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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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A Brief German Culture Overview

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“Culture” is a tricky word. It often comes up when talking about a foreign country, and all the different rituals and handicrafts immediately spring to mind. Woven baskets! Wooden shoes! Pretzels!

The truth is, you have just as much culture as anybody else in the world. Culture is all about what you perceive as normal and what your society expects as a baseline—and that can be surprisingly different from place to place.

We’ve created this guide to get you up to speed on the German culture basics and to give you a better understanding of life in German-speaking countries. Let’s dive in.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Religions in Germany
  3. Family and Work
  4. Art
  5. Food
  6. German Beer
  7. Traditional Holidays
  8. Conclusion

1. Values and Beliefs

Recycling Bags for Plastic, Paper, and Glass

In German culture, values and beliefs are at the core of society. Germans value the concepts of control, community, and privacy, and these cultural elements are the driving force behind the lives and work of much of the population.  

Germans prefer to live an organized life. This is where the stereotype of Germans absolutely needing to be on time comes from. If you arrange your day into time blocks for this and time blocks for that, and then a train is late or traffic prevents you from getting to lunch on time, it’s going to make you upset!

For this reason, it’s considered quite odd and even rude to just drop in on a friend or neighbor unannounced. Always give people time to work events into their own schedules.

Germans also put a lot of importance on the feeling of belonging to a community. In neighborhoods, people take care of their own gardens so that everyone’s garden will look nice and reflect positively on the community as a whole. Germans are also very careful about recycling and protecting the environment. If you don’t separate your garbage and recycling into several different bins, you’ll definitely get some ugly muttering and hateful looks.

Privacy is an extremely big deal in Germany (as well as Austria). You’re probably familiar with Google Street View, right? Did you know that there’s a big Germany- and Austria-shaped hole in the Street View map of Europe? This is a reflection of how unwilling Germans are to let corporations take hold of their private data, a characteristic that some people have linked to the totalitarian regimes of Germany’s past that filed away every little data point for future exploitation.

At the same time, though, Germans are quite comfortable with their own bodies. Public nudity is not seen as shameful or criminal, though it has declined in recent years (no doubt due to the rise of privacy-intruding technology). There are still many nude beaches in Germany and a large Freikörperkultur or “nudity culture.”

2. Religions in Germany

A Church in Germany during a Snowy Winter

The history of Germany is more or less the history of Europe, given that Germany is centrally located and in its various political incarnations has been massively influential in regional affairs.

European history experienced a massive shift when a particular German-speaker, a monk named Martin Luther, started the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century. His writings caused an enormous schism in the Church and set the stage for literally centuries of conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

As such, it may not surprise you to learn that in German culture, religious beliefs are predominantly Lutheran Christian!

There are also a number of Catholics (particularly in Southern Germany) as well as an increasing number of Muslims. Starting in the late twentieth century, there has been more and more immigration into Germany from Muslim countries, bringing the percentage of Muslims in Germany to 4.4 percent. Starting in 2015, there was a relatively large increase in the Muslim population (though it still represented just over one percent of the total population), and many Germans viewed this negatively.

This slight demographic shift has prompted a recent national conversation about heritage, faith, and immigration. Many Germans have more open-minded attitudes about these things now than they did before.

3. Family and Work

In German culture, family life is stable and families tend to be on the smaller side, with two parents raising one to three children. Most families in Germany live in relatively large houses in commuter towns and suburbs, though the city centers of the largest cities are packed with dense apartment blocks for students, singles, and younger couples.

Fewer and fewer women in Germany are choosing to marry and have children in the first place, actually, leading to a demographic crash that’s worrying many economic forecasters. This is due to women wanting to have more of a career for themselves instead of caring for children—though both the German and Austrian governments have mandated Mutterschafts (“maternity leave”) and Vaterschaftsurlaub (“paternity leave”).

Speaking of careers, what is German work culture like? 

