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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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What’s with All The English Words in German?

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German learners often have to put up with native speakers who only ever speak English to them.

After all, if you go up to a stranger in Berlin and start speaking English only, there’s a good chance you’ll hear English in response – often quite fluent English at that!

But it’s not enough that you have to speak excellent German in order to get people to speak German with you at all.

You’ve got to speak the right amount of English as well. Hence, our English words in German list. 

You see, if you’re going to take part in German society at this point in the 21st century, you’ve got to reckon with the fact that Germans are international enough to already speak English at a high level.

German-speakers from Cologne to Zurich can even be found sprinkling choice English turns of phrase into their speech with other Germans! In fact, this is a phenomenon so widespread that it even has its own name: Denglish, from Deutsch + English.

Most media coverage of Denglish is either heavily critical of the whole concept or just goes over a couple of words you should be aware of. However, it’s not going away, and so it’s better to learn it well when you can!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Denglish
  2. Denglish Examples
  3. Loan Words vs. Denglish
  4. How These Names are Said in German
  5. English Words Derived From German
  6. Conclusion

Introduction to Denglish

Many Different Books

German and English are, of course, related languages. They’re both part of the West Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, and there’s a ton of shared vocabulary between the two languages just by virtue of this part of their history. Adapting English words to German doesn’t often take a lot of mental gymnastics.

However, there’s a distinct difference between these “old roots” and new English borrowings into German. 

German was actually a really well-respected international language of science and philosophy for many centuries in Europe, surpassing the English language in popularity in many aspects. 

It wasn’t until around the 1960s to the 1980s that English started becoming the “international language” even in Germany. This took shape slowly, but by the time of the fall of the Berlin wall, many West Germans were regularly using English words in their conversations even with other Germans. After the wall fell, everyone started following suit. 

Today, English is still seen as quite prestigious in German culture. Many Germans take pride in the fact that a majority of the population can speak English well enough to get by – plus at least one other language thanks to the German primary and secondary education systems

That’s not even counting the influence of the Internet. Although German is well-represented on YouTube, the sheer amount of English-langauge content overpowers it on Youtube, Instagram, and other social media. Just from interacting with this kind of media, Germans get comfortable with plenty of English words and they even feel comfortable introducing them back into their own informal German use.

Today, a mixture of German and English (or Denglish) is no longer the mark of imperfect German or English that it once was. It’s a cultural marker. 

Denglish Examples

A Woman Looking Down at Her Cell Phone and Smiling

With all this adoption into the German language, you might expect that these words would be preserved in their original meanings as a mark of difference from German. Although that’s often the case, it also happens that the opposite occurs: a word comes originally from English but has shifted its meaning after being adopted into German. 

Probably the best-known example of that phenomenon is the word das Handy. This is clearly an English word in origin as German words don’t end in -y like that, but instead of an adjective meaning “useful,” this word is a noun meaning “mobile phone.” And it’s not like how in English people refer to your “phone,” your “cell phone,” or your “mobile” – it’s all Handy, all the time. Many Germans even insist to English speakers that the word must be the same in English too!

Up next is the word das or der Evergreen, meaning “classic song that never goes out of style.” The German word for “a tree that is green all year” is actually a direct translation of the English – immergrün.

In the same vein, the word der Oldtimer refers to a classic car, not an old person – that’s an alter Hase “old rabbit.”

This extends to verbs as well. Trampen means “to hitchhike,” which makes sense if you’re familiar with older literature about people riding the rails (probably where the term came from!) and anturnen does not mean to turn something on, but is a word meaning “to get hyped.”

Another common way of implementing English words into German is creating compound words out of an English and a German word. This might sound like creating a Frankenstein monster, although due to the relation between English and German, this works actually fine. An example of such a word is die Teamarbeit or “teamwork,” which consists from the English word “team,” and the German word Arbeit meaning “work.” 

Loan Words vs. Denglish

A Manager Smiling and Standing in Front of Some Office Workers

In German, there are also a ton of words borrowed directly from English, often with the English pronunciation kept totally intact. These loan words have the same meaning in German and English and would be understood by listeners even without any German knowledge.

And in fact, there are hundreds.

Plenty of them pop up in the business world as trendy alternatives to pure German words. One such example of an outdated word is die Besprechung which has been replaced in the business jargon by its English equivalent – “meeting.” 

In the same way, die Leitung has turned into der Manager

You can take a bunch of English verbs related to computers and e-mail and simply conjugate them as if they were German to begin with – so you’ll have googlen, forwarden, clicken, downloaden, and so on instead of what you might find in a dictionary. A lot of Germans find this really annoying, but it really does happen all the time. Just check out a couple of German YouTube channels to see how people talk about tech and software in German, since there’s not really any textbook that can help you with this kind of vocabulary.

How These Names are Said in German

Someone Playing a Playstation with a Blue Controller

Interestingly enough, most pop culture from other countries is dubbed into German instead of just coming with subtitles. Dubbing is a huge deal in German film culture, and usually one actor sticks with a single dubbing target for their entire career.

Because of this, movie and TV series titles are localized into German in their entirety, as it’d be a bit weird to have a whole cast and high-quality dubbing but with a foreign-language title.

Star Wars becomes Krieg der Sterne “War of the Stars” while Lord of the Rings is translated directly as Herr der Ringe. Many German learners have loved Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen “the Philosopher’s Stone,” in both book and movie formats.

Fun fact: Sometimes Germans tend also to keep English names, since it appears “cool,” but they would change the name for the German market. So in Germany you won’t find for example Marvels “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” but instead you can watch “The Return of the First Avenger.”

These cool-sounding German names are unfortunately the exception rather than the rule. For quite some time in the 1980s through the 2000s, German dubs came with totally different titles from the original films – so the Dreamworks Animation classic “A Bug’s Life” ended up as Das große Krabbeln “the big crawling!”

Brand names such as Starbucks, McDonalds, and Burger King are simply spoken as normal German words, with German accents of course. Sometimes, a brand like “Xbox One” will be said exactly as it is in English, but the “Playstation 4” would be pronounced as Playstation Vier. There’s not really a system to this; it’s just something you have to pick up over time.

English Words Derived From German

German Apple Strudel with a Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream

The exchange of ideas and vocabulary didn’t just happen in one direction between the English and German languages. Thanks to a great deal of migration from Europe to the United States in the 19th century, many Americans can trace their roots back to the German Old Country, and with it their heritage languages as well.

Although there has been cultural exchange between Germans and residents of other English-speaking countries, Americans seem to have picked up the most words related to German food.

Therefore, everybody from New York to Los Angeles knows that a Strudel is a pastry with fruit filling, a Bratwurst is a barbecued sausage, a bagel is a round and chewy roll with a hole in the middle, a pretzel (originally Brezel) is a long and thin piece of sourdough tied in a knot, and a delicatessen is where you go to buy all of these things!

Philosophy and sociology have benefited from German terms as well, such as übermensch or “superman,” or wunderkind “gifted child.” Even the everyday word Kindergarten comes from German, literally meaning “child garden!”

Conclusion

Earlier in this article we said that there isn’t really a good way to study Denglish. And it’s true, you won’t find many resources that treat it seriously.

This is even a good thing, because anyone who compiles a serious dictionary at this point is going to regret it a few years later when dozens of terms have become outdated and dozens of new ones have entered the language.

The best way to keep on top of these trends, therefore, is to attain a good level in German with a high-quality and holistic German resource like GermanPod101.com.

In addition to providing helpful grammar guides and cultural notes, GermanPod101 will get you ready to tackle real-life German and real-life Denglish as well! Try it out today and see how accessible all forms of the language can be!

