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Rebecca: Welcome back to GermanPod101, the place to learn and to love German. In this lesson, we are taking years of experience in Germany and boiling it down to a few essential phrases that are a great place to start in German.
Widar: Yes. In this lesson we'll introduce you to five phrases that will help you every day!
Rebecca: Yes, these are words and phrases that you'll be really glad you learned. We'll teach you not only the phrases but more importantly, when and where to use them.
Widar: Let's listen to the first phrase.
"Guten Tag."
English: "Good day." "Hello."
Man: "Guten Tag." "Gu-ten Tag." "Guten Tag."
Woman: "Guten Tag." "Gu-ten Tag." "Guten Tag."
Widar: "Guten Tag..."
Rebecca: This phrase is mostly used on its own, but can be combined with other words. "Guten Tag" is the most common way to greet someone. So maybe, for example, if you're being introduced to a new co-worker, or something, you can use…
Widar: "Guten Tag"
Rebecca: …as a formal greeting.
Widar: Yeah, "Guten Tag" is kind of formal, but this way you don't sound impolite when meeting someone for the first time or when you're greeting the the desk clerk in your bank branch or insurance company. In situations where you're not required to be so formal, "Hallo" is a convenient phrase to use.
Rebecca: So "hallo" is less formal. I guess it's kind of like a light-hearted "Hi!" or "Hey!" in English.
Widar: Yes. That's true.
Rebecca: I hear people using it with shop clerks and stuff.
Widar: Yeah, I think I often use it with people working at stores! "Hallo."
Rebecca: "Hallo." "Hi." Okay. Can we repeat the more formal phrase again?
Widar: Sure. "Guten Tag."
Rebecca: Yeah. "Guten Tag." "Good day." "Hello." Great. On to the next phrase.
"Entschuldigung."
English: "Excuse me." "Sorry."
Man: "Entschuldigung." "Ent-schul-di-gung." "Entschuldigung."
Woman: "Entschuldigung." "Ent-schul-di-gung." "Entschuldigung."
Widar: It's one of the most versatile phrases you will come across in Germany. "Entschuldigung" is a good phrase to use, say, if you're trying to make your way through a crowd or something.
Rebecca: Yes. You can use "Entschuldigung" to get someone's attention.
Rebecca: …like to call the waiter over at a restaurant, to get the attention of a shop clerk, or to get the attention of a passerby you want to ask a question… The neat thing is that it can double as "I'm sorry!" in some situations.
Widar: This is true!
Rebecca: If you need to apologize for something that has happened, like being too late, you can also use this phrase.
Widar: It's used to apologize for some kind of light trouble or mishap. However, it's better if you don't use it when you're truly sorry.
Rebecca: I think that's a good way to explain it.
Widar: Now the correct pronunciation is "Entschuldigung," but you might hear some people pronounce it like "'schuldigung." They leave out the prefix "Ent."
Rebecca: Yeah, you do hear this a lot.
Widar: It's quite common in spoken German nowadays. But the correct way to say it is "Entschuldigung," so we recommend that.
Rebecca: Can we hear it again?
Widar: "Entschuldigung."
Rebecca: "Entschuldigung." ("Excuse me." "Sorry.")
Widar: Okay. Let's check out the next phrase. Actually, it's a pair of two phrases.
"Bitte." "Danke."
English: "Please." "Thanks."
Man: "Bitte." "Bit-te." "Bitte."
Woman: "Danke." "Dan-ke." "Danke."
Rebecca: Ooh, this one is big. You hear this one all the time. The nuance of this phrase varies a little bit depending on the situation, but I think the underlying message is always the same…"Please!" and the response "Thanks!"
Widar: You can ask for a tangible object by first saying what you need and then adding "Bitte" ("Please").
Rebecca: It's a pretty easy way to ask for something. So, what's "A coffee, please" in German?
Widar: "Einen Kaffee bitte."
Rebecca: "A coffee please." When you get more into business, you'll find that it's used more to ask favors of or to make requests of other people. It's kind of like "Can you take care of this for me, please?" or even "thanks in advance."
Widar: And "Bitte" can also be used to answer a request. Imagine that you're having brunch in a nice restaurant with a friend, and you can't reach the butter. Then you can say "Butter bitte" ("Butter, please."), and he will give you the butter and will also say "Bitte" ("Please") when handing it over to you.
Rebecca: This brings up the other word, "danke" ("thanks"). It's a less formal way of thanking, but it's very common because it's short. So in this brunch situation, he will hand you over the butter saying "Bitte," and your response will be "Danke."
Widar: Though "danke" is not too formal, it's VERY commonly used because it's short and quickly spoken. "Danke."
Rebecca: "Danke" ("Thanks."). If you want to show off your manners, you can say "Herzlichen Dank," which literally means "heartful thanks."