When it comes to work, Germany remains an economic powerhouse in manufacturing, engineering, and technical innovation in general. All universities in Germany offer free tuition, so the workforce gets more and more educated every year.

Work culture in Germany is the envy of many other nations. Although business can still be quite formal, several weeks’ worth of vacation every year is considered the norm. And because of the German love for well-run societies, businesses that force their employees to work overtime are looked down upon as exploitative.

4. Art

The Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

The art created by German-speaking people over the years is practically without peer. You’ve got your Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, and Bach to start with—and if you’re a classical music aficionado, you have literally hundreds more to choose from.

Architecture is also a big thing in Germany. A lot of the country’s architectural heritage was destroyed during the war, so what you have in many cities is a mixture of surviving pre-war buildings, twentieth-century utilitarian architecture, and new eco-conscious buildings from the twenty-first century.

Germans, Austrians, and the Swiss all share a love of art and an appreciation for music. Practically any city you go to has at least one museum open to the public for zero cost, and you can usually find just as many tourists as locals at the exhibits.

5. Food

A Plate of Bratwurst with Mashed Potatoes

German culture and food go hand in hand.

Although many Europeans have German relatives, you don’t tend to see a lot of German (or Austrian, or Swiss) restaurants in foreign countries. Too many people might go their whole lives without ever really knowing what “German cuisine” entails.

On the whole, German food is heavy with lots of meat and sauce. Meats are generally cured, pan-seared, or roasted (as opposed to fried or deep-fried). Germans also enjoy thick and rich black bread full of healthy grains.

In fact, the “healthy” part is really important.

Many Germans like organic food and are willing to pay a premium on Bio– whatever that prefix may apply to. Groceries are significantly cheaper in Germany compared to many other countries, with bread, cheese, vegetables, and meat all coming in at rates that make it easy to buy nutritious food at any income level.

Some famous German foods you might have heard of include Bratwurst (pan-fried sausages of all types), Brezel (“pretzels”), and Strudel (fruit-filled pastries).

There’s a local Berlin specialty called Currywurst as well, which is a simple bratwurst with curry-flavored sauce and french fries. It’s considered a local delicacy, and if you haven’t had one, most people would say you’ve never really been to Berlin!

Maybe you already knew this, but one of the most popular dishes worldwide originated in Berlin! In the 1960s, Germany invited many Gastarbeiter (“guest workers”) from other countries to help rebuild the nation after the war. Many of those guest workers were from Turkey, and since they had started to settle down in Germany, they also brought their regional dishes. One of those was the Döner Kebab. While the dish is originally of Turkish origin, the popular Döner sandwich is said to have been first sold in Berlin in the early 1970s by Turkish immigrants. Today, some of the world’s most famous Döner Kebab shops are localized in Germany.

As for German food culture, Germans don’t tip more than about ten percent for good service at restaurants, but they do tend to stay at restaurants for a while and enjoy their meals. People don’t eat family-style; they order one plate for themselves and share if needed. Germans love Italian food more than any other foreign cuisine, though sushi might be a close second.

Has this little taste of German food started to whet your appetite? Head over to our vocab lists and lessons about German food for more information and practical vocabulary:


6. German Beer

A German Woman Drinking a Beer during Oktoberfest

Actually, German beer deserves its own article, but since it’s an integral part of German culture, we just had to mention it here. 

Do you know of any other nation that has laws about how beer can be brewed? The Reinheitsgebot (literally, “purity order”) is a law that regulates which ingredients can be used for brewing beer, and its tradition goes back to the sixteenth century. 

The original Reinheitsgebot said that beer could only be brewed using Wasser, Gerste, und Hopfen (“water, barley, and hops”). Even though the law changed a bit over the centuries, you can find a regulation in modern legal texts which says that an alcoholic beverage which does not consist of the three previously mentioned ingredients, and was brewed in Germany, can’t be called Bier (“beer”). 

