Drill

Literal translation: Self is the man. / Self is the woman.
English equivalent: Self do, self have.

This is your proverb if you like DIY. Say it to yourself (or to a friend) after you’ve managed to do something without help from anyone. It’s pretty empowering!

Ich kriege so eine Krawatte. / Ich kriege so (dicken) einen Hals.

Literal translation: I get such a tie! / I get such (thick) a neck.
English equivalent: It really annoys me / winds me up!

Both variants are often accompanied by the gesture of putting a hand around one’s own neck.

In Germany, apparently, you get a necktie or a thick neck when something annoys you. Personally, I do understand the comparison…do you?

Bis über beide Ohren verliebt sein.

Literal translation: To be over both ears in love!
English equivalent: To be head over heels in love.

Just change the head and heels for both of your ears, and it means you’ve found someone really, really special!

2. 8 German Proverbs About Food and Drinks

Food might not be the first thing you think about when planning a trip to Germany, but the country has as much of a food culture as anywhere else in Europe. The cuisine is tasty, original, and different in every region.

A Plate of German Food

As you can imagine, you’ll find a lot of sausage-related idioms. But you’ll also find German food proverbs talking about cookies, soups, and (of course) beer! 

Die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen.

Literal translation: To play the offended liver sausage.

This one could actually have been in the previous section, but here it is: If you’re behaving like an offended liver sausage, it means you’re throwing a tantrum or overreacting to something. The good thing is that being called a liver sausage might make you forget what you were on about, and just laugh it out!

Der Hunger kommt beim Essen.

Literal translation: Appetite emerges while eating.

According to this proverb, you’ll only realize how hungry you are after you’ve started eating. But the proverb can apply to other things, too. For example, do you want to learn German but don’t feel so hungry for it? Start learning and the appetite will come!

Sich die Wurst vom Brot nehmen lassen

Literal translation: To let someone take the sausage off your bread

This is a warning to stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone take the sausage off your bread. You’re too good to be taken advantage of. 

Das ist mir Wurst.

Literal translation: That is sausage to me.

I warned you about the sausage content, so don’t complain. If something is ‘sausage to you,’ it means you couldn’t care less about it! (Which is strange, as Germans do seem to care about sausages…)

Um den heißen Brei herumreden

Literal translation: To talk around the hot soup/porridge
English equivalent: To beat around the bush

Well, what do you do when the soup’s hot and you can’t eat it just yet? This phrase is used when someone is talking and talking, without ever getting to the point. 

Du gehst mir auf den Keks.

Literal translation: You’re getting on my cookies.
English equivalent: You’re getting on my nerves.

Use this phrase when someone annoys you, as if you were eating a cookie and they tried to take it out of your hands!

Das ist nicht mein Bier.

Beer in a Mug

Literal translation: That’s not my beer.
English equivalent: That’s not my business.

This phrase is used when you don’t want to get involved in something you have nothing to do with. Not your beer, not your problem!

Dienst ist Dienst und Schnaps ist Schnaps.

Literal translation: Work is work and liquor is liquor.

Germans are known to be very diligent workers…but there’s no mixing of business and pleasure! Everything has its time. So work hard, play hard!

3. 6 German Proverbs Related to Nature 

If you’ve been to Germany, you’ll certainly know how important it is for the locals to spend some time in touch with nature. This is reflected in the proverbs they use in their daily lives. 

Bears, horses, rabbits, and forests…here we come!

Da steppt der Bär.

A Black Bear in a Tree

Literal translation: There steps the bear.

You can use this phrase when referring to a party you really want to go to. If even the bears will start dancing, it means it’s gonna be good! Be careful, though, as it’s often used sarcastically!

Wenn der Reiter nichts taugt, ist das Pferd schuld.

Literal translation: If the rider is no good, it’s the horse’s fault.
English equivalent: A bad workman always blames his tools.

Someone who has done their job poorly will always try to blame it on outside circumstances (in this case, poor horses), rather than admit their lack of skills. 

Wer zwei Hasen auf einmal jagt bekommt keinen.

Literal translation: He who chases two rabbits at once will catch none.
English equivalent: He who follows two hares catches neither.

Concentrate on one task at a time, or you’ll end up not doing either of them properly.

Kümmere Dich nicht um ungelegte Eier.

Literal translation: Don’t worry about eggs that haven’t been laid yet.
English equivalent: Don’t cross your bridges before you come to them.

In other words, don’t worry about problems before they arrive. Be them eggs or bridges, just chill for now. 