How many of these English words in German were you surprised to find on this list? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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The Best German Quotes To Spice Up Your Conversations

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German is a language with a long history of great writing. It’s no wonder that there are a lot of excellent quotes that have been passed down through the centuries!

In order to help you become a more eloquent German speaker, GermanPod101 has compiled a list of the best German quotes in several different categories. 

As you study these quotes, you’ll also start to make important connections concerning the grammatical structures being used. The end result? You’ll pick up German grammar without even realizing it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Friendship
  6. Quotes About Food
  7. Quotes About Health
  8. Quotes About Language Learning
  9. Quotes About Football
  10. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Success

A Rabbit Lying in the Snow

He who chases two rabbits at once will catch none.

Whether you have big plans for the future or a few concerns about an upcoming project, you’ll find motivation and inspiration in these German quotes about success!

  • Erst denken, dann handeln. / “First think, then act.”

This first quote needs little explanation—it fits perfectly into the English sentence’s framework. 

  • Taten sagen mehr als Worte. / “Deeds say more than words.”

In English, actions “speak louder than” words; in German, they simply talk more. Remember the comparative structure mehr als (“more than”), as you’ll definitely need it in the future!

  • Wer zwei Hasen auf einmal jagt, bekommt keinen. / “He who chases two rabbits at once will catch none.”

This is a particularly evocative quote if you imagine the wide-open fields of Austria or Switzerland, with rabbits hopping about every which way. If you spend your time switching between your goals, you’ll never catch up to any of them. Could this have something to do with language learning, too?


2. Quotes About Life

What does ‘life’ mean to you? Broaden your horizons with these German quotes about life, and gain some cultural insight.

  • Wenn die Menschen nur über das sprächen, was sie begreifen, dann würde es sehr still auf der Welt sein. / “If people only talked about things they understand, then it would be very quiet in the world.”

Now that you’re learning German, you can finally start quoting Einstein in the original! Yes, this quote is attributed to German-Swiss patent clerk Albert Einstein, and it reflects his well-known traits of curiosity and valuing all people equally.

  • Man reist nicht, um anzukommen, sondern um zu reisen. / “One does not travel to arrive, but to travel.”

Perhaps even more so than quoting Einstein, quoting Goethe is bound to win you points among Germans who know their literature. This quote holds up well, even after several hundred years!

  • Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer man tut es. / “There is nothing good, if you don’t do it.” 

This quote comes from Erich Kästner, one of the most talented German children’s book authors. It might sound very pessimistic at the beginning, but Kästner is saying that you should spread the good things in the world—no one will do it for you.

3. Quotes About Time

Quail Eggs in a Nest

Don’t worry about eggs that haven’t been laid yet.

Time is what binds us to our own mortality, and it’s the topic of many German language quotes. Read through the sayings below and get a better idea of how time is perceived in Germany.

  • Kümmere Dich nicht um ungelegte Eier. / “Don’t worry about eggs that haven’t been laid yet.”

On the surface, this quote might sound similar to “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” But sich kümmern um is a verb construction meaning “worry about” or “be concerned with.” So what this quote really means is that you shouldn’t spend your time thinking about things that are outside of your control.

  • Ehre die Alten, verspotte sie nie. Sie waren wie du und du wirst wie sie. / “Honor your elders, never make fun. They were like you and you’ll be like them.”

It doesn’t quite rhyme in English, but in German, it’s an excellent little couplet that you could imagine being said by a kindly old grandmother. Verspotten is a rather rare word, meaning “to mock” or “to jeer at someone.”

4. Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these German quotes on love!

  • Wenn ein Mann sofort macht, was eine Frau will, bekommt er nicht mehr Liebe, sondern mehr Aufträge. / “When a man immediately does what a woman wants, he doesn’t receive love, but more orders.”

This pithy quote is attributed to the actor Stefan Schwartz, a well-known recurring actor in the famous crime drama Tatort. The word Auftrag (“order”) here denotes the sense of assignments or military orders, which is exactly the sentiment we think Stefan was going for!

  • Liebe ist, wenn aus dem ich und du ein wir entsteht. / “Love is when you and I form a ‘we’.”

The essence of this German quote is preserved in the translation, though this cannot be said of the structure. Aus… entstehen means that out of something else, a second thing arises or forms. In the English translation, it’s an active verb (“we form”), but in German, it happens spontaneously. Also note that in German, the articles are used: out of the “you and I,” a “we” comes to be.

  • Liebe ist der Wunsch etwas zu geben, nicht etwas zu erhalten. / “Love is the wish to give, not to receive.”

Bertolt Brecht, one of the most influential German authors, is mainly known for his political works, which were directed against fascist ideas. But as this quote shows, he also had his soft spot. 


5. Quotes About Friendship

A Group of Women Hugging Each Other

It’s called friendship because with friends, one can accomplish anything.

Friends are one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Here are a couple of German quotes about friendship that we think you’ll relate to!

  • Menschen, mit denen man lachen, weinen und tanzen kann, sind die Menschen, die das Leben ausmachen. / “People you can laugh, cry, and dance with are the people who make up life.”

This quote is not only heartwarming, but it’s also a great illustration of German grammar. Mit denen could translate to “with whom” in English, but you lose the fact that it’s specifically plural. A more word-for-word rendering might be: “People with whom one can laugh, cry, and dance are the people that make up life.” Also note that German makes great use of commas here, where only two are fully necessary in English. You can usually identify a German writing comments online by their heavy comma usage!

  • Es heißt Freundschaft, weil man mit Freunden alles schafft. / “It’s called friendship because with friends one can accomplish anything.”

A swing and a miss with this translation—it’s built on a pun in German that doesn’t work in English. The German word Freundschaft (“friendship”) ends in -schaft, which is pronounced almost exactly the same way as the verb schafft (“accomplishes” / “creates”). 


6. Quotes About Food 

Who doesn’t enjoy savoring some good food now and then? The following German quotes reflect the country’s passion for hearty dishes and good times.

  • Essen ist ein Bedürfnis, Genießen ist eine Kunst. / “Eating is a need, enjoying is an art.”

Here we can see how the gerund works in German. In English, the concept “eating” takes an -ing ending; in German, we just use the infinitive -en ending to make a noun out of a verb. All nouns formed in this way are neuter (though you wouldn’t know it from this quote). 

  • Eine gute Küche ist das Fundament allen Glücks. / “A good kitchen is the foundation of all happiness.”

Many Germans with good English assume that they can simply use Fundament in English the same way, but we almost never use it as a noun in English. 

7. Quotes About Health

Rusted Wheelbarrow

He who rests grows rusty.

Maintaining a healthy body and mind should be everyone’s top priority, because only in good health can we accomplish other important things. The following German quotes about health offer advice and wisdom on the topic!

  • Wer rastet, der rostet. / “He who rests grows rusty.”

The wordplay in this quote actually carries over into English! This is the kind of thing that would appear on a motivational poster in a German office. It reminds you to never stop striving mentally and to always keep active physically to avoid bad health later on. 

  • Mit der Gesundheit ist es wie mit dem Salz: Man bemerkt nur, wenn es fehlt. / “Health is like salt: you only notice it when it’s missing.”

A perfectly seasoned dish tastes, well, perfectly seasoned. But if salt is missing, it tastes bland. This carries over nicely into the topic of health, as things seem normal until you feel sick. 

You may notice that, in German, there are many more words before the colon than in English. This is because when we make two comparisons like this in German, we literally say: “With the health it is like with the salt.” The English style would be correct too, but getting to a high level in German means understanding when to correctly use each style for the best effect.

8. Quotes About Language Learning

A Woman Studying Outside on the Grass

Nobody that ever did their best regretted it later.

We know that studying can be difficult, especially when other things are vying for your attention. We hope that these German quotes about knowledge and hard work will empower you to continue your studies and advance your language skills.

