german-words

100 Most Common German Words

The German language includes hundreds of thousands of words (or millions, depending on how you count them).

But don’t get overwhelmed—there’s no need to learn them all at once.

Why don’t you start with the 100 most common German words? 

These words are used often in conversation, and will get you a long way in understanding and communicating in German.

Contents


Nouns and Articles

Nouns are easy to spot in German sentences. They’re almost always capitalized and attached to an article.

The German articles der (masculine), die (feminine) and das (neutral) all mean “the,” while the articles ein (masculine/neutral) or eine (feminine) mean “a.” The plural article is die

Calendar Words

All of the days of the week and months of the year are masculine in German, so they take the articles ein/der/die.

German wordEnglish translation
heute ​​ (not capitalized or attached to an article)today
der​ Tag ​​​day
die Woche ​​​week
​das Jahr ​​​year
Sonntag ​​ ​Sunday
Montag ​​​Monday
Dienstag ​​​Tuesday
Mittwoch ​​​​Wednesday (translates directly to "middle of the week")
Donnerstag ​​​Thursday
Freitag ​​​Friday
Samstag ​​Saturday
Januar​ ​​January
Februar​ February
Mä​rz ​​​March
April​​ ​​April
Mai ​​​May
Juni ​​​June
Juli​ ​​July
August​ ​​August
September​ ​​September
Oktober ​​ October
November ​​​November
Dezember​ ​​December

Common Nouns

Here are some of the most common German nouns for family members, places and more:

German wordEnglish translation
die Familiefamily
der Vaterfather
​die Muttermother
​der Bru​der ​​brother
​die Schwestersister
​das Babybaby
​der Sohnson
​die Tochterdaughter
die Leutepeople
der Freundfriend
die Stadtcity
das Haushouse
das Dingthing
die Arbeitwork
das Geldmoney
das Essenfood

Personal Pronouns

As with most languages, personal pronouns are some of the most common words spoken or written, so it’s important to know them well. Here are the German nominative pronouns which are used as subjects of sentences:

German wordEnglish translation
ich I
du you (informal)
Sie you (formal, singular or plural)
er he
sie she, they
es it
wir we
ihr you (informal, plural)

As you can see, there are three sie formations. To figure out which pronoun is meant, look at the conjugated verb. If the verb is conjugated to the er/sie/es form, the sie meaning “she” is used. Sie is always capitalized to show it’s formal.

There’s one special pronoun that’s unique to German that might trip up first-time speakers. This pronoun is man and it means the general “you” or “one.” Here are a few examples:

Wie sagt man “suitcase” auf Deutsch? (How do you/does one say “suitcase” in German?)

Wo kann man frisches Essen finden? (Where can one find fresh food?)

Essential Verbs

Verbs are always conjugated depending on the subject and tense of the sentence. You’ll almost always find the verb near the beginning of your phrase. Here are 10 very common German verbs:

German wordEnglish translation
haben to have
sein to be
​mü​ssen to have to / to must
​kö​nnen to be able to / can
wollen to want
sagen ​​​to say
kommen to come
gehen to go
trinken to drink
essen to eat

Adjectives

Adjectives are used to describe nouns, and their endings change to indicate the case of the noun. While adjective endings are a whole lesson in themselves, get started by learning these essential German adjectives to create basic descriptive sentences:

German wordEnglish translation
gut good
schlecht bad
super super/very cool
schö​n beautiful
hä​sslich ugly
heiβ ​​​hot
kalt cold

Numbers 1 Through 20

Don’t forget to learn your German numbers, so you can do everything from making restaurant reservations to catching your train on the right platform.

German wordEnglish translation
eins one
​zwei​ two
​drei​ three
​vier ​ ​four
​fü​​nf​ five
​sechs ​ ​six
​sieben ​ ​seven
​acht​ eight
​neun ​ ​nine
​zehn ​ ​ten
​elf​ eleven
​zwö​lf​ twelve
​dreizehn ​ ​thirteen
​vierzehn​ fourteen
​fü​​nf​zehn​ fifteen
​sechsehn ​ ​sixteen
​siebzehn​ seventeen
​achtzehn ​ ​eighteen
​neunzehn ​ ​nineteen
​zwanzig ​ ​twenty

Prepositions

Prepositions are great at linking your ideas together and providing more information. You can use prepositions to describe location, purpose, timing, etc. All prepositions have a case, so check your grammar as you use them!

German wordEnglish translation
nach after
fü​r for
​zu to
​​ohne without
​mit​ with
​um​ at

Phrases and Expressions

Words are one thing; being able to complete a thought in German is quite another! Here are some common German phrases you can memorize:

German wordEnglish translation
​Hallo! Hello!
​​​Guten Morgen​ / ​​​Guten Tag / ​​​Guten Abend​ Good morning / Good day / Good evening
Wie geht es dir? ​/ Wie geht's?​ How are you doing?/How are you?
Was machst du? What are you doing?
Wo ist das Badezimmer? ​​Where's the bathroom?
Ich heiβ​e... ​​My name is...
​Danke!​ Thank you!
​Bitte​ Please (or "You're welcome" when said after danke)
​Entschuldigung​ Excuse me
​Auf Wiedersehen!​ Goodbye!

Bonus: Common Idioms​​

Idioms are the best way to pick up on any new language and learn more about the culture. Here are a few commonly used German idioms that might come in handy:

“Die Daumen drü​cken.”

“To press the thumbs.” This is the German version of “cross your fingers.” Sometimes, just like Americans do, the Germans will actually perform the action and press their thumbs.

“Du nimmst mich auf den Arm!”

“You hold me by the arm!” Very similar to “pulling one’s leg,” this German phrase translates to something like “no way” or “you’re kidding me.”

“Wer nicht vorwärts geht, der kommt zurück.”

This translates roughly to “whoever isn’t going forward is going backward.” It’s a German saying that promotes proactive behavior and movement toward the future, whatever it may be.

“Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.”

Because what is Germany without ​Wurst​? Germans who say this mean everything has an end, and only a sausage has two. Basically, whatever is going on will come to an end sooner or later.

“Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!”​

This means “Everything good to you on your birthday.” Rather than say “Happy Birthday,” this is what Germans might call you up and say when you’re another year older.

“Frosch im Hals haben.”

Meaning to have “a frog in one’s throat,” this phrase refers to a coarse voice.

“Noch grü​n hinter den Ohren sein.”

To still be green behind the ears. Those of us who are still new to something might’ve heard this from our older or more experienced colleagues.

Why Learn the 100 Most Common German Words

Knowing common words and phrases in German will help you in many ways. For one thing, you’ll have a starting point to converse with native German speakers, which is one of the most important and effective ways to actually get fluent in the language.

You’ll be able to understand essential questions and express basic needs and desires. You’ll also be prepared to move on to more complex German structures, including those pesky grammar rules and the ever-confusing—but incredibly entertaining—idioms.

As your memorization momentum builds, your confidence will grow, too. You might find that you get hooked on vocabulary building!

One great way to take advantage of that momentum is