Saying that beer is an integral part of German culture isn’t an exaggeration. It’s the German’s favorite beverage, and there are even festivities dedicated to beer, such as the Oktoberfest (literally, “October celebration”). There are around 1600 breweries in Germany, many of them run by monks in cloisters. 

And one more fun fact for you: Did you know that the legal age to drink beer in Germany is sixteen?

7. Traditional Holidays

Several People Holding the German Flag

Germany was never colonized by a foreign power, so there’s not really a “German Independence Day” that gets celebrated.

However, Germany was split up into East and West Germany for pretty much the entire second half of the twentieth century. When the two halves reunited on October 3, 1990, it was cause for immense celebration. Every year, Germans commemorate Tag der deutschen Einheit (“German Unity Day”), on which a different German city hosts a special event by the German political leaders and holds festivities for everyone to take part in.

Austria’s equivalent is the Nationalfeiertag (“National Holiday”) on October 26 to mark a return to sovereignty in 1955. 

Also, in German-speaking regions, New Year’s Eve is celebrated as Silvester, a second religious holiday separate from New Year’s Day where people set off fireworks and celebrate with lucky pigs in Vienna—yes, really

    → For more information on a variety of German celebrations, visit the German Holidays section of our blog!

8. Conclusion

How much did you learn about German culture and traditions from reading this article? How does German culture compare with that of your country? Let us know in the comments! 

Culture is always hard to fully understand when you’re on the outside looking in. Are you wondering how to experience German culture and finally lift that veil? Learning how to speak excellent German is a great place to start!

When you study German with GermanPod101, you’ll get cultural notes in every lesson, plus extra information about cultural norms you’ve got to be aware of. And once you’re comfortable with the German language, it will be that much easier to deal with the culture because you’ll be seeing it through much more nuanced eyes.

Sign up today on GermanPod101.com and take the plunge into German culture!

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Walpurgis in Germany: Ready to Have a Witchin’ Time?

Witches, sorcerers, costumes, tricks, and superstition…no, it’s not Halloween! We’re talking about Walpurgis night in Germany. 

While you might not associate the beginning of spring with witchcraft and sorcery, this correlation has some interesting roots in numerous European countries. In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of this mystical holiday and how it’s celebrated today. 

Let’s go!

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1. What is Walpurgis Night?

Three Women Dressed as Witches Circled Around a Steaming Cauldron

Walpurgis is a festival that takes place each year, beginning on the night of April 30 and ending on May 1. This festival is also common in a number of other European nations, including Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia. 

Walpurgis Night is named after an eighth-century abbess named Saint Walpurgis (also known as Saint Walpurga). She was known for her effectiveness in spreading Christianity, as well as her supposed abilities to deflect witchcraft and heal a variety of ailments. After her passing, people would invoke her in their prayers in the hope that she would keep the witches at bay. 

You see, it was believed that witches and sorcerers would hold a Hexensabbat (Witches’ Sabbath) each year in the Harz Mountains atop Mount Brocken. They were thought to engage in crazy dances and conspire with demons—or even Satan himself—to harm Christians and cause other sorts of trouble. 

In addition to invocations of Saint Walpurga, people would light bonfires on the hillsides and create as much noise as possible to scare away witches. 

Over time, Walpurgis Day became less associated with actual witchcraft, and more and more people perceived this day as a time to reflect on the charms of such superstitions. Today, the holiday is mainly celebrated just for the fun of it, though the superstitions behind it are still strong in some places. 

    → Make sure you also brush up on your Religion vocabulary while you’re at it.

2. German Walpurgis Traditions

While this witch festival in Germany is celebrated in most regions, there are a few towns and regions that have larger celebrations than others: 

  • Thale
  • Goslar
  • Wernigerode
  • Brocken

These areas often have a variety of festivities going on for Walpurgistage (Walpurgis Day), such as dances, comedy shows, and juggling acts. Everyone will be dressed up in some sort of witch or sorcerer costume, broomsticks and all. There are also all kinds of fun stalls, from those selling tasty food to others showcasing arts and crafts. At night, there are fireworks. 