Widar: "Herzlichen Dank" comes from the heart, and your host will be very pleased to hear you say this.
Rebecca: And if you feel the need to refuse something, you can just put "nein" ("no") in front of "danke." "Nein danke." ("No, thanks.")
Widar: This is simple. Great. Let's listen to the next phrase.
"Das verstehe ich nicht."
English: "I don't understand this."
Man: "Das verstehe ich nicht." "Das ver-ste-he ich nicht." "Das verstehe ich nicht."
Woman: "Das verstehe ich nicht." "Das ver-ste-he ich nicht." "Das verstehe ich nicht."
Rebecca: This phrase is going to be your best friend, go-to phrase, and solace. When a barrage of German follows your perfectly accented "Guten Tag," you can stop the person opposite you and tell him or her "Das verstehe ich nicht" ("I don't understand.").
Widar: Literally, "Das verstehe ich nicht" means "This understand I do not," but it's translated as "I don't understand this."
Rebecca: This may be a high-frequency phrase for you at first. Nobody will blame you for not being able to follow their fast-talking.
Widar: Yeah. These four words seem to have dramatic effect…and your counterpart will likely become very compassionate to your dilemma. He or she will translate the words you don't know or explain the situation comprehensibly.
Rebecca: Yes, because your counterpart will want to communicate with you and involve you in the discussion. Can you say this important phrase once more, "bitte?"
Widar: "Das verstehe ich nicht." Okay. Let's listen to the next phrase.
Rebecca: Yes, here's another phrase for when you're in doubt.
"Ich weiß nicht."
English: "I don't know."
Man: "Ich weiß nicht." "Ich weiß nicht." "Ich weiß nicht."
Woman: "Ich weiß nicht."
Widar: This is such a common phrase.
Rebecca: Yes, and it's not just for times when you don't know something. Learn from the Germans how to "Ich weiß nicht" every situation you wish to evade, play dumb about, or avoid.
Widar: Yes, we are good at being evasive!
Rebecca: Imagine it's Friday night. You just finished dinner with some German friends, and now they give you choices of what to do…going clubbing, watching a film in the movie theater, or doing something else. After each choice they give you, you can tell them "Ich weiß nicht."
Widar: I hope they have enough options to offer… (laughing).
Rebecca: The point is that it's more polite to use this phrase than directly turn down their suggestions.
Widar: Yeah. Well, it's a phrase that you can use in multiple situations. For example, if a pedestrian asks you how late it is, but you forgot your watch at home, you can tell him "Ich weiß nicht" ("I don't know.").
Rebecca: And in many more situations.
Widar: I think that just about does it for today!
Rebecca: "Ich weiß nicht." (laughing)
Widar: (laughing) Don't make fun of me!
Rebecca: "Entschuldigung." We've gone over our top five must-know phrases in German. Let's recap them before we go. What did we study?
Widar:
1. "Guten Tag." – "Good day." "Hello." (formal)
"Hallo." – "Hi." "Hey." (informal)
2. "Entschuldigung." – "Excuse me." "I'm sorry."
3. "Bitte." – "Please."
"Danke." – "Thanks."
4. "Das verstehe ich nicht." – "I don't understand this."
5. "Ich weiß nicht." – "I don't know."
Rebecca: Knowing these words and phrases will take you a long way. So keep them in mind, and we'll see you next time on GermanPod101.com!
Widar: Ok. Some of our listeners already know about the most powerful tool on GermanPod101.com
Rebecca: line-by-line audio.
Widar: The perfect tool for rapidly improving listening comprehension...
Rebecca: by listening to lines of the conversation again and again.
Widar: Listen until every word and syllable becomes clear. Basically, we breakdown the dialog into comprehensible, bite-size sentences.
Rebecca: You can try the line-by-line audio in the Premium Learning Center at GermanPod101.com
Widar: That does it for this lesson.
Rebecca: See you next time!
Widar: Auf Wiedersehen.
Rebecca: Goodbye!

4 Comments

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GermanPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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Do you have any top 5 German Phrases?

GermanPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 5:45 am
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Hi JoJo,


Thank you for commenting! I hope you enjoy learning German with us!


Katrin

Team GermanPod101.com

JoJo
Monday at 3:17 am
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Very useful for beginner like me.

Salivia_Baker
Sunday at 10:57 pm
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Sometimes people also say "tschuldigung" instead of "Entschuldigung" Just leave of the "En-". But that is more in a casual situation. I would never say that to a stranger but I use it for family and friends.


You can also hear people say "Bitte sehr", it's always used in a situation where you give something to another person (or do something for him/her) as said in the lesson.