  • Dumme Gedanken hat jeder, aber der Weise verschweigt sie. / “Everyone has stupid thoughts, but the sage keeps quiet about them.”

This quote by Wilhelm Busch, a German humorist, provides a great example of a verb in German that simply doesn’t exist in English: schweigen. It means “to keep silent,” and when we add the prefix ver– to it, it becomes “to silence.”

When it comes to language learning, you’re probably going to make lots of mistakes. By staying silent and listening or reading more, you’ll pick up the natural patterns of the language and end up speaking more correctly!

  • Aller Anfang ist schwer. / “All beginnings are hard.”

Just from looking at the words, you might be confused about why the German verb is singular but the English is plural. The secret lies in the word aller (“all”). Because it’s in the genitive case, what’s going on here grammatically is: “Every single beginning is hard.” 

  • Niemand, der jemals sein Bestes gegeben hat, hat es später bereut. / “Nobody that ever did their best regretted it later. “

Although this is a quote from George Halas, an American football coach, it’s still well-known in German. It’s completely true, too—it’s impossible to regret trying your hardest at something.


9. Quotes About Football

  • Der Ball ist rund. Das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten. / “The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes.”

This somewhat odd quote from Sepp Herberger is extremely famous in Germany; it was even used at the beginning of the film Lola Rennt (“Run Lola Run”). It symbolizes the most basic of theories behind football, and kind of helps to keep people grounded if they get crazy about the sport.

  • Wenn ich merke, dass ich Spiele nicht mehr beeinflusse, keine Tore vorbereite und keine Tore schieße, ist es Zeit einzupacken. / “When I notice that I’m no longer influencing the game, setting up any goals, or taking any shots, it’s time to pack it up.”

It turns out that football quotes can double as life quotes a lot of the time! When you find yourself in a situation where you’re just a passive observer, it might be time to rethink where you ought to be.

10. Conclusion

As you can see, Germans have an excellent variety of quotable quotes to learn. It’s amazing how much vocabulary and grammar you can see illustrated in just a handful of interesting quotations!

GermanPod101.com has several more great pages on quotes, ready-made into lessons for you—and that’s not to mention the videos, written guides, and podcast. The better you know German, the better you’ll be able to recognize and interpret German quotes whenever you see them. Maybe you’ll even end up coining your own!

Which of these German quotes is your favorite, and why? Let us (and your fellow German learners) know in the comments!

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Dreikönigsfest: The Epiphany Holiday in Germany

Germany is a predominantly Christian nation, with over half of its population identifying as Christian. As such, it should come as no surprise that Christian holidays, such as Dreikönigsfest (Epiphany), are widely celebrated here.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Epiphany holiday in Germany. Because this is such a special occasion in the country, exploring its origins and traditions will help you become better acquainted with German culture as a whole. 

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Epiphany All About?

Silhouettes of the Three Wise Men Riding on Camels

Epiphany is a religious Feiertag (holiday) on which Christians commemorate the three wise men who followed a bright star to find Baby Jesus. This is an important holiday for Catholic and Protestant believers in the country, and it has public holiday status in the states of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Saxony-Anhalt.

The story behind the Epiphany holiday is as follows:

Three wise men named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar noticed an unusual star in the sky while they traveled. Amazed by the sight, the trio decided to follow after it and were led to the birthplace of Jesus. Seeing this as the Offenbarung (revelation) of their Savior being born, they offered Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

Many Christians consider this a key event in the story and life of Jesus. During Christmas services a few days prior, many Kirchen (churches) read the story from the Bible or host a play outlining the story. 


2. When is Epiphany?

Each year, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. However, some churches hold their celebration services on the following Sunday. 

3. How is Epiphany Celebrated in Germany?

A Lantern on the Ground

There are several Feast of the Epiphany traditions in Germany, though the most important is that of the Sternsingers. These Sternsingers are groups of three children who are dressed in attire similar to what the wise men would have worn. They go from one home to another singing hymns and asking each homeowner to donate Gelde (money) to charity. This tradition became less popular for a time, but it regained its prominence about fifty years ago. 

In addition to singing Lieder (songs), the Sternsingers sometimes mark the doors of the houses with special chalk blessed by the town’s local Catholic priest. The inscription includes the letters C, M, and B, and the numbers for the current year. In 2021, the inscription will look like this:

20 * C + M + B + 21

There are two schools of thought concerning the letters used. One is that the letters stand for the supposed names of the wise men (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar). The other is that it stands for the Latin phrase meaning, “Christ bless this house.”

Because Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season in Germany, another common activity on this day is to take down all of the Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. Sometimes, an entire community will get together and burn their Christmas trees as a festive group event. 

Finally, some people burn Weihrauch (frankincense), one of the wise men’s gifts to Baby Jesus, to let its smoke cleanse their home. 

4. Epiphany Feast Foods

Food is another big part of the Epiphany celebration in Germany. 

The most famous food item for this day is King Cake. This is a delicious dessert featuring a range of holiday season ingredients: brandy, raisins, vanilla sugar, and the list goes on. 

The night before, on Epiphany Eve, Germans also enjoy indulging in bockbier. This beer is often consumed during holidays, having a rather high alcohol content and a deep flavor.


5. Essential Vocabulary for Epiphany

A Hand Raised Toward the Sky in Light of a Revelation

Now let’s review some of the vocabulary words used in this article, plus a few more! 

  • Kind (Child) – noun, neutral
  • Bibel (Bible) – noun, feminine
  • König (King) – noun, masculine
  • Gelde (Money) – noun, neutral
  • Kirche (Church) – noun, feminine
  • Singen (Sing) – verb
  • Lied (Song) – noun, neutral
  • Feiertag (Holiday) – noun, masculine
  • Dreikönigsfest (Epiphany) – proper noun, neutral
  • Offenbarung (Revelation) – noun, feminine
  • Verkleiden (Disguise) – verb
  • Laterne (Lantern) – noun, feminine
  • Weihrauch (Frankincense) – noun, masculine

You can find each of these words on our Epiphany vocabulary list, accompanied by recorded audio pronunciations that you can practice along with! 

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Epiphany traditions in Germany with us, and that you feel inspired to keep exploring this rich culture. In addition to Epiphany, Germany celebrates a range of fascinating holidays all year long. To learn about them, check out the following blog posts on GermanPod101.com:

If you’re serious about your German studies, then create your free lifetime account with us today. We provide a number of practical lessons and resources for learners at every level, so you can jump right in wherever you are in your language learning journey. 

Happy learning!

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Is German Hard to Learn? Yes – But in a Good Way.

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You might be one of those folks who wishes they knew German.

But wanting to know German is different from learning German or wanting to learn German. The people who just long for the day when they know German are usually the ones asking “Is German hard to learn?”

But here’s the thing. Every language out there is hard in one way or another, even the ones that are close to your native language. Whether the difficulty comes at the beginning of the journey or in the middle, you’re never going to get off easy.

The challenge is the fun of it! And besides, do you really have that much to worry about when it comes to learning German? 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning German Table of Contents
  1. Is it Hard to Learn German?
  2. The Hardest Parts of German
  3. The Easiest Parts of German
  4. Where Should You Start Learning German?
  5. Advice to a New Learner
  6. The Advantages of GermanPod101
  7. Conclusion

1. Is it Hard to Learn German?

Traditional German Tree Image

German has this bad reputation of being difficult. Centuries of students from all around the world have been stuck translating German back and forth from their native languages, usually long and dreadfully boring passages made up to illustrate some grammar rule or another. Hemingway himself studied German and wrote his experiences down in an essay, where he talked about the struggles that English-speakers face when learning this difficult language.

But what makes German so hard to learn?

The only reason that German seems so difficult to people is that it has grammar rules that other languages don’t.