Wherever you go, there’s likely to be a Maifeuer (May bonfire). This is a large bonfire set at night, around which people dressed in costumes enjoy themselves with drinks and songs. A popular activity is called “May jumping,” and it involves couples jumping over parts of the fire that have started to die down. There’s a Christianized version of the bonfire called Easter bonfires. 

Walpurgis is commonly associated with the end of winter and the beginning of spring. People may enjoy taking in the scenery and the warmer weather, and it’s popular to sing a number of May- and spring-related songs. Drinking something called woodruff punch is another common activity; this is a special alcoholic beverage made using white wine, semi-sparkling wine, and a type of plant called woodruff

Walpurgisnacht in Germany is also a time to expect pranks from youngsters. Many of Germany’s youth seize the opportunity to hide personal belongings or spray paint public property. 

The day following the Walpurgisnacht witch festival is Maifeiertag (May Day), and this is when the maypole is erected in many German towns. In bigger cities, this often involves brass bands and even a city fair. Though this is less common nowadays, it’s worth noting that Walpurgis and May Day are associated with leftist riots as well. 

    → Spring Break might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the rest of spring. 😉 Check out our list of the Top 15 Things to Do Over Spring Break for some inspiration.

3. Walpurgis in Literature and Theatre

Did you know that Walpurgis night in Germany features in famous pieces of literature and other art forms? Here are just a few examples: 

  • Faust by Goethe
  • The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

4. German Vocabulary You Should Know for Walpurgis

A Walpurgis Bonfire

Ready to expand your German vocabulary? Here are some of the words and phrases from this article, plus a few more: 

  • Mai / May
    • noun, masculine
  • Hexe / Witch
    • noun, feminine
  • Berg / Mountain
    • noun, masculine
  • Glocke / Bell
    • noun, feminine
  • Besen / Broom
    • noun, masculine
  • Tanz in den Mai / Dance into May
    • phrase, masculine
  • Heilige Walburga / Saint Walburga
    • phrase, feminine
  • Maifeiertag / May Day
    • noun, masculine
  • Maifeuer / May bonfire
    • phrase, neutral
  • Hexensabbat / Witches’ Sabbath 
    • phrase, masculine
  • Walpurgistage / Walpurgis day
    • noun, masculine
  • Aberglaube / Superstition
    • noun, masculine
  • Zauberer / Sorcerer 
    • noun, masculine
  • Maibaum / Maypole
    • noun, masculine

Make sure to visit our Walpurgis Night vocabulary list to hear and practice the pronunciation of each word! 

Final Thoughts

Walpurgis night is a fun holiday with some more serious background. What are your thoughts on this holiday? Is there a similar festival or celebration in your country? 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to continue learning about German culture and the language, then head over to the following pages on GermanPod101: 

If you would like to start making the most of your time studying with GermanPod101, create your free lifetime account today and gain access to tons of fun and practical lessons and materials. Learning German can be a challenge, but you don’t have to go it alone.

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Delicious German Food to Complement Your Studies

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Maybe you weren’t fortunate enough to grow up with German restaurants nearby or German relatives in the family.

If not, you’ve missed out on some amazing food.

German food is soul food by any definition: rich, hearty, and packed with flavor. Anyone who’s been to Germany would probably agree that visiting restaurants was the highlight of their trip!

How well do you know your German food—and how well can you talk about it in German?

In this article, you’ll get to know some brand-new dishes as well as some that you’ve probably sampled before. All the while, pay attention to the words used to describe them and their German names. You might find yourself picking up some important German vocabulary!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in German Table of Contents
  1. Characteristics of German Food
  2. Must-Try Dishes in German Restaurants
  3. Authentic German Food vs. Overseas German Food
  4. Three Unique German Foods
  5. German Food Vocabulary
  6. Conclusion

1. Characteristics of German Food

Roast Pork with Sauerkraut

Although many people in the United States and England can trace their ancestry back to Germany, there aren’t a ton of German restaurants on the streets of Miami or Blackpool. These people might not even have a great idea of what Germans typically eat!