Du siehst den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht.

Literal translation: You don’t see the forest for all the trees.

Several Trees in the Forest

This is something along the lines of the Zen proverb: “When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.” Look beyond and see the bigger picture! And also, don’t think too much; just see what’s there, the obvious!

Bäume wachsen nicht in den Himmel.

Literal translation: No trees grow into the sky. 

This German saying suggests that there are natural limits to growth and improvement. So actually, don’t reach for the sky…

4. 10 Beautifully Wise German Proverbs

This is the longest list, so let’s admit it: Germans are pretty wise. Yes, they like to be funny sometimes, enjoy their food and drink, and love to spend time in nature. But when it comes to philosophical statements, they have no rivals! 

After all, German philosophers and thinkers are some of the most famous around the world. It’s easy to see why, if they’ve grown up repeating these beautiful German sayings. 

Let’s look at some of these German proverbs and their meanings in English. (Although they just sound wiser spoken in German!)

Aller Anfang ist schwer.

Literal translation: All beginnings are hard.

This one is pretty self-explanatory: Beginnings can be very hard, but it will get easier.

Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.

A Man Studying Late at Night

Literal translation: Starting is easy, persistence is an art.

Hmm…apparently, starting can be the easy part and keeping it up the hard bit. Let’s say it depends on the situation! 

Man muss die Dinge nehmen, wie sie kommen.

Literal translation: You have to take things the way they come.

We all know life never happens exactly as we expect it to. So relax, and try to accept whatever comes. Make the best of it, rather than always wishing for things to be different. 

Übung macht den Meister.

Literal translation: Practice is what makes a master.
English equivalent: Practice makes perfect.

Practice, practice, practice! It’s the only way to master virtually anything. 

Wer A sagt, muss auch B sagen.

Literal translation: He who says A also has to say B.

If you commit to something, commit all the way!

Taten sagen mehr als Worte.

Literal translation: Actions say more than words.
English equivalent: Actions speak louder than words.

In German, actions don’t necessarily speak louder…they’re just more chatty!

Aus Schaden wird man klug.

Literal translation: Failure makes smart.

Nobody likes to screw up, but failure is necessary for learning. If you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never get better!

Das Billige ist immer das Teuerste.

Literal translation: The cheapest is always the most expensive.

This is a philosophical way of inviting you to invest in quality, and not only in terms of money. If something is too cheap or too easy to get, it will probably end up costing you much more later on!

Erst denken, dann handeln.

Literal translation: First think, then act.

Wise and clear. Think before you act!

Gut Ding will Weile haben.

Literal translation: Good things take time.

If you’re an impatient person, we have bad news for you. Germans believe that if you want something to be done well, you need to wait for it. In other words: take your time, enjoy the process, and don’t rush things! 

5. Conclusion

“All good things must come to an end.”

But it’s not really the end, is it? There’s so much more to learn about the German language! 

As they say, “Practice makes perfect.” So keep practicing your German skills on GermanPod101.com! With all the features we offer (podcasts, videos with transcriptions, word lists, a dictionary, and more), you’ll pick up this beautiful and interesting language in no time. 

And remember: What makes a master? Practice, practice, practice!

Which of these German proverbs or idioms is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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Visit Berlin: The Top 10 Places to Walk, Learn, and Relax

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Have you ever visited a city filled with an eclectic mix of cultures, history, and wonderful sights, as well as a vibrant creative life? If the answer is no, then you should start thinking about a trip to the German capital. Even John F. Kennedy, the U.S. President, loved it! 

“All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ [I am a Berliner!]”

But really, why should you visit Berlin? Imagine a hub of history, art, music, and graffiti that attracts millions of tourists annually. Sounds pretty good, right? Follow our Berlin travel guide and rest assured you’ll have an incredible experience. 

We’ll keep it short by describing only the top ten places to visit in Berlin (but don’t worry, you’ll get a bit of everything).

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Table of Contents
  1. When to Visit Berlin
  2. What to Visit in Berlin
  3. Survival German
  4. Conclusion

When to Visit Berlin

In addition to choosing the best sites to visit in Berlin, it’s essential to pick the right season! 

Winters can be really chilly (quite literally freezing!), so the best time to visit Berlin is from May to October. But if freezing temperatures don’t scare you, you can also visit Berlin in winter to experience the lovely capital city during Christmas!

Try to travel during May or June if you want long summer days and more clement weather. September and October will be ideal if you prefer less-crowded museums and streets! 

