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Learn the German Alphabet from A to Z!

Learning to speak a new language is exciting; learning to write a new language is even more exciting! It will open new worlds for you. So, dig into these tips and advice for learning how to master the German alphabet easily - at GermanPod101 we make it easy, fun and relevant for you!

Starting anything from scratch can be challenging, especially if you learn how to write in a language completely different from your own. It is really like navigating through a territory that is completely unknown to you.

However, this need not be a big hurdle or a problem! At GermanPod101, we introduce you to German writing in simple, easy-to-follow steps, and you can ask for advice or help anywhere along the way. It is important to master the German alphabet completely from the start.

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The German writing system uses one alphabet—the German alphabet. With this alphabet, the German writing system displays a scientific vocabulary of about nine million German words and word groups. The German alphabet is a Latin-based alphabet and consists of twenty-six letters: the same letters you can find in the basic Latin alphabet.

Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire (500 B.C. - 500 A.D.). The Romans developed twenty-six letters to create a broad variety of possible syllables and words. While the common people in the territory that was Germany at that time spoke an antecedent of German, the upper class continued to use Latin as their official language and so adapted the Latin alphabet.

Even today, the Latin-based alphabet is quite popular in Europe and many other countries around the world. Its impact is unparalleled. The most prominent countries that use it are England, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South American nations in general, and many more countries around the globe.

The German alphabet is an extended version of the Latin alphabet, and it contains 30 different letters. These are the same letters found in the English language with four additional letters. The pronunciation of words in German has a rhythm and poetry all its own, although before people learn the language, it can have a harsh sound to some ears. Still, it is one of the most popular languages in Europe, and if you are going to be traveling to the continent, it is one of the best languages to learn.

The pronunciation of some of the German letters are not a part of the English language, and that means that you are going to have to learn the special ways to pronounce the different letters and German accents. Some of the things that you will learn when you start to get deeper into the German vocabulary is that the W in the language sounds like V in English, and the V sounds like F in English. S in the German often sounds like Z in English when it is at the beginning of a word and followed by a vowel. ß is the only letter that is never going to begin a word.

The below alphabet is going to be one of the first things that you will have to memorize when you are learning how to speak German. Having the German alphabet under your belt is going to make it much easier to learn German phrases and vocabulary, as well as German writing. Since the alphabet is similar to the English language, it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn the other four letters. However, learning to pronounce them correctly can be tricky.

Knowing your German alphabet is one of the first things that you will likely learn in your German lessons. It’s a great way to get into the spirit of learning and understanding more about German culture.

German Alphabet Chart


The German alphabet has twenty-six basic letters, like the Latin alphabet. We can find them in two variants: uppercase and lowercase. German uses five basic vowels: -A, -E, -I, -O, and -U (uppercase) and -a, -e, -i, -o, and -u (lowercase). It also uses twenty-one basic consonants: -B, -C, -D, -F, -G, -H, -J, -K, -L, -M, -N, -P, -Q, -R, -S, -T, -V, -W, -X, -Y, and -Z (uppercase), and -b, -c, -d, -f, -g, -h, -j, -k, -l, -m, -n, -p, -q, -r, -s, -t, -v, -w, -x, -y, and -z (lowercase).

Letters in the German Alphabet:

Upper Case Lower Case Name
A a ah
B b bay
C c tsay
D d day
E e ay
F f eff
G g gay
H h haa
I i eeh
J j vot
K k kah
L l ell
M m em
N n en
O o oh
P p pay
Q q koo
R r er
S s es
T t tay
U u ooh
V v fow
W w vay
X x ix
Y y uep-si-lohn
Z z tset

The German language additionally uses three letters with diacritics and one ligature. We call the diacritic letters Umlaute (”umlauts”), while we call the ligature Eszett (sharp-s).

Upper Case Lower Case Name
Ä ä ä similar to the e in melon
Ö ö ö similar to the i in girl
Ü ü ü no equivalent in English
ß ß double s sound

The German language uses three diacritic letters in uppercase and lowercase: -Ä, -Ö, and -Ü (uppercase), and -ä, -ö, and -ü (lowercase). Although these letters represent distinct sounds in the German phonology, Germans usually do not consider them part of the alphabet. When asked to say the alphabet, Germans will just count the twenty-six cardinal Latin letters and will name the umlauts only when asked to do so explicitly.

-ä, -ö, and -ü originated as -a, -o, and -u with a superscripted -e, which in German handwriting was written as two vertical dashes. Those dashes have degenerated to dots. This led to their current writing as cardinal letters plus superscripted dots: -a + ¨= -ä; -o + ¨= -ö, and -u + ¨= -ü.

