Aussprache / Pronunciation

Here’s how different letters sound in German.

  • ie - Pronounced like the ee in “see”.
  • ei - Pronounced like the English “eye” or like i in “fire”.
  • eu - Pronounced like oy in “boy”.
  • ch - In most cases, it’s pronounced like the English sh as in “sheep”. In some cases, it’s a guttural kh sound, similar to the Scottish “loch”.
  • d - Pronounced similar to the English d but if it’s at the end of a word or syllable, it’s pronounced like t.
  • g - Pronounced similar to the English g in most cases but if at the end of a word, it’s sometimes pronounced like sh. For example, billig (meaning “cheap”) is pronounced “billish”.
  • j - Pronounced like the y in “yes”.
  • r - Pronounced as a guttural or uvular sound, similar to the French r or Urdu غ. At the end of a word or syllable, it can be very weak or nearly silent.
  • v - Usually pronounced like f, but in some foreign words it can be like the English v.
  • z - Pronounced like ts in “cats”.
  • s - At the beginning of words or syllables, it’s pronounced like z in “zoo”. Elsewhere, it’s like the English s.
  • sp and st at the beginning of a word are pronounced as “shp” and “sht”, respectively.
  • ß (Eszett or sharp S) - Pronounced like a sharp s as in “hiss”.
  • w - Pronounced like English v.
  • h - Pronounced similar to English at the beginning of a syllable. Silent if it follows a vowel in the same syllable.

Pronomen / Pronouns

  • ich - (I): 1st person singular.
  • du - (informal “you”): 2nd person singular, informal.
  • sie - (she, they): 3rd person singular feminine; 3rd person plural.
  • Sie - (formal “you”): 2nd person singular and plural, formal.
  • er - (he): 3rd person singular masculine.
  • es - (it): 3rd person singular neuter.
  • wir - (we): 1st person plural.
  • ihn - (him): 3rd person singular masculine (accusative).
  • ihr - (her): 3rd person singular feminine (dative); 2nd person plural, informal.
  • euch - (you all): 2nd person plural, informal (dative/accusative).
  • uns - (us): 1st person plural (dative/accusative).

Hilfsverben / Helping Verbs

  • ist - (is): 3rd person singular.
    • Er ist (He is).
  • bin - (am): 1st person singular.
    • Ich bin (I am).
  • sind - (are): 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person plural + 2nd person singular.
    • Sie sind (“They are” or “You are”, depending on context).
  • bist - (are): 2nd person singular, used with du.
    • Du bist (You are).
  • seid - (are): 2nd person plural, used with ihr.
    • Ihr seid die besten (You (plural) are the best).
  • war - (was): 1st and 3rd person singular, past tense.
    • Ich war bekifft (I was high).
  • waren - (were): plural past tense
    • Wir waren spät (We were late).
  • wird - (will): future tense, singular.
    • Sie wird gehen (She will go).
  • werden - (will): future tense, plural.
    • Sie werden gehen (They will go).
  • kann - (can): 1st and 3rd person singular, present tense.
    • Ich kann dies tun (I can do this).

Adverbien / Adverbs

Unlike English, German adverbs follow the main verb rather than precede it.

  1. Du kochst nie (You never cook).
  2. Er spielt auch Klavier (He also plays the piano).
  3. Das Sandwich kostet wirklich neun euro (The sandwich really costs nine euros).
  • auch - (also)
  • zu - (too)
  • nie - (never)
  • immer - (always)
  • oft - (often)
  • manchmal - (sometimes)
  • natürlich - (of course)
  • wirklich - (really)

Possessivpronomen / Possessive Pronouns

  • mein, dein - (my, your): Masculine/neuter nominative singular.
    • Mein/Dein Hund ist klug (My/Your dog is smart).
  • meine, deine - (my, your): Feminine nominative and accusative singular, plural for all genders in nominative and accusative.
    • Meine/Deine Katze ist groß (My/Your cat is tall) - Possessive is suffixed with “e” because the noun (Katze) is feminine.
  • meinen, deinen - (my, your): Masculine accusative singular.
    • Ich liebe meinen/deinen Hund (I love my/your dog) - “Meinen/Deinen” because of accusative case and because the noun (Hund) is masculine.

Konjunktionen / Conjunctions

  • und - (and)
  • oder - (or)
  • aber - (but)
  • denn - (because)
  • sondern - (but, on the contrary)
  • wenn - (if, when)
  • obwohl - (although)
  • weil - (because)
  • da - (as, since)
  • trotzdem - (nevertheless)

Interrogativwörter / Interrogative Words

  • was - (what)
  • wo - (where)
  • wann - (when)
  • wie - (how)
  • warum - (why)
  • weshalb - (why, for what reason)
  • wer - (who)
  • wem - (to whom, dative)
  • wen - (whom, accusative)
  • woher - (from where)
  • wohin - (to where)