German is a language with relatively high “inflection,” meaning that the words in a sentence change based on their grammatical roles. For example, you have to add different endings to the adjectives and the articles in order to show which part of the sentence is the subject and which is the object.

Like English, German also has a lot of set phrases and verbs that go with specific prepositions. Adding a different preposition or prefix to a verb can change the meaning completely. Just like how, in English, a business can “go under” if the rent prices “go up.”

There’s also the question of pronunciation. After a handful of spelling reforms, German is spoken much like it’s written, but there are some consonants and vowels that don’t exist in English. It’s especially tricky because some of them are almost like their English counterparts, but just different enough to cause confusion.

These factors definitely make it sound like German is a tough nut to crack. Don’t worry, though—with every difficult feature comes an easy one to balance things out. 

2. The Hardest Parts of German

A Kid Stressed about His Homework

Let’s go into a bit more detail on the things that scare people the most. 

Look up any information about why the German language is hard to learn, and the number-one answer is “the cases.” Those are the word changes we alluded to earlier. 

Interestingly enough, German is one of very few European languages in which the article is affected by the grammatical role instead of the noun. Look at any of the Slavic languages or Latin, for instance, and you’ll see that the noun itself has to change!

German has four cases: the nominative (subject of the sentence), accusative (direct object), dative (indirect object), and genitive (possession). Nominative is the “basic” case with the dictionary form of the word, so you can strike that one off your list of things to worry about right away.

The genitive is slowly being phased out, except in formal language and in set phrases, so you only really need to recognize it until you’re an intermediate learner. That leaves just two cases you have to choose from, and honestly, it becomes second nature to think in that sort of “framework” after enough practice. 

3. The Easiest Parts of German

Oktoberfest Decorations

It’s definitely not all doom and gloom here. German is related to English, and that means there are some delightfully easy things about it.

First of all, the verb system. Anybody who’s ever studied a Romance language (like Spanish) or a Slavic language (like Russian) knows that the verbal system in other languages can be very complex. 

In German, the tenses of verbs are made with helping words, like in English. English doesn’t really have a future tense—we just say “I will do.” German doesn’t either: ich werde tun. And although the word order changes around a bit, this holds true even for rarer and “more complicated” tenses.

  • Es wird getan sein.
    “It will be done.”

Also, there are quite a few words in German that are easy to guess the meaning of. English and German    share an ancestor language, so a lot of the basic, core vocabulary comes from the same root. 

Once you hear that Das Buch means “the book” and Das Schwert means “the sword,” these words are super-easy to remember when you see them again. You’ll even unconsciously pick up on the sound changes that connect German and English roots.

And even better, there’s now a second wave of common vocabulary: words loaned from modern English into German! Das Management and Der Computer are just two examples. They mostly come in the form of tech or business words.

4. Where Should You Start Learning German?

Someone Turning Up the Volume

The best way to start learning German is to begin with audio.

German pronunciation is a pitfall for a lot of people, because it has subtle vowel changes from English that are hard to pick up on your own. If you start by listening to German instead of reading it, though, you’ll hear the differences early on.

An easy place to start is with GermanPod101 or a YouTube German-learning series where you can see the German transcript of what you’re hearing. That’s a great way to match each word to its correct sound right from the beginning.

After that, you should go through a quick set of pronunciation drills. YouTube is fine for this, too, though you can just follow the instructions in a German textbook. 

This may sound like a lot of work before you really get going, but laying a proper foundation is absolutely crucial to achieving a good command of German later on. 

There are far too many people out there who started speaking before they were ready, and ended up hitting a wall in the intermediate stage where their constant mistakes continue to hold them back.

Avoid that fate—study methodically at first, and then let loose later on! 

5. Advice to a New Learner

A Woman Reading and Writing Late at Night

Now that you know what makes German hard to learn, have you decided it’s not too bad after all? Great! Here’s some advice for new learners:

Since German has a lot of little things that have to be memorized, just embrace it.

Take a two-pronged approach: set aside a bit of time every day to go over the declension charts and review the core grammar rules. You’ll quickly find that this stuff locks itself into your memory pretty easily. Be patient with yourself and slowly write out the charts over and over until they’re second nature.

At the same time, it’s important to work with real native German material right from the start. Again, GermanPod101 and YouTube are treasure troves for this. You can find interesting content, slow it down, read the transcripts, and break it down into chunks you can understand.

Understanding is way more important than being able to speak right away, because everything depends on your ability to know what’s being said to you or what you’re reading.

Your brain will subconsciously pick up the patterns of natural German speech. This means that when you want to actually speak or write, it’ll be easy because you’ll also know the theory of German grammar.


6. The Advantages of GermanPod101

Obviously, the flagship podcast series from GermanPod101 is the main attraction on our website. With hundreds of episodes covering hundreds of topics, there’s always something new to learn. Plus, it’s all broken down with clear explanations and advice for learners.

Also, don’t miss our excellent grammar and pronunciation guides, where each sound and each case is explained by experts so that you can follow along, no matter your current level.

One huge thing you can take advantage of right now is the GermanPod101 YouTube channel, which has a great series of videos designed for listening comprehension from absolute beginner to advanced.

Each of those videos has slow and clear native-speaker audio acting out dozens of realistic situations, such as buying things in shops, talking with friends, and interacting with people at work. Each dialogue gets played twice, once without subtitles and once with subtitles, so you’ll automatically make the connections you need. 


7. Conclusion

Honestly, the best way to find out if the German language is hard or not is to try learning it yourself. Although there are definitely things you’ll have to spend more time on than others, no language is really “more difficult” overall than any other.

With German, you will have the initial handicap of it taking longer to be able to form simple sentences, especially compared to a language like Indonesian, where the words just fall into place.

However, you’ll also have a huge advantage if you know English, because you have a great base of shared vocabulary and cultural knowledge. That advantage only grows if you know French or another Romance language.

When you get to the more advanced levels, you’ll see your vocabulary grow exponentially because you’ll already have learned all the roots you need to create those impressively long German nouns.

The path begins today. Take the right first step by checking out GermanPod101, and see how far you can go!

If you’re learning the language already, which parts of German do you struggle with most? What things are easier for you? Let us, and aspiring German learners, know in the comments!

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Guard Yourself Against These Common German Mistakes

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Make no mistake—people have been complaining about the difficulty of the German language for centuries. Mark Twain did it then, and you’re probably doing it now.

It seems like the harder a language is, the more pressure we put on ourselves to get it exactly right. That’s even more true when the locals tend to speak English quite confidently. 

But as the Europe of today becomes more and more multicultural, the stigma of “perfect German or bust” is slowly falling away. There’s no need to paralyze yourself with doubt concerning common German mistakes or creating the perfect German sentence, because others in your community are probably dealing with language struggles of their own. 

So if you want to improve your German, you can start first with the beginner mistakes in German that make you stand out the most. That’s what we’ve distilled right here for you in this article!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. German Pronunciation Mistakes – The Trickiest German Sounds
  2. Confusing Words
  3. Put That Verb Back Where it Came From
  4. Flex Your Grammar Skills
  5. The Mistake Grab Bag
  6. The Biggest Mistake
  7. Conclusion

1. German Pronunciation Mistakes – The Trickiest German Sounds

Woman Struggling with Complex Math Equation

German definitely has a stereotype of being a “harsh” language. Outside of World War II movies, though, there’s no basis for that! 

It just has sounds that English-speakers aren’t used to. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a matter of accent. Pronouncing German sounds wrong can lead to serious misunderstandings.

For many people, it seems that the most common German pronunciation mistakes have to do with the consonants.