In case it is not possible to use the umlauts, when using a restricted character set (because keyboards other than the German keyboard don’t display the umlauts), transcribe the umlauts -Ä, -Ö, -Ü, -ä, -ö, and -ü as -Ae, -Oe, -Ue, -ae, -oe, and -ue (base vowel plus -e).

However, avoid any such transcription when possible because vowel combinations of “-a + -e,” “-o + -e,” or “-u + -e” don’t necessarily mean that it always is a transcription of -ä, -ö, or -ü. For example, look at das neue Haus (”the new house”). Neue is spelled “-n-e-u-e,” which could be back-transcribed as “-n-e-ü.” Technically, the second -e has no connection with the -u at all: neue means neu (”new”), while the -e at the end indicates the neutral singular form. So neü doesn’t exist in German.

The other extra letter of the German alphabet is the sharp -s, which we call Eszett and write as ß. The Eszett looks similar to the lowercase Greek “beta”, but the curve is not closed at the bottom (ß). Eszett only exists in a lowercase version because it can never occur at the beginning of a word or sentence.

When using a restricted character set, we can convert Eszett (ß) to -ss. For example, you can convert Fuß, spelled -F-u-ß (meaning “foot”), to Fuss (-F-u-s-s). This rule also applies when you must capitalize entire words. For example, Fußball (”soccer”) is capitalized FUSSBALL, using -SS.

The German spelling reform of 1996 led to a reduced usage of Eszett in Germany and Austria. Nowadays, ß replaces -ss only after long vowels and diphthongs.

There is no general agreement on where these umlauts occur in the sorting sequence. Telephone directories treat them by replacing them with the base vowel followed by an -e, whereas dictionaries sort each umlauted vowel as a separate letter after the base vowel. As an example from a telephone book, Ärzte (”doctors”) occurs after Adressenverlage but before Anlagenbauer (because -Ae replaces -Ä). In a dictionary, Ärzte and all other words starting with -Ä occur after Arzt and all other words starting with -A. We sort the sharp -s Eszett (ß) as though it were -ss in both phone directories and dictionaries.

The Germans consider some of the letters of the German alphabet to be rare letters. -q, for example, is a rare letter. It only appears in the sequence -qu, as in Quark (”cottage cheese”). Other letters, like -x and -y, occur almost exclusively in loan words (especially of Greek heritage) and not in native German words. We use -c in combination with -h or -s-h as -ch or -sch.

Another peculiarity of the German writing system is the rule that the first letter of any German noun is always capitalized, even in the middle of the sentence.

For Example:

  • Peter spielt Ball auf der Straße.

“Peter plays with a ball on the street.”

We capitalize the nouns Ball (”ball”) and Straße (”street”) even though they don’t appear at the beginning of the sentence and are not considered proper nouns.

Why is Learning the German Alphabet Important?

AlphabetA language’s alphabet is its building blocks. Trying to learn how to write in German without first learning its alphabet is a bit like trying to build a brick house without touching the individual bricks! It is impossible to do a good job that way. So don’t believe language schools and methods that try to teach you otherwise. You will regret it later.

Also, once you start recognizing symbols and words, you will be encouraged by your own progress and motivated to learn even faster. Even just learning the basics of the alphabet will allow you to start recognizing simple German words, and it will feel great!

Furthermore, knowing the alphabet even helps with pronunciation, as learning the individual letters of any language will start uncovering nuances and intricacies that are not always apparent when you’re simply listening to the words.

Completely mastering the German alphabet, no matter how long it takes, will give you an excellent head start in learning how to write and read the language. It will offer you a solid foundation on which to build the other language skills, so set a goal to learn the alphabet so well that you’re able to recite it in your sleep!

Read on for helpful tips and secrets to learning the German alphabet quickly and effectively.

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3 Reasons to Learn German Through PDF Lessons

Let’s now take a closer look at how studying German lessons in PDF format can help you reach your dream in up to half the time of normal video or audio lessons!

① Saves Minutes on Your Data Plan

Learning German through PDF lessons can dramatically reduce your data use. Once a lesson or tool is downloaded, you can then access it offline via your computer or smartphone any time or place regardless of Internet access. And once you’ve download the German lessons in PDF format, you can actually access them faster than logging in and trying to do so via a live site. So not only will learning German using PDF lessons save minutes on your data plan—it will save you some significant time as well as the lessons add up!