At this point, you just need two words: Fleisch (“meat”) and Brot (“bread”).

It’s not all they eat, but these two items make up a large part of the traditional German cuisine. Kartoffeln (“potatoes”) make a solid appearance as well, though these aren’t technically an ancient European food.

Germans tend to avoid eating spicy food—they use pepper and vinegar sparingly, and rarely add sauces other than meat gravies. Slowly stewed meats and breaded cutlets often appear on German plates.

Sausages, of course, play a strong role in German cooking. Any German meat market will have more types of sausage available than you knew existed.

As for beverages, Germans don’t have a particularly strong tea or coffee culture, though beer, wine, and cider all flow freely at German restaurants. 

Speaking of which, if you found yourself in a German restaurant right now, would you know what to order? There are quite a few types of German food you need to try!

2. Must-Try Dishes in German Restaurants

German Black Forest Cake

We’ll start off with a Southern German and Austrian specialty known as Spätzle. This is an egg noodle dish usually served with a hearty meat sauce. Once the dough for the noodles is ready, it’s held over boiling water and the drops of noodles are quickly sliced off, cooking nearly instantly as they become submerged.

Ready for dessert already? Some of the most famous German foods are desserts, like the Apfelkuchen (“apple cake”). You can find several variations of this sweet delicacy, such as the Gedeckter Apfelkuchen  (“covered” with graham cracker crumbs and oats) or the Versunkener Apfelkuchen (with the apple bits “sunken” into a rich, spongy dough).

Again from Austria, next up we have the famous Strudel. This is a sort of turnover pie, normally baked with apples and raisins. The secret is to use absolutely paper-thin dough known as phylo, and to brush the whole thing with a small amount of butter before cooking.

You’ve heard of long German words—how about Schwarzwälderkirschtorte? Breaking this down, you can see what it really means: “black-forest-cherry-cake.” This thick, luxurious black cake is a centerpiece at many European bakeries, and that place of honor is well-deserved. For a true Black Forest cake, you need to make the cherry sauce and whipped cream by hand.

3. Authentic German Food vs. Overseas German Food

A German Pretzel

With so many Germans influencing culture the world over, it’s no surprise that lots of people are passingly familiar with German food. The key word is “passingly,” though. Plenty of things have gotten lost in translation as recipes have been handed down from generation to generation over the years. 

So the question remains: What is traditional German cuisine and how does it compare to overseas varieties?

Chief among the foods in question might be the Brezel, or the German pretzel. In Germany, these are huge, curled knots of dough served piping hot with a dip of fresh mustard and sometimes topped with big flakes of rock salt. You don’t see a lot of those overseas, though. The typical “pretzel” that an American knows today is a tiny dried snack that comes out of a bag like a potato chip, baked into a hard crisp.

A schnitzel is another thing that looks a bit different overseas. According to culinary authorities in Austria and Germany, a Wienerschnitzel or Schnitzel Wiener Art (“schnitzel in the Viennese style”) must be made of veal—not pork or chicken. Since veal is about twice as expensive on average as pork and chicken, it’s no wonder people are cutting costs abroad! It should also be served in a light vinaigrette, not the heavy gravy that so many restaurants add.

Sauerkraut has been a popular stereotype of German cooking for generations, even lending its name to a not-very-polite epithet during the war years. It’s actually not a wholly German dish, originating in the Middle Ages from Eastern traders. Today, you can buy sauerkraut by the box in grocery stores all over the world, but few people keep to the simplicity of real German sauerkraut—it’s simply cabbage and salt, aged to perfection with no additives.

