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Whether it’s for vacation, curiosity, or necessity, you can hit the ground running and learn German by familiarizing yourself with some of these basic German phrases. Grammar alone won’t teach you how the language is used by the 229 million German speakers worldwide, so it’s a good idea to begin with simple phrases like how to say “Hello,” or how to say “I love you” in German.
Here’s a German language primer for the basic aspects of German grammar and pronunciation, as well as a short list of common German phrases to get you started speaking German today.
Basic German Phrases Grammar Primer
Learning German might not be as difficult as you imagine after you take note of the numerous similarities between the English and German languages. In German, a sentence with a simple main clause can be written in a similar order to that in English (subject+verb+object). However, unlike in English, the word order in a main clause can also be rearranged to emphasize something other than the subject by putting it first.
A huge leg up for English speakers is that the German alphabet shares the same 26 letters as the English alphabet, plus the characters ä, ö, ü, and ß. However, the German language does have a few sounds not found in English. Let’s take a look at some of the more challenging sounds.
In German, the digraph “ch” sounds like the hiss a cat might make in words such as ich (I), mich (me/myself) and Licht (light). In words like Buch (book) and Bach (stream), it sounds like the Scottish pronunciation of the “ch” in Loch Ness. “V” can be pronounced as “v” or as “f”, and “w” sounds like “v”. While the scharfes S, ß, looks tricky, you can make its sound as an “ss.”
The vowels “a,” “o,” and “u” have differing pronunciation if they are used with the umlaut (¨) as in ä, ö, and ü.
Basic German Phrases
German is a language with some tricky parts, but the basic conversational building blocks are a great place to start. Simple phrases like “Good morning” and “How are you?” grease the wheels of daily conversation in most every language, including German.
Guten Tag. / Good morning.
Hallo. (most often used as a telephone greeting, not in face-to-face greetings) / Hello.
Ich heiße … / My name is …
Sprechen Sie Englisch? / Do you speak English?
Wie heißt du? / What’s your name?
Wie geht es dir? / How are you?
Gut, danke. / Fine, thank you.
Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen. / Nice to meet you.
Tisch für zwei bitte. / Table for two, please.
Wo ist die Toilette? / Where is the bathroom?
Danke. / Thank you.
Wie komme ich zu …? / How can I get to …?
Gibt es ein Restaurant in der Nähe? / Is there a restaurant nearby?
Ich liebe dich. / I love you.
Wie viel kostet das …? / How much is this …?
Es tut mir leid, ich verstehe das nicht. / Sorry, I don’t understand.
Haben Sie noch Zimmer frei? / Do you have any rooms available?
Auf Wiedersehen. / Goodbye.
How to Pronounce German Phrases
Because German is a much more phonetically consistent language than English, German words almost always sound the way they are spelled. You can use this phonetic knowledge to pronounce long, multi-syllable words that otherwise might be overwhelming. Rosetta Stone offers an effective way of learning German words and phrases, and getting the pronunciation just right is a snap with TruAccent®, Rosetta Stone’s patented speech recognition technology.
From the very first lesson, Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent® speech engine will help you fine-tune your pronunciation. Because there’s no point in knowing the words if people can’t understand what you’re saying.
Rosetta Stone has one very specific goal: to get you speaking confidently. We go beyond standard lessons to let you practice whichever way works best for you–whether that’s studying common phrases, reading interesting blog articles (like this one featuring German shows, movies, and songs), or talking to our native-speaking tutors–so you’ll be ready to have real-world conversations.
German is a language that may take you a bit to find your footing in, but once you have a handle on the grammar and basic structure, it’s much like any other language: practice makes perfect.
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Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation.
The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.