German has two rather throaty “ch” sounds, one called the ich-laut and one called the ach-laut. To distinguish between them, think about where your tongue is placed when you say the vowel in ich and the vowel in ach

The “ch” sound in ich is lighter and made more forward in your mouth. It actually requires the same tongue position as the vowel—you’re basically just whispering that ich vowel. The ach-laut, in contrast, is made more in the back of the mouth, with your throat just a little bit tighter than when you made the vowel sound in ach.

You should know that in some German dialects, the ich-laut does become something more like the English sound “sh,” and people even spell it as isch

The throaty German “R” sound is another rough one for learners, and some even complain about sore throats when reading German aloud. 

If that’s happening to you, relax a bit, since your tongue shouldn’t actually be touching your throat when you make that sound. Do your best with audio or a native instructor, but the most important part is to get the transition sounds right.

That means you need to practice saying words that begin with R, end in R, and have R in the middle. Seamlessly moving from other vowels or consonants than R is a true mark of an advanced speaker. 

2. Confusing Words

Someone Getting Ready to Write in Their Journal

There are, unfortunately, quite a few German words that learners tend to mix up. 

The simplest ones are those that English doesn’t quite have an equivalent for, like machen/tun and wissen/kennen

Machen and tun both mean “to do,” but each word has its own separate collocations and set phrases. Furthermore, tun sounds a bit informal or even juvenile at times, and so you’ll rarely (if ever) see it in formal written German. There’s even a saying: Tun tut man nicht. (“One does not tun.”)

And if this wasn’t enough, the few times you do see tun written somewhere, it will very likely be misspelled. There are a few words in German that even the natives aren’t sure how to spell. That’s why you might come across variants like tuhn, tuhen, or tuen. Indeed, tun sounds like there could be an h or e in-between, but we guarantee that this word consists of only three letters.

Wissen and kennen, similarly, both mean “to know,” but kennen is for people and wissen is for knowledge. 

  • Ich kenne ihn nicht.
    “I don’t know him.”

Trickier still, are the many, many words with prefixes or reflexive components that otherwise sound quite similar. Native English-speakers never had to learn it consciously, but English does the same thing: imagine you’re a learner and you’re trying to keep the meanings straight between “throw up,” “throw out,” “throw off,” and “throw on”!

Writing in German is one of the best ways to master confusing words and avoid common German spelling mistakes in the future. This is because, in speech, it’s too easy to stutter and correct yourself in real time while losing the thread of what you really wanted to say. In writing, though, you can carefully consider each word and lock its meaning into your brain. 

Be careful, though, not to contrast similar-sounding words too much right next to each other. Don’t sit in your chair with your eyes closed and repeat betrunken (“drunk”) and ertrunken (“drowned”) over and over. People will look at you funny, and you’ll only make the mental links between the words stronger.

3. Put That Verb Back Where it Came From

Someone Going on a Hike

To a native English-speaker, German word order can seem like one of its quirkiest aspects. 

As you’re probably aware, the verb is the very last element of German relative clauses. 

  • Ich habe einen Ball.
    “I have a ball.”
  • Ich habe einen Ball, der schwer ist.
    “I have a ball that is heavy.”

We’ve put ist (“is”) in the very last spot in the second clause of the second example. That trips up even advanced German students, because when you’re composing a sentence in your head, it’s often unnatural to wait until the end to think of the verb.

Try out some online grammar quizzes in German for a quick refresher of the word order rules. Also, if you do some writing in German from time to time, you should try stepping away from your text and reading it aloud after a break. It will probably surprise you how many little mistakes you find!

Another type of word order mistake in German has more to do with comprehension than production. German articles have several different forms depending on the number and case, but in English, they all get mapped to “the.” 

Have a look at this, though:

  • Dem Mann folgte die Frau.
    “The woman followed the man.” (It was the man that the woman followed.)

In today’s German writing, you won’t come across sentence inversions like this very often, but crack open a book written before the 1920s or so, and this will be everywhere. This example shows that the cases do play an important role in allowing for free word order while maintaining intelligibility. 

4. Flex Your Grammar Skills

Male, Female, and Neuter Gender Signs

You probably already know that the single biggest problem German learners face grammar-wise is the grammatical gender and the word endings that go along with them. Here, we’ll cover common German grammar mistakes concerning this, and how to avoid them.

Although there are a couple of rules you can memorize to make guessing noun gender go a little faster, it’s truly just going to come down to memorization and exposure. Learning German isn’t a race. The longer you spend with it, the more natural the correct noun endings are going to seem.

One thing that can actually help a lot for learning adjectives and article declensions is making study guides. 

Take a selection of intermediate-level German text and explain it, word by word, to a learner who doesn’t know a thing about German. Explain why each word has each ending, and how it relates to the sentence as a whole.

This is the kind of exercise you only need to do a handful of times before you start surprising yourself with how accurate your grammar is.

5. The Mistake Grab Bag

Many learners aren’t quite comfortable with the concept of polite and informal pronouns. To tell the truth, tons of native speakers have a hard time knowing exactly when to siezen “use Sie” or duzen “use du” as well!

There’s also a general shift toward using du more, especially online and especially among young people. However, if you ever take a German standardized test, you’ll be specifically tested on your ability to effectively use both levels of politeness, so make sure you’re equally strong in both.

And although German is considered to be one of the easier languages to spell, there are a few words with irregular pronunciation. These mostly come from other languages.

For instance, the words Restaurant and Fond (“fund”) are from French, and so they end in nasal vowels. Also, Regisseur (“film director”) has a smooth French “zh” sound, but Region has a hard “G” sound.

Finally, the humble word vier (“four”) has a long vowel, but it actually becomes a short vowel in the related words Viertel (“fourth”), vierzehn (“fourteen”), and vierzig (“forty”). Keep a sharp ear out, and you may hear more irregularities!

6. The Biggest Mistake

Man with Tape Over His Mouth

However, all of these little mistakes pale in comparison to one thing that could ruin your German forever—not using it. 

German-speakers aren’t going to bite you if you use a few words wrong or forget an ending. If you force yourself to stay silent even when you hear a lost German tourist asking for directions in your home country, you’re missing out on unequaled practice and the opportunity to make new friends. 

You might have the preconception that German-speakers would be too good at English to ever help you with your German, but that’s really not the case. The more you put yourself out there, the more international friends you’ll make and the better your German will become.

7. Conclusion

Even though practice with native speakers is the only tried-and-true way to really feel comfortable with native speakers, you can still make a strong effort at home. 

That’s where GermanPod101 comes in as a complete solution to all of your German-learning needs—all inside two earbuds. 

Learning German is a slow road, but oftentimes, you look back and marvel at how far you’ve come. Daily practice is the key, and that’s made easy with the podcast episodes, video tutorials, and vocabulary lists you’ll find on GermanPod101.com.

So step right up, and try out GermanPod101 today to start speaking beautiful and correct German as soon as possible!

Before you go, let us know in the comments what German mistakes you make the most often, or how you’ve learned to overcome them. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Master Simple German Questions and Answers for Beginners

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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to tonight’s round of German Questions Extraordinaire! 

Does that sound like a quiz show you would watch? It would certainly help out your German!

Perhaps you’ve realized that every time you have a German conversation, you’re kind of on a quiz show yourself. Conversations tend to be built around questions and answers—especially the kinds of conversations that you’re likely to have as a foreign student of German.

Therefore, practicing the following German questions and answers for beginners will provide you with the tools you need to sail through opening conversations like they’re nothing.

In a typical German conversation, questions and answers like the ones we’ll introduce today will come up all the time. Try them out now and see how you like them!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Contestant Number One
  2. You and Your Home
  3. Whose Language is it Anyway?
  4. Language Follow-Ups
  5. Travel Time
  6. Compare a Few Places
  7. All Eyes on Food
  8. What Do You Do?
  9. What’s Going On?
  10. The Price is Right
  11. Conclusion

1. Contestant Number One

Two People Shaking Hands with Each Other
  • Wie heißen Sie?
    “What’s your name?”