Finally, the Kartoffelsalat, or “potato salad,” is a beloved dish at picnics and get-togethers across the United States. It also differs quite significantly from what’s found in actual German restaurants, though. German potatoes tend to be smoother and more golden than potatoes in the Americas, and in preparing Kartoffelsalat, they’re boiled with beef broth for an extremely rich flavor.

4. Three Unique German Foods

German Curried Sausage Meal

Even though some popular German foods have been exported with differences from their original forms, there are still plenty more dishes to be discovered in German-speaking countries. Here are a couple of foods that are pretty hard to find elsewhere!

1.       Weißwurst: Literally “white sausage,” this is a sausage made of veal and bacon, and it’s associated strongly with Southern Germany. It’s quite perishable and usually eaten as a breakfast or lunch food. The most interesting thing is the way it’s served—it’s brought to the table in the water used to cook it!

2.       Sauerbraten: Just as the Wienerschnitzel mentioned above is usually served with vinegar, so too is this marinated roast. The meat is marinated for days at a time in vinegar and wine, and this marinade is later turned into a rich gravy. The whole thing is served with potatoes and red cabbage.

3.       Currywurst: Perhaps you’ve already guessed what the name means after comparing it with Weißwurst above—it’s a curry-flavored sausage! Gastronomically speaking, a currywurst isn’t particularly gourmet. It’s a standard German bratwurst served with a mixture of ketchup and curry powder, often paired with french fries. However, it’s an absolutely beloved fixture of Berlin, and if you ever mention to a Berliner that you’ve never had one, expect to be marched to the nearest Imbiss immediately!

5. German Food Vocabulary

A Group of Friends Eating Out Together

Now that you’re nice and hungry, it’s time for a bit of language practice. Do you know the right way to order food in German?

Believe it or not, when you go to a German café or bakery, the typical way to order is to simply count the things you want.

  • Einmal Kaffee mit Zucker, zweimal Kekse bitte. / “One coffee with sugar, two cookies please.”

The word einmal literally means “once,” so you’re not ordering “one coffee” but “once coffee.” This is just a quirky turn of phrase. If you’re nervous about using it incorrectly, wait for someone else to order and confirm that you’ve got it right.

Although lots of the dishes mentioned in this article so far have been thick with meats and sauces, plenty of Germans are vegetarians. If you are too, it’s good to know how to ask about it.

  • Haben Sie vegetarische Gerichte? / “Do you have vegetarian dishes?”

Although many German words sound a lot like English words, be careful of the false friend Menü. That’s the word for a “set meal,” while the paper with all the foods listed on it is a Spiesekarte.

  • Können Sie etwas empfehlen? / “Do you have anything to recommend?”

And finally, at the end of the meal, it’s always a good idea to mention how good it was.

  • Alles war fantastisch! / “Everything was fantastic!”

6. Conclusion

Has learning about German food gotten you hungry for more knowledge?

Ordering in a German restaurant can be a bit intimidating, but not if you’ve got the right practice materials. The best way to avoid having Germans speak English with you in restaurants is to be confident and speak clearly without stuttering. The more you show that you’re comfortable with the language, the more you’ll be accepted as a proficient German speaker.

And the best way to get there?

Naturally, by having a great resource at your fingertips! At GermanPod101.com, you can follow along with our high-quality podcasts. Our lessons range from those for learners at the raw beginner level to those for more advanced speakers of German. As you learn, you’ll naturally pick up grammar and vocabulary, and then have access to high-quality guides and interesting articles like this one to keep you motivated.

The sooner you start seriously learning German, the sooner you’ll master it. Much like cooking, practice makes perfect. Start today and add German to your chef’s repertoire!

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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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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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You And Me Against the World Of German Pronouns

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You already know you need to learn about German pronouns. They’re a small but absolutely indispensable part of learning a new language.

Congratulations – you mostly know them already!

German pronouns are almost the same as the English ones, with just a couple more here and there. You know, plural second person, formal address, all that good stuff like in other European languages.

The only difficult part is, well, the grammar. Each pronoun has several different forms based on what case it’s in. You not only need to know what that means, but you also need to get used to actually making those changes during natural speech.

