Learning a new language can be daunting, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Whether you’re planning a trip to Germany, or just want to impress your German-speaking friends, learning some common phrases is a great place to start.
But first things first, let’s go over some basic pronunciation rules!
German Pronunciation Rule #1: The letter “a” is pronounced like the “a” in “car”, while “e” sounds like the “e” in “bed”. The letter “i” is pronounced like the “e” in “me”, and “o” sounds like the “o” in “go”.
German Pronunciation Rule #2: The letter u is pronounced like the sound between “oo” and “ew”. With that out of the way, let’s dive into some phrases.
While fluency in any language takes time and effort to achieve, knowing some common phrases can greatly enhance your ability to communicate effectively in everyday situations. This is especially true when traveling or living abroad.
In this article, we will cover some basic phrases that will help you get started on your journey towards fluency in the German language. So let’s dive right in! And after getting your German phrases perfected, check out our article on Do Germans Speak English?
How to Say Hi in German
When greeting someone in German, a common way to say “hi” is “hallo”. This is a straightforward word that can be used in most informal situations, such as when greeting friends or acquaintances. Pronounced like “hah-loh”, it’s a simple word to remember and use.
Another way to greet someone in German is by using the phrase “Guten Tag”. This phrase can be translated as “good day,” and it’s commonly used during the day when speaking with someone you’re not familiar with. Pronounced like “goo-ten tahg”, this phrase can show your politeness towards others.
For even more informal situations, you could say “servus” instead of “hallo”. This term is mainly used among friends or family members and originated from Austria but has since been adopted by Germans as well. It’s pronounced like “sair-voos” and it means something like “hello”.
How to Say I Love You in German
One of the most common ways to say “I love you” in German is “Ich liebe dich.” This phrase is pronounced as “ish lee-buh deesh.” It’s important to note that this phrase is typically used in romantic relationships or situations where you have strong feelings for someone.
If you’re looking for a less intense way to express your affection towards someone, you can use the phrase “Ich hab dich lieb,” which translates as “I have love for you.” This phrase is perfect for expressing your feelings towards family members or close friends. It’s pronounced as “ish hup deesh leeb.”
Another way to express love in a more casual way is by using the word “lieb,” which means love. You can say something like “Du bist mir lieb,” which translates as “You are dear/precious to me.” This phrase can be used for friends or family members and emphasizes affection rather than romantic feelings.
How to Say Thank You in German
Here are some ways to express your gratitude in German and say thank you.
Danke: This is the most common and simple way to say thank you in German. It’s pronounced as “DAHN-kuh”. You can use this phrase in any casual situation, such as when someone holds the door for you or hands you something.
Vielen Dank: This phrase means “thank you very much” and is used for more formal situations or when you want to show extra appreciation. It’s pronounced as “fee-len DAHNK”.
Herzlichen Dank: This phrase literally translates to “heartfelt thanks” and is used when expressing deep gratitude or appreciation. You can use this phrase when someone does something exceptionally kind or helpful for you. It’s pronounced as “HEHRTS-lee-khen DAHNK”.
It’s important to note that Germans appreciate manners and politeness, so always remember to say please (bitte) after requesting something, and thank you (danke) after receiving something.
How to Say Yes in German
The most straightforward way to say “yes” in German is simply “ja” (pronounced yah). This is the equivalent of saying “yeah” or “yep” in English. It’s a quick and easy response that can be used in almost any situation.
Another way of saying yes in German is by using the word “doch” (pronounced doh-kh). This is a bit more nuanced than simply saying “ja,” and it’s often used when contradicting a negative statement. For example, if someone says, “You don’t want to come with us?” you could reply with “Doch!” which would mean something like, “On the contrary, I do want to come with you!”
In some regions of Germany, you might also hear people say “jawohl” (pronounced yah-vohl) as an enthusiastic affirmative. This word has military origins and is similar in meaning to saying “affirmative” or “roger that” like American soldiers might say. It’s not commonly used in everyday conversation but may be used when someone wants to emphasize their agreement or enthusiasm.
How to Say No in German
One of the most common ways to say “no” in German is simply by saying “nein.” This is a straightforward and direct way to say “no,” and it can be used in almost any context.
Another way to say “no” in German is by using the phrase “kein(e).” This translates to “not a/any” in English, and it’s often used when you want to express that something doesn’t exist or isn’t available. For example, if someone offers you some cake but you don’t want any, you could say, “Ich möchte kein Kuchen,” which means “I don’t want any cake.”
If you want to be a bit more polite when saying “no,” you can use the phrase “Es tut mir leid, aber nein.” This translates to something like “I’m sorry, but no,” and it’s a good option when you need to decline an invitation or request. It shows that you’re respecting the other person while still being firm in your answer.
There’s another phrase that can be used when declining an invitation or request: “Vielleicht ein anderes Mal.” This means “maybe another time,” and it’s a good option if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to do what’s being asked of you. It leaves the door open for future possibilities while still giving a clear answer for now.