What to Visit in Berlin

One last thing before we head to our Berlin travel guide: 

Before starting your Berlin adventures (with your shiny-new German vocab), keep in mind that the city is huge! 

It’s five times bigger than Paris (even though it has only a quarter of the population) and, since it was divided for so long, there are a lot of mini-centers scattered throughout the city… It can take up to thirty or forty-five minutes to travel from place to place, so plan your days well!

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best places to visit in Berlin.

1. Museum Island

The Museum Island (Museumsinsel in German) is a complex located in the historical middle of the city—the Mitte—on the northern part of the Spree Island. As you can guess by its name, the island is home to multiple world-renowned museums, including the Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Bode Museum, and the Alte Nationalgalerie. This makes it one of the most instructive and interesting places to visit in Berlin. 

If you like learning about history, archaeology, and art, you could spend a whole week wandering around this amazing complex of museums in Berlin, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Mitte, even though it’s very touristy (and not the most authentic location in Berlin) still offers a bit of everything. Once you’re done checking out the museums, you can stop by one of the area’s cafes or restaurants for a quick bite and caffeine boost, shop for souvenirs to take home, or check out the local clubs.

While there, you can also visit the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), which is located right next to the Altes Museum. Like so many other buildings in Berlin, a bomb destroyed it during WWII. However, its restoration started in 1975 and, even though it took a good while (it was only completed in 2002), the result is surely impressive! You can enjoy its façade, navigate its immense interior, or even climb up to the dome to marvel at the beautiful sights of central Berlin from above.

2. The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer)

You can’t go to the German capital without paying a visit to the Berlin Wall…or at least what’s left of it! The Berlin Wall divided the city in two for twenty-eight years until it was finally brought down in 1989. 

One of the most famous places to visit in Berlin, the Memorial at Bernauer Strasse is an open-air exhibition that chronicles the wall’s history and displays an entire mile of the original wall. Here, you’ll learn about how the wall divided the capital and affected its citizens.

3. East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery

If the Berlin Wall Memorial wasn’t enough, and you want to learn more about the history of this city and the wall that shaped the lives of its citizens for almost thirty years, I strongly suggest that you also visit the East Side Gallery. 

Here you’ll find the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall…but it’s not just a wall anymore! It has become one of the world’s largest open-air galleries. 

Its colorful artworks, painted right on the wall by a huge range of international artists, are based on themes of freedom, anti-oppression, and political satire, bringing recent history to life. 

The gallery is located in an open public space and it’s accessible at all times. Just behind the gallery, you’ll find a small lawnfield with access to the Spree River, where you can take a rest after your exhausting day.  This area is definitely one of the best sites to visit in Berlin!

4. Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

The Brandenburg Gate (Branderburger Tor) was once a gate into the city. Today, it’s one of the top attractions in Berlin and a great emblem of peace. 

Designed in 1791, the Neoclassical gate stands 26 meters (about 85 feet) high and was inspired by the acropolis of Athens. The original sculpture was actually destroyed during World War II, and then replaced in 1969 by an exact replica made in West Germany. 

The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most important symbols of Berlin and it offers one of the best views of the city, by both day and night.

The Brandenburg Gate is located at the Pariser Platz (Paris Square), where you can find many embassies. Directly next to the Brandenburg Gate, you’ll find the American and French embassies; go farther down the street, and you’ll also come across Russian and British embassies. 

Also, fans of pop music can visit the Adlon Kempinski Hotel, located right in front of the Brandenburg Gate. This is where Michael Jackson once presented his youngest child to the public.

5. Unten Der Linden

This boulevard, the name of which literally translates as “under the Linden trees,” is one of the main arteries and favorite avenues of Berlin. 

Brandenburg Gate is the perfect starting point to visit this avenue, which stretches for 1.5 km (just under a mile) to reach Schlossbrücke (Castle Bridge). Some of the city’s most important buildings and landmarks are located in the area.

You can take a blissful walk along the boulevard, which will take you through Pariser Platz. You’ll find the magnificent Neue Wache and the public square Bebelplatz, which is home to the Berlin State Opera, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Roman Catholic St. Hedwig’s Cathedral. Next, you’ll reach Schlossbrücke, a bridge that leads to Museum Island.

6. Mauerpark

A Large Karaoke Event at Mauerpark

If you’re visiting Berlin over the weekend, Mauerpark is a destination you shouldn’t miss. Every Sunday, Berlin’s most famous Flohmarkt (flea market) takes place here, filled with antics, used clothes, hip brands, and food tracks offering food from all around the world! 