Since cases are the key to really understanding German pronouns, let’s start with those.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in German Table of Contents
  1. Opening Up The Cases
  2. German Pronouns in the Nominative
  3. Accusative German Pronouns
  4. Dative German Pronouns
  5. Genitive Case
  6. Conclusion

1. Opening Up The Cases

Introducing Yourself

Cases, for all their difficult reputation, are just different forms of words to mark their grammatical function, such as subject or object in the sentence. English shows that only with pronouns: she is the subject form (“she does something”) of an English pronoun, and her is the object (“something happens to her”).

German marks many parts of speech for case, especially pronouns. German has four cases, but that doesn’t mean four pronoun forms – there are overlaps. You’ll see that very quickly.

Traditionally, the German cases are known as Nominative (subject), Accusative (object), Dative (indirect object), and Genitive (possession).

Let’s have a look at an English sentence to illustrate.

         Her brother gave me the book.

Here, “her” is a possessive pronoun. “Brother” is the subject. “Me” is the indirect object. And “the book” is the direct object.

All of these kind of blend together in English, but in German, the parts of the sentence are usually crystal clear.

This, by the way, doesn’t mean German is any better or worse of a language than English for having cases.

It’s simply the way the language developed. Thousands of years ago, every language spoken in Europe had complex cases, but over time, some of them combined and others were lost entirely in different languages. It’s a natural cycle, and in a few more centuries German might lose its cases – or even give them to English!

2. German Pronouns in the Nominative

Woman Looking in Rearview Mirror

“Nominative” is the first German case, used to mark the subject. It’s the basic form of the word, and therefore the simplest to translate directly into English.

Here’s a brief chart of the personal pronouns in English and their counterparts in German, all in the nominative case.

EnglishGerman
Iich
You (informal)du
You (plural)ihr
Wewir
Heer
Shesie
Ites
You (formal)Sie
Theysie

As you can tell, German distinguishes between three different kinds of “you:” Formal, used for talking to strangers older than you or people like bosses or professors; informal, used for friends, relatives, and strangers younger than you, and plural, used when you’re talking to a group of people in an informal setting. When speaking formally to a group, the formal pronoun pulls double duty.

This makes sense from an English perspective too, by the way. A couple of centuries ago, “you” was both the plural and the formal in English, and “thou” was the informal singular. German still makes that  distinction – and even uses ihr to refer to one person in particularly formal or traditional settings, such as an apprentice to their master.

Also take note of capitalization! Only the formal Sie is always capitalized in German, though du is sometimes capitalized in advertisements or in magazines for young people. It can seem a little weird for English speaker to keep ich in lowercase, though naturally that’s balanced out by all the other capital letters floating around in German.

Let’s see some examples!

Sie ist Taxifahrerin.

She is a taxi driver.

Sie sind ein guter Lehrer.

You’re a good teacher.

Sie haben heute viel zu tun.

They have a lot of work to do today / You have a lot of work to do today.

These sentences illustrate how you have to rely on either the verb conjugation, the context, or both to make the meaning clear. Here, though, are some easier ones:

Ich wohne in Belgien.

I live in Belgium.

Hast du Hunger?

Are you hungry?

3. Accusative German Pronouns

One Man Helping Another Climb Mountain

“Accusative” is the case that marks the object. First, the chart for reference.

EnglishGerman
Memich
You (informal)dich
You (plural)euch
Uswir
Himihn
Hersie
Ites
You (formal)Sie
Theysie

Not a whole lot of difference from the nominative case! Less than half change at all from nominative to accusative. And here’s how you know when to make that change.

Whenever you’d say “me” in English to express the same concept, use the accusative in German. Think about a couple of verbs for a moment: “Pat sees me.” “The coach hit me.” Those verbs are going to be accusative in German too, and so look at the examples:

Hast du ihn gesehen?

Did you see him?