We begin the show today with the verb heißen, meaning “to be called.” As you can see, the pronoun here is the formal Sie, as opposed to the informal du. In general, younger people and people commenting online use du with one another (there’s even a verb for that: duzen), while one would use Sie with older people and in very formal situations.

To answer the question, simply use the same verb:

  • Ich heiße Martin.
    “My name is Martin.”

There’s actually another way to form this sentence that’s perhaps a little less common, but still familiar amongst native German-speakers. This one is a near-carbon copy of the English question:

  • Wie ist ihr Name?
    “What is your name?”
  • Mein Name ist Gloria.
    “My name is Gloria.”

The only difference compared to the English version is that German uses wie, meaning “how,” here instead of was, or “what.” 

2. You and Your Home

First Encounter

Log on to any online language chat room and introduce yourself as a German-learner; people will absolutely ask you where you’re from. It’ll happen in Germany, too!

  • Woher kommen Sie?
    “Where do you come from?”

The first word here, woher, is an interesting quirk of German grammar. It means “from where” because wo is the “where” part and her is a particle meaning “to here.” So literally, you’re saying “From where to here do you come?”

To answer, we’ll need a preposition:

  • Ich komme aus Ungarn.
    “I come from Hungary.”

Aus simply means “out,” so literally, you’re expressing coming “out of a place.” There’s no need to use the her particle because it’s already been established by the context and the preposition.

3. Whose Language is it Anyway?

Let’s bring ourselves back to the basics for a moment. Here’s a German question you probably heard in movies long before you actually started studying the language. 

  • Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
    “Do you speak German?”

Germans traveling abroad sometimes seem to have a sixth sense about who can speak German. You may end up getting this question even if you’re not in Germany!

There are a couple of good answers, depending on your comfort level.

  • Ja, ein bisschen.
    “Yes, a little.”
  • Ja, wie kann ich Ihnen helfen?
    “Yeah, what can I do for you?”
  • Natürlich!
    “Of course!”

If you find yourself lost for words in German-speaking lands, it’s a good idea to learn the names of other languages you can handle, just in case. 

  • Sprechen Sie Japanisch?
    “Do you speak Japanese?”
  • Können Sie Englisch?
    “Can you speak English?”

There’s another German quirk right there: it’s acceptable to say “I can English” without specifying the verb “to speak.” Don’t try that with other skills, though. That sentence structure is reserved only for languages!

4. Language Follow-Ups

Introducing Yourself

Once you’ve established that you’re not from Germany and are, in fact, capable of speaking the German language, people tend to get curious. After all, they’ve probably met at least one foreigner with pretty flawed German, and you, on the other hand, are doing quite well. 

  • Wie lange lernen Sie schon Deutsch?
    “How long have you been learning German?”

German doesn’t have a tense that corresponds to “have been doing” in English. Instead, Germans simply use the present tense. The answer works the same way:

  • Ich lerne Deutsch seit vier Jahren.
    “I’ve been learning German for four years.”

The use of seit, meaning “since,” instead of für, meaning “for,” causes confusion in both German and English. Look carefully for people making this mistake in English-language internet comments, and you’ll probably find a couple of Germans!

The use of schon, or “already,” is optional here, but it can be readily adopted into the answer as well:

  • Schon elf Jahre.
    “Eleven years already.”

5. Travel Time

Berlin, Germany

Let’s assume that you’re learning German at home in a country far away from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. If you happen to come across a native speaker and strike up a conversation, you may get tossed this question:

  • Waren Sie schon mal in Deutschland?
    “Have you ever been to Germany?”

Here, we’re substituting waren, or “were,” as the past tense instead of the English “have you ever been.” It’s possible to say that in German, of course:

  • Sind Sie schon mal in Deutschland gewesen?
    “Have you ever been to Germany?”

However, this is rather stilted and definitely a mark of older speech or writing. 

Also note the use of mal. This literally means “time” or “occurrence,” as in “one time, two times…” Here, it doesn’t really have a word-for-word translation; instead, it simply lends the flavor of “ever been.” You can think of schon mal as a set phrase in that regard.

  • Ich war 2015 in Berlin.
    “I went to Berlin in 2015.”
  • Ja, dreimal insgesamt.
    “Yeah, three times in total.”

Here, mal has its traditional meaning as part of dreimal, or “three times.”

6. Compare a Few Places

Germans are educated folks, and they tend to be quite open to traveling and new perspectives. Just go on YouTube and look for kultur shock (culture shock) to find a bunch of different vloggers talking about their experiences abroad. 

It’s not uncommon for a German conversation to include a genuinely interested question about what things are like in your country.

  • Und wie ist es in Amerika?
    “And what is it like in America?”
  • Gibt es so etwas in Mexiko?
    “Do they have this in Mexico?”

You can, of course, give as simple or as complicated of an answer as you want. In fact, some of the most high-level German exams ask you specifically to compare things in your home country to those in Germany.

So you have virtually unlimited options for description here. Let’s keep it basic with these sample answers:

  • Nein, so was haben wir gar nicht!
    “No, we don’t have that kind of thing at all!”
  • Ja, aber es ist bei uns anders.
    “Yes, but it’s different with us.”

Again, we can see some differences in the way that English and German use prepositions. It’s bei uns, meaning “by us,” instead of mit uns, or “with us.” 

7. All Eyes on Food

A German Christmas Dinner

Germans probably wouldn’t say that they’re particularly proud of German food, but it’s a common-enough conversation topic that it’s good to practice. Here are some good questions in German you can try out.

  • Was mögen Sie an deutsches Essen?
    “What do you like about German food?”
  • Mögen Sie deutsches Essen?
    “Do you like German food?”

This is a situation where telling a bit of a white lie doesn’t hurt (assuming you’re not a fan of the food, of course).

  • Ja, alles schmeckt sehr gut!
    “Yes, everything tastes very good!”
  • Ich esse gern Weißwurst.
    “I like eating white sausage.”

Here we’ve got the great particle gern, which can’t really be translated on its own, but instead is used after a verb to express enjoyment of that action.

8. What Do You Do?

People Working on a Creative Advertising Campaign

Everybody’s got to do something to bring home the bacon. How about you?

  • Was machen Sie beruflich?
    “What do you do for your job?”

If you haven’t already brushed up on the names for jobs and careers in German, definitely check out our vocab list. 

People aren’t going to need a complicated description of what you do, especially if you’re in a niche field like insurance or SEO marketing. 

Instead, stick to a general field:

  • Ich schreibe Werbungen.
    “I write advertisements.”
  • Ich bin Krankenschwester.
    “I’m a nurse.”

Remember, when you talk about job titles in German, you don’t need to use an article the way you would in English.

9. What’s Going On?

To be frank, an introduction question like this is much more of a set phrase than an actual inquiry into your well-being.

  • Wie geht es Ihnen?
    “How’s it going?”

The easy answer is Gut or Sehr gut, but your answer could also be the opening to any one of several classic conversation topics.

  • Nicht so gut bei diesem Wetter!
    “Not so well in this weather!”

10. The Price is Right

A Man Paying with a Twenty-Buro banknote

Germany isn’t really a country known for street markets or haggling, but a phrase for asking the cost of something is one worth knowing.

  • Wie viel kostet es?
    “How much does it cost?”

Even if you’re not haggling, you can still get use out of this phrase in cafes and restaurants that might not have all of the prices posted. 

  • Es kostet zwei Euro.
    “It costs two euros.”

Just as we’re wrapping up here, we get a nice sentence that perfectly maps onto English. The only thing to note is that wie viel, or “how much,” is sometimes written as one word: wieviel. But with the new spelling reforms of the 21st century, using two words is considered correct.

11. Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve won a ticket to German fluency! 

These common German questions and answers represent just the smallest beginning of the wide expanse of German conversations available to you. 

For more excellent resources to take you from the beginning all the way through advanced German levels, try out GermanPod101! Listening to real-life situations in podcasts and following along with the transcripts and vocab lists will help you pick up the German language smoothly and painlessly. 

Check it out now, and watch your questions about German disappear into thin air!

Before you go, why not try practicing these questions and answers in German straight away? Answer one or more of the questions in this article in German. We look forward to hearing from you!

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100 Hand-Picked German Verbs for Your Everyday Life

You know, German treats verbs differently.

In contrast to pretty much any other European language, German moves the verb all the way around the sentence quite often. They call it “verb-second” and “verb-final.”

All that to say, you’re going to need to know your German verbs well if you want to be a good German speaker. Here are one hundred of the best German verbs for beginners to learn—how many do you know already?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in German Table of Contents
  1. Regular Tourist Verbs in German
  2. Verbs at Home
  3. Verbs in the Kitchen
  4. Verbs at the University
  5. Verbs at Work
  6. Verbs for Your Spare Time
  7. Verbs at the Gym
  8. Verbs on a Date
  9. Conclusion

1. Regular Tourist Verbs in German

City of Bremen in Germany

Everybody wants to travel to Germany at some point! Remember, work on your German accent and stay confident, and people will be surprised and pleased at your language abilities.

Here are some German verbs you need to know for your travels.

1. gehen – “go”

Wo gehen Sie hin?

“Where are you going?”

2. schlafen – “sleep”

Ich kann nicht schlafen.

“I can’t sleep.”

3. bleiben – “stay”

Wie lange bleibst du hier?

“How long are you staying here?”

4. bezahlen – “pay”

Kann ich mit der Karte bezahlen?

“Can I pay with a card?”

5. essen – “eat”

Was wollen Sie essen?

“What do you want to eat?”

6. trinken – “drink”

Gibt’s noch was zum trinken?

“Is there anything else to drink?”

7. kaufen – “buy”

Ich kaufe nur Android Handys.

“I only buy Android phones.”

8. verkaufen – “sell”

Ich möchte meine alten Kleider verkaufen.

“I want to sell all of my old clothes.”

9. bestellen – “to order (food)”

Möchten Sie bestellen?

“Would you like to order?”

10. bummeln – “to wander”

Nach der arbeit, bummelte er noch durch die Stadt.

“After work, he wandered through the city.”

11. chillen – “to relax,” “to chill”

Ich möchte heute etwas in dem Park chillen.

“I’d like to relax in the park for a bit today.”

12. wandern – “to hike”

Kann man in den Bergen wandern?

“Can you hike in the mountains?”

13. reservieren – “to reserve”

Sie haben kein Zimmer reserviert.

“You haven’t reserved a room.”

14. feiern – “to celebrate,” “to party”

Er feiert nächste Woche seinen Geburtstag.

“He’s celebrating his birthday next week.”

15. saufen – “to get drunk”

Saufen wir zu viel?

“Do we drink too much?”

Top Verbs

2. Verbs at Home

One of the best ways to practice your German with nobody around is to simply describe to yourself what you’re doing at home, as you’re doing it. With nobody to hear, who cares if you make mistakes?

Here’s a list of German action verbs you can use around the house.

16. aufwachen – “wake up”

Ich muss jeden Tag um sechs Uhr früh aufwachen.

“I have to wake up every morning at 6 A.M.”

17. aufstehen – “to get up”

Ich stehe um zehn Uhr auf.

“I get up at ten.”

18. schlafen – “to sleep”

Sie schläft immer noch.

“She’s still sleeping.”

19. sich die Zähne putzen – “brush teeth”

Ich putze mir gerade die Zähne, warte mal kurz.

“I’m brushing my teeth right now, wait a moment.”

20. sich die Haare bürsten – “brush hair”

Ich hasse es, wenn jemand mir die Haare bürstet.

“I hate it when someone brushes my hair.”

21. das Bett machen – “make the bed”

Wann wirst du dein Bett machen?

“When are you going to make your bed?”

22. sich duschen – “to shower”

Ich dusche mich zweimal in der Woche.

“I take a shower twice a week.”

23. staubsaugen – “to vacuum”

Bitte, könntest du unter dem Bett noch mal staubsaugen?

“Please, could you vacuum under the bed again?”

24. bügeln – “to iron”

Ich bügle nie meine Hemden.

“I never iron my shirts.”

25. waschen – “to wash”

Hast du deine Hände gewaschen?

“Did you wash your hands?”

26. aufräumen – “to clean up”

Können Sie bitte die Küche aufräumen?

“Could you please clean up the kitchen?”

27. fernsehen – “to watch TV”

Ich sehe selten fern.

“I don’t watch TV often.”

28. lesen – “to read”

Was lesen Sie gerade?

“What are you reading now?”

29. anhören – “to listen (to something)”

Hörst du deutsche Hörbücher?

“Do you listen to German audiobooks?”

3. Verbs in the Kitchen

Couple Preparing Food in the Kitchen

You don’t find a whole lot of German restaurants outside of Europe, but if you should happen to visit Germany, be sure to check out the local specialties in every state. When you come back, use these verbs to describe how the dishes are made!

Here are some good German verbs to know related to the kitchen and cooking.

30. kochen – “to cook,” “to boil”

Ich koche jeden Tag Eier.

“I cook eggs everyday.”

31. umrühren – “to stir”

Rühr die Suppe um.

“Stir the soup.”

32. backen – “to bake”

Kannst du Kekse backen?

“Can you bake cookies?”

33. vorheizen – “to preheat”

Den Backofen auf einhundert achtzig Grad vorheizen.

“Preheat the oven to one hundred eighty degrees.”

34. erhitzen – “to heat up”

Erhitzen Sie das Öl in der Pfanne.

“Heat up oil in the pan.”

35. einfrieren – “to freeze”

Wenn du es nicht essen willst, können wir es einfrieren.

“If you don’t want to eat it, we can freeze it.”

36. frühstücken – “to eat breakfast”

Ich frühstücke immer auf Arbeit.

“Where are we going to eat breakfast?”

37. Abendessen essen – “eat dinner”

Er isst Abendessen allein zu Hause.

“He is eating dinner alone at home.”

38. anbrennen – “to burn (food)”

Oh nein, ich habe das Sandwich angebrannt!

“Oh no, I burned the sandwich!”

39. schneiden – “to cut”

Wir schneiden den Teig mit einem Messer.

“We cut the dough with a knife.”

40. nach etwas schmecken – “to taste like something”

Das hier schmeckt nach altem Käse.

“This tastes like old cheese.”

41. probieren – “to try”

Schnecken würde er niemals probieren.

“He would never give snails a try.”

42. salzen  – “to salt”

Als Nächstes werde ich das gericht salzen.

“Next, I’ll salt the dish.”

4. Verbs at the University

People Taking a Test in a University Classroom

German universities generally have some strict entrance requirements, but that’s because they want to keep their well-known academic standards high. With nearly free tuition for international students and an unforgettable immersion experience, what’s not to love?

Here’s a list of common German school verbs you’ll hear all the time while attending a university. 

43. schreiben – “to write”

Ich kann nicht so gut schreiben.

“I can’t write very well.”

44. studieren – “to study (a subject)”

Ich studiere Geschichte als Hauptfach.

“I’m studying history as my major.”

45. lernen – “to study (for review),” “to learn”

Haben Sie für die Prüfung gelernt?

“Did you study for the test?”

46. auswendig lernen – “to learn something by heart”

Du hast das ganze Buch auswendig gelernt?!