If you’re lucky, you’ll also experience an open-air karaoke at the amphitheatre located next to the flea market, where people gather to sing their favorite songs in front of dozens of people. If you’re not interested in karaoke, you can also listen to professional musicians practicing and playing throughout the park.

It’s a great place to go, even if you can’t make it on Sunday. On sunny days, the park is usually full of people having picnics, spraying graffiti, or playing basketball in the designated areas.

One more thing we haven’t mentioned yet: The park has a little slope which offers a beautiful view over Berlin’s skyline. And—this is the best part—on top of the slopes, you’ll find swings that literally allow you to swing above Berlin’s roofs!

7. The Holocaust Memorial (Holocaust-Mahnmal)

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is another place you must visit in Berlin. As you can tell by its name, it commemorates one of the saddest episodes of WWII

The memorial itself is an architectural gem that challenges the very notion of commemorative monuments. It’s made up of 2,711 concrete slabs of various heights that, placed next to each other, create numerous passages for visitors to walk through. 

The information center is located underneath the monument, on the southeast side. Here, you can learn about the National Socialism movement and the extermination policies carried out between 1933 and 1945. You will also be able to read the Holocaust testimonies of numerous persecuted Jews and learn about their stories before, during, and after the torment.

8. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

If you feel like you want to learn more about the Holocaust at this point, and you want to get away from the city for a little while, this is a must-see location. It’s located in Oranienburg and is accessible via a one-and-a-half hour train ride from the station Lichtenberg in the eastern part of Berlin.

Sachsenhausen (KZ Sachsenhausen) was one of the most prominent death camps in Nazi Germany. More than 200,000 prisoners were kept here from 1936 to 1945.

What’s special about this place is that, three months after WWII ended, it became a Soviet Special Camp used to lock away Nazi prisoners and political prisoners who did not agree with the Soviet Union ideals. As you explore the facility, you’ll surely feel a shiver go down your spine as you discover the atrocities committed by both parties over the years. It is surely an instructive and moving experience.

9. The Reichstag Building

This historic building is the seat of the German Parliament (German Bundestag). Established in 1894, it has a classical façade crowned by a large modern dome. As it’s located on the border of East Berlin, the Reichstag was separated from the Brandenburg Gate by the Berlin Wall for nearly twenty-nine years. 

In 1990, it was restored by Norman Foster and quickly became one of the most iconic symbols of Berlin.

Today, the area around the Reichstag Building became a governmental district. One of the other more-prominent buildings that can be found in the area is the Kanzleramt (Chancellor Office), which faces the Reichstag Building.

10. Tiergarten

Last but not least, take some time to reflect on all you’ve seen and learned in Berlin, and take a deep breath in one of the most beautiful parks in the German capital.

Tiergarten (literally: animal garden) is the perfect spot to temporarily step into nature and get away from the bustling city. 

You can enjoy a picnic, lie in the sun (maybe even in the company of a squirrel, if you’re lucky!), or get lost in walking meditation on one of its many pathways…

Survival German

Now that you have a better idea of where you want to visit on your trip to Berlin, it’s time to answer a key question: Can you visit Berlin without speaking German?

While most people in Berlin will understand and speak some English, there are a lot of day-to-day interactions you’ll need to face in order to make your itinerary happen. You never know when you’ll need to use some German, so I’ll leave you with some German survival phrases just in case! 

Good day!
Guten Tag! (gooh-ten tahk!)

Good evening!
Guten Abend! (gooh-ten ah-bent!)

Goodbye!
Auf Wiedersehen! (ouf vee-der-zey-en!)

Please. / You’re welcome.
Bitte. (bi-te)

Thank you.
Danke. (dân-ke)

Excuse me.
Entschuldigung. (ênt-shool-dee-goong)

My name is…
Ich heiße… (iH hays-e…)

Pleased to meet you.
Freut mich. (froyt miH)

Conclusion

I hope this Berlin travel guide will make it easier for you to enjoy all that the vibrant and diverse city of Berlin has to offer. Which location on this list do you most want to visit, and why? 

Remember, if you want to feel like a real Berliner while you explore the most interesting places in the German capital, knowing a little German will surely help! Once you attain a strong level of spoken German, it’ll be easy for you to talk with locals and make your adventure even more unforgettable.

You can achieve this through the language podcasts, videos with transcripts, word lists, and more that GermanPod101.com provides. Create your free lifetime account today to start learning German in the fastest, easiest, and most fun way possible.

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