Ich werde euch nicht beraten.

I won’t give you (plural) advice.

Magst du mich?

Do you like me?

It’s easy to find lists online of the most common accusative verbs in German. You can also look for set phrases, because many German preposition-verb combinations take a specific case. Thus, for “to think of somebody,” the preposition is always an and the phrase is an jemanden dachten.

Of course, knowing when to use the pronouns is one thing, but learning to actually produce them accurately under pressure is more difficult.

4. Dative German Pronouns

A Weekly Planner

The “dative” case marks the indirect object. In German, some verbs require a dative case pronoun even if you think it would logically be accusative, such as “to help.”

Können Sie mir helfen?

Can you help me?

That’s not mich like we learned before! Take a look at the next chart:

EnglishGerman
Memir
You (informal)dir
You (plural)euch
Usuns
Himihm
Herihr
Itihm
You (formal)Ihnen
Theyihnen

English no longer distinguishes between accusative and dative. Instead, you can think of dative as being something like “to me.” Whenever you want to say “to me” in English, translate it as mir in German.

These pronoun forms, if anything, are used more frequently than accusative forms in everyday German.  Of course that depends on what you’re talking about and what verbs you’re using, but take service German for instance.

Wir wünschen Ihnen einen schönen Tag.

We wish you a good day.

5. Genitive Case

Basic Questions

By the way, what happened to the genitive case?

To be honest, there are in fact genitive pronouns in German, but they’re very rarely used. Here’s a list of those pronouns:

  • meiner “of me”
  • deiner “of you “
  • Ihrer “of you”
  • seiner “of him, of it” 
  • ihrer “of her, of it” 
  • seiner “of it” 
  • unser “of us” 
  • euer “of you”
  • Ihrer “of you “
  • ihrer “of them” 
Person Washing Hands

So fall, all of our charts have been separated by case. That was to make it easier to handle. Crack open any German textbook, though, and you’ll see a nice big chart with every case all at once. 

Now that you’re comfortable with each case at a time, let’s open it up and show off the demonstrative pronouns in every German case.

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
Nominativedieserdiesediesesdiese
Accusativediesendiesediesesdiese
Dativediesemdieserdiesemdiesen
Genitivediesesdieserdiesesdieser

This looks surprisingly like the charts for ordinary German articles – so once you learn the case endings for those, you’re good to go here as well!

In written or formal German, the word jener is used to say “those,” while dieser is used for “these.” Jener has the same endings, so it’s not too hard to learn, but the truth is, people just say dieser for both “these” and “those.”

Kennen Sie diesen Mann?

Do you know this man?

Mit der Hilfe meiner Frau, habe ich diese Stelle bekommen.

With the help of my wife, I got this job.

One more important type of pronoun is a reflexive pronoun, used with a huge number of German verbs.  It’s the equivalent to English pronouns like “myself” or “ourselves.” Also, it’s mostly identical to the accusative and dative pronouns we saw earlier, but with one nice simplification.

The only change is that you have to say sich (in both accusative and dative) for the third person. Put another way, “himself,” “herself,” and “itself” all translate to sich in German.

Sie wäscht sich täglich.

She is washing herself everyday.

6. Conclusion 

Improve Listening

You might be thinking, “Do I really have to memorize those charts?”

Well, yes and no. Memorizing the charts and being able to write them by hand does have some real advantages. You’ll be able to compose and revise accurate texts, for one, since you’ll know all the rules by heart.

But developing a feel for the language is just as important.

And that comes with time. It’s a slow process that requires a whole lot of actual German content to be read, watched, and listened to.

Fortunately, you can achieve both goals quite easily right here on GermanPod101.com! We have excellent grammar resources as well as a real treasure trove of vocabulary lists – and that’s not even mentioning our flagship podcast series!

Relax with our German learning material and watch as it slowly becomes second nature to use the correct German pronoun every time.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section with any questions you have about German pronouns. We’ll do our best to help!

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