② Print and Take All German Lessons and PDF Tools With You Anywhere

Sometimes, a tiny smartphone screen just isn’t adequate, especially when you are trying to learn something new. The great thing about PDF lessons, tools or files is that they can be quickly printed and taken anywhere after you download them. In fact, printing out German lessons in PDF format can actually save you time when compared to going through the material on a smartphone with a small screen—even with the extra printing time!

③ Great Study Tool to Boost Retention and Mastery

Studying video or audio lessons online is a great way to learn a language because students can play and rewind sections as many times as needed until the lesson is mastered. But when you review the same German lessons again in PDF format, an incredible thing happens: your retention dramatically improves! Thanks to Time Spaced Repetition, seeing the information again in written format helps reinforce the information in your mind and improves both retention and recall. The benefits of learning German using PDF lessons quickly add up to significant time savings for you, your data plan, and your dream of learning a new language!

Why are we giving it away?

Learning to read and write is a must for all beginners. Although you get video lessons on how to write in German at GermanPod101, you’ll still need physical worksheets to practice on. That’s why you’re getting this printable tutorial PDFs as a gift.

Secrets to Learning the German Alphabet Fast

SecretWith a language, like with anything you have to learn from scratch, having a few mnemonic devices handy are key to learning it fast. A mnemonic device is basically any method or technique that helps you to retain or commit something to memory more easily.

Here are a few mnemonic devices to memorize the German alphabet so you can speed up learning how to write in German.

① Find and Learn an Alphabet Song or Poem in German

Can you still remember your childhood alphabet song in your own language? The best way to commit it to memory so you can recite it is still your mom or first teacher’s way - with music, a song and/or a poem! Find a recording and learn to sing the song, or recite the poem along as best as you can. Ask your GermanPod101 teacher to help you understand exactly what you are singing or saying, and soon you’ll have reciting the alphabet under your belt! Repeat it out loud as often as possible.

However, you still need to learn how to write it.

② Study a Few Letters At a Time

Remember when you were young and learning to write for the first time? You didn’t start with words or sentences; you started with letters, one at a time!

Decide on tackling only a few letters each week, and then don’t move on from these till you are completely familiar with them. Don’t take on too many at once, or you may become discouraged. Also, remember to ask your teacher at GermanPod101 if you have questions!

Learn to incidentally spot the letters in books, road signs (If you’re living in the country), magazines, on TV, anywhere you encounter written German. Remember to write them out!

③ Write Out the Letters of the Alphabet By Hand

Make it a goal to write out your week’s letters at least once a day, and commit to this goal. You can also do it every time you have a free moment. Get yourself a special notebook for this purpose that you can carry with you anywhere you go. Sitting on the train or bus? Waiting for someone somewhere? Whip out your notebook and write the German alphabet, or the letters you are learning. Aim for about 20 repetitions, while silently saying the letter in your head as you write it out. This way, you will soon be able to form and write words all by yourself! Exciting, isn’t it?

Writing something down with a pen also seems to engrave it in the brain in a way that nothing else does. As an added benefit, it gives you the satisfaction of seeing a new language in your own writing!

Once you’ve mastered the whole alphabet, commit to writing it out in its entirety at least once a day, for at least one month. More repetitions are obviously better.

④ Involve Your Whole Body

Research has shown that the more senses and actions we use to learn something, the quicker the new information sticks in the memory and becomes habitual. To apply this principle while learning the German alphabet, write out huge letters by tracing them in the soil, or with chalk on the floor. Now, while saying the letter out loud, walk on the lines you have just traced. In this way, you ‘write’ the letter by moving your whole body!

Having fun just makes it even easier to learn something, so why not ‘write’ the letters out with dance steps while moving to your favorite German music!

This is a simple trick that seems silly, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you will commit intricate letters to memory this way. It really works!

⑤ Use Associations To Memorize Letters

This technique would involve saying the German letter out loud, and then thinking of a word in your own language that sounds the same as the letter. That would then create a phonic association that should make it easier for you to remember the letter. Better even if the association is something you can draw or picture.

If the script of the new alphabet is very different from your own, look at it closely, and see if you can find an image that the letter reminds you of

⑥ Now Have Fun Trying To Write Words!

Try to write words from your own language in German, and ask your friendly GermanPod101 teachers for feedback! Or post them on the forum and see if anyone can read them. You will be so pleased with yourself when you start writing words that are readable and recognizable by native speakers.

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Has anyone thanked you today? We will. Thank you for reading this article and learning with us! In fact, today, you’ll learn the many different ways to say “Thank You” in German. It’s one of the most important German phrases. Check it out and watch the video too to practice your pronunciation.

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