“You learned the whole book by heart?!”

47. anmelden – “to register”

Wo melde ich mich an?

“Where do I register?”

48. forschen – “to research”

Forschen Sie lieber oder lehren Sie lieber?

“Do you prefer researching or teaching?”

49. sich verabreden – “make an appointment”

Wir haben uns schon verabredet.

“We’ve made an appointment.”

50. den Unterricht schwänzen – “to skip classes”

Ich habe niemals im Leben den Unterricht geschwänzt.

“I have never, in my life, skipped classes.”

51. spicken – “to cheat”

Sie wurden beim spicken erwischt.

“They were caught cheating.”

52. bestehen – “to pass”

Ich will meine Deutschprüfung bestehen!

“I want to pass my German test!”

53. durchfallen – “to fail”

Viele Studenten sind dieses Jahr durchgefallen.

“Lots of students failed this year.”

54. wiederholen – “to repeat”

Können Sie das bitte wiederholen?

“Could you please repeat that?”

55. überzeugen – “to convince”

Ich bin immer noch nicht überzeugt.

“I’m still not convinced.”

56. vorlesen – “to read aloud”

Kannst du den Satz bitte vorlesen?

“Could you please read the sentence aloud?”

57. lehren – “to teach”

Er lehrt im Gymnasium.

“He teaches at the secondary school.”

58. verpassen – “to miss”

Ich habe meinen Bus verpasst!

“I missed my bus!”

59. einen Abschluss machen – “to graduate”

Sie hat ihren Abschluss noch nicht gemacht.

“She hasn’t yet graduated.”

5. Verbs at Work

Two Women Going Over Work-related Papers

It’s only logical that you’d get a job in a German-speaking country after your German degree. And even if you haven’t moved to Germany yet, speaking German is a valuable asset to include on your resume.

 Here are a few German verbs you must know before snatching that job.

60. Kaffee machen – “to brew coffee”

Ich werde mir einen Kaffee machen, möchtest du auch einen?

“I’ll brew myself a coffee, would you like one as well?”

61. pünktlich sein – “to be on time”

Wie kann er immer pünktlich sein?

“How can he always be on time?”

62. sich verspäten – “to delay,” “to be late”

Das Kind verspätet sich immer.

“The child is always late.”

63. anstellen – “to hire”

Stellen Sie hier viele Frauen an?

“Do you hire many women here?”

64. entlassen – “to fire”

Vorsicht, du könntest dafür entlassen werden.

“Watch out, you could be fired for that.”

65. arbeiten – “to work”

Wo arbeiten Sie?

“Where do you work?”

66. kündigen – “to quit”

Ich werde in zwei Wochen kündigen.

“I’m quitting in two weeks.”

67. erklären – “to explain”

Wir können diese Situation erklären.

“We can explain this situation.”

 68. jammern – “to babble”

Er jammert stundenlang in seinem Büro.

“He babbles constantly in his office.”

69. telefonieren – “to make a call”

Haben Sie mit der Abteilungsleiterin telefoniert?

“Did you call the department manager?”

70. drucken – “to print”

Wir drucken zu viele Sachen.

“We’re printing too many things.”

71. speichern – “to save”

Ich habe das Dokument nicht gespeichert!

“I didn’t save the document!”

72. schicken – “to send”

Ich habe es dir in einer E-Mail geschickt.

“I sent it to you via email.”

73. verhandeln – “to negotiate”

Ich muss ein besseres Gehalt verhandeln.

“I have to negotiate a better salary.”

More Essential Verbs

6. Verbs for Your Spare Time

Everybody has their hobbies. Whether you just have to take a German exam or like to chat, having interesting hobbies can make you a fascinating conversationalist.

Here are a few German hobby verbs to memorize.

74. zeichnen – “to draw”

Ich zeichne keine Menschen.

“I don’t draw people.”

75. skizzieren – “to sketch”

Er skizziert ein Turm.

“He sketches a tower.”

76. malen – “to paint”

Ich male gern mit den Kindern.

“I like to paint with the kids.”

77. fotografieren – “to take photos”

Ich fotografiere viele Blumen.

“I take a lot of pictures of flowers.”

78. Gitarre spielen – “to play guitar”

Es ist lange her seitdem ich Gitarre gespielt habe.

“It’s been a long time since I played guitar.”

79. programmieren – “to program”

Ich programmiere sechs Stunden pro Tag.

“I program for six hours a day.”

80. klettern – “to climb”

Ist es erlaubt, hier zu klettern?

“Is it allowed to climb here?”

81. aufnehmen – “to record”

Ich nehme alle meiner Lieder auf.

“I record all my songs.”

82. üben – “to practice”

Ich übe jeden Tag Deutsch.

“I practice German everyday.”

83. fahren – “to drive,” “to ride”

Ich fahre gern Fahrrad.

“I like riding bikes.”

84. bolzen – “to play soccer”

Manchmal nach der Arbeit gehe ich mit den Jungs bolzen.

“Sometimes after work, I play soccer with the boys.”

7. Verbs at the Gym

Woman and Man Weightlifting at the Gym

Overall, Germany is a pretty healthy country. People do a lot of walking and biking, and if you want to get in on that action, you should have the vocabulary to say so in German.

Here are a few different German verbs for the gym and outdoor exercise. 

85. trainieren – “to exercise”

Trainierst du jeden Tag?

“Do you work out everyday?”

86. laufen – “to run”

Sie läuft im Park.

“She is running in the park.”

87. Gewichte heben – “to lift weights”

Wieviel kannst du heben?

“How much can you lift?”

88. pumpen – “to work out”

Ich war gestern im Fitnessstudio pumpen.

“I went to the gym yesterday to work out.”

89. joggen – “to jog”

Ich jogge zwei mal die Woche im Mauerpark.

“I’m jogging twice a week in Mauerpark.”

90. schwimmen – “to swim”

Kann man in dem Rhein schwimmen?

“Can you swim in the Rhine?” 

91. einen Muskelkater kriegen – “(to get) muscle soreness”

Kriegst du keine Muskelkater?

“Don’t you ever get sore muscles?”

92. sich wiegen – “to weigh oneself”

Du solltest dich nicht zu oft wiegen.

“You shouldn’t weigh yourself too often.”

93. sich entspannen – “to relax oneself”

Es ist schwer, mich zu entspannen.

“It’s hard to relax.”

94. abnehmen – “to lose weight”

Ich versuche etwas abzunehmen.

“I’m trying to lose some weight.”

95. zunehmen – “to gain weight”

Ich nehme immer noch zu.

“I’m still gaining weight.”

Negative Verbs

8. Verbs on a Date

Have you met a special someone? These are the activities you might get up to in German:

96. rauchen – “to smoke”

Rauchst du?

“Do you smoke?”

97. lachen – “to laugh”

Sie lachten laut und lang.

“They laughed loud and long.”

98. lächeln – “to smile”

Er lächelte und sagte, sie sei schön.

“He smiled and said she was beautiful.”

99. umarmen – “to hug”

Sie haben sich zum Abschied umarmt.

“They hugged each other goodbye.”

100. küssen – “to kiss”

Kann ich dich küssen?

“Can I kiss you?”

That’s enough for this section—take a look at our Valentine’s Day article for more!

9. Conclusion

Congratulations! That’s 100 German verbs in sentences for context.

How many of the words on this German verbs list were new to you? Let us know in the comments! 

The best way to study a list like this is to read it a couple of times for several days in a row. After the second or third time through, you’ll have already internalized some of the key structures.

Even better than that is going onto GermanPod101.com and listening to our vast podcast lesson library, complete with transcripts and translations. Listen for a couple of hours, and you’ll hear more verbs than you ever dreamed of!

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