How to Say Good Morning in German
Guten Morgen! This is how you say “good morning” in German. Germans take their mornings seriously, so it’s important to greet them properly. Here are some other ways to say good morning in German:
Moin: This is a casual way to say good morning and is commonly used in Northern Germany. – Guten Morgen, meine Liebe/mein Lieber: You can add “my love” to make your greeting more affectionate.
Schönen guten Morgen: This translates to “beautiful good morning” and is a bit more formal than just saying “guten Morgen.” It’s also important to note that Germans tend to be punctual, so if you’re meeting someone in the morning, make sure you arrive on time.
How to Say Merry Christmas in German
In German, the phrase for Merry Christmas is “Frohe Weihnachten”.
The word “frohe” means “happy” or “merry”, and “Weihnachten” is the German word for Christmas.
When pronouncing this greeting, remember to use a soft “ch” sound for the “ich” combination in Weihnachten.
IIn addition to saying “Frohe Weihnachten”, you may also hear Germans say “Schöne Weihnachten”, which means Beautiful Christmas. This alternative way of expressing holiday greetings is equally popular and polite.
It’s common practice to exchange small gifts or cards with friends and family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in Germany.
How to Say Goodbye in German
Tschüss: This is the most common way to say bye in German.It’s an informal way of saying goodbye that’s typically used between friends or acquaintances. You can also use it with family members or colleagues you have a good relationship with.
Auf Wiedersehen: This is a more formal way of saying goodbye that’s typically used with people you don’t know very well or in formal settings. It means “until we see each other again” and is often used when leaving a business meeting or a professional setting.
Bis bald: If you want to express the hope of seeing someone again soon, you can use this phrase which means “see you soon”. It can be used both informally and formally.
Mach’s gut: This expression translates to “take care” and is often used when saying goodbye to someone for an extended period of time such as before they go on a trip or after moving away. – Tschau: This word is another informal way to say bye, similar to tschüss.
How to Say You’re Welcome in German
When someone says “danke” or “thank you” in German, it is polite to respond with “bitte” which means “you’re welcome”.
If you want to be a bit more formal or polite, you can say “Bitte sehr“, which translates to mean something like “It was nothing at all” or “Please, it’s my pleasure”. This is a common phrase used in restaurants, shops and other places where customer service is important.
Another way to say “you’re welcome” in German is by using the phrase “Gern geschehen.” This translates to “gladly done” or “happy to help”. It’s a common phrase used when someone does something for you and you want to express your gratitude towards them.
If you’re not comfortable using these phrases, don’t worry – a simple “gerne” will suffice. This word generally means “gladly” and can be used as an answer to many different types of questions. When responding with this phrase, it’s important that your tone of voice indicates that you are happy to help.
In some cases, people might use the phrase “Nichts zu danken” which literally translates into “no need for thanks”. If someone thanks you for doing something relatively simple like cooking them dinner or helping them carry their bags home from the store they might use this response instead of one of the more traditional ones mentioned above.
How to Say How are you in German
The most common way is to say How are you in German is: “Wie geht es dir?” This phrase is pronounced “vee gate ess deer.”
Another way to express this sentiment is “Wie geht’s?” which is pronounced “vee gates.” Germans use these phrases all the time, and it’s a great way to start a conversation with someone.
When you’re talking with someone in German, it’s helpful to remember that Germans tend to be more formal than Americans. It’s always best practice when talking with strangers or people older than yourself to use the formal version of “you”, which is “Sie” instead of “du”.
So instead of saying “Wie geht es dir?” You would say “Wie geht es Ihnen?”. This shows respect and will make a great impression on others.
How to Say Happy Birthday in German
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! (All the best on your birthday!) This is a classic phrase that you’ll hear often in Germany for Happy Birthday. It’s simple and straightforward, and can be used in any context.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag! (Heartfelt congratulations on your birthday!) This phrase is a bit more formal, but still commonly used. It’s a great way to show someone that you really care about their special day.
Ich wünsche dir alles erdenklich Gute zu deinem Geburtstag! (I wish you all the best for your birthday!) This is a longer phrase, but it shows that you’ve put some thought into your birthday wishes. It’s perfect for close friends or family members.
How to Say In in German
If you are learning German, you will quickly realize that the word “in” has a variety of meanings and uses. Here are some of the ways to say “in” in German:
In as a preposition: The most common way to translate “in” is as a preposition, which usually means “inside something”. For example, if you want to say “I’m in the house”, you would say “Ich bin im Haus” (im is short for “in dem”).
In as an adverb: In some cases, “in” can be used as an adverb instead of a preposition. This is often seen when talking about time. For example, if someone asks you when your flight leaves and you want to reply with “in two hours”, you would say “In zwei Stunden”. – In + dative: Another use of in is with the dative case.
This happens when talking about a general location or being in close proximity to something without necessarily being inside it.
For instance, if someone asks where your hometown is and you want to reply with “I live in Berlin”, you would say “Ich wohne in Berlin”.
It’s important to note that like many words in German language, the context plays a big role in determining how it should be translated into English. So always pay attention to what’s going on around the word “in” before selecting one of its various translations!
How to Say F You in German
Let’s face it, sometimes we need to know how to say not-so-polite things in different languages. If you’re looking for a way to tell someone off in German, then you’ll want to learn how to say “f**k you.”
The most common way of saying “f**k you” in German is by using the phrase “F**k dich.” This phrase is widely used and understood. However, it’s important to note that this expression is considered highly offensive and vulgar in any context.
If you’d like to express your anger or frustration without using profanity, there are other ways of conveying a similar message. For example, you could say “Du nervst mich” which means “you’re annoying me” or “Hau ab!” which means “get lost!”
How to Say Bye in German
The most common way to say goodbye in German is simply “Tschüss” (pronounced “choos”), which is a casual and friendly way to say farewell. It’s similar to saying “bye” in English and can be used in most situations.
If you want to be more formal, you can use the phrase “Auf Wiedersehen” (pronounced “owf vee-der-zay-en”), which means “goodbye” or “until we see each other again.” This phrase is often used in professional settings or when saying goodbye to someone you don’t know very well.
Another option is the phrase “Bis später” (pronounced “bis shpah-ter”), which means “see you later.” This phrase is often used when you’re planning on seeing someone again soon, and it’s a friendly and casual way to say goodbye.
If you’re leaving a group of people or a party, you might use the phrase “Tschüssi” (pronounced “choo-see”), which is an informal and playful way of saying goodbye. It’s similar to saying “see ya” in English and is often used among friends or acquaintances.
Ordering Food and Drinks in German
To order food, you can say “Ich hätte gerne…” followed by the item you want to order. For example, if you want to order a burger, you would say “Ich hätte gerne einen Burger”.
It’s also important to know how to ask for the bill or check. You can simply say “Die Rechnung bitte” and the waiter will bring it over.
If you find yourself at a German bar and want to order a drink, there are some key phrases that will come in handy. For example, if you want to order a beer, simply say “Ein Bier bitte”. If you prefer wine instead of beer, say “Ein Glas Wein bitte”.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new ask the bartender for their recommendation by saying “Was würden Sie empfehlen?” which means “What would you recommend?”
Traveling in Germany
Asking for Directions
Navigating an unfamiliar city can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language. However, asking for directions in German is relatively straightforward.
To start, use the phrase “Wo ist” to ask where something is located. For example, “Wo ist der Bahnhof?” means “Where is the train station?” To ask how to get somewhere, use the phrase “Wie komme ich zu.” For instance, “Wie komme ich zum Museum?” means “How do I get to the museum?”
It’s also helpful to know a few directional words like “links” (left), “rechts” (right), “geradeaus” (straight ahead), and “um die Ecke” (around the corner). Don’t worry if your accent isn’t perfect – most Germans will appreciate your effort and try their best to help you!
Buying tickets for Public Transportation
To buy a ticket for a specific destination, use the phrase “Eine Fahrkarte nach…” followed by the name of your destination. For example, if you want a ticket to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the central train station in Berlin), say “Eine Fahrkarte nach Berlin Hauptbahnhof bitte.”
You may need to specify which ticket type you want based on your travel plans – for instance, one-way versus round trip or daily versus weekly passes.
Cultural Expressions and Idioms
One important aspect of German culture is the use of unique expressions and idioms. These phrases can be confusing for non-native speakers, but they can also add depth to your conversations and help you connect with Germans on a deeper level.
Understanding Common German Expressions and Idioms
Here are a few common German expressions and idioms that you might come across:
Ich drück dir die Daumen: This phrase literally translates to “I press my thumbs for you” but it means “I’m rooting for you” or “Good luck!”
Das ist nicht mein Bier: This phrase translates to “That’s not my beer” but it means “That’s not my problem” or “It’s none of my business.”
Die Katze im Sack kaufen: This expression means “to buy a cat in a sack,” which refers to buying something without inspecting it first. It’s similar to the English expression, “buying something sight unseen.”
By mastering these common German phrases, you’ll not only be able to communicate effectively with native speakers, but also impress your friends and family with your newfound language skills.
As you continue to study German, don’t forget to immerse yourself in the culture by listening to German music, watching German films or TV shows, and even cooking traditional German dishes. The more you expose yourself to the language and culture, the faster you’ll pick up new vocabulary and grammar rules.
So go ahead and put these phrases into practice! Say “Guten Morgen” to your coworkers in the morning or “Ich liebe dich” to a loved one.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s all part of the learning process. With dedication and persistence, you’ll be speaking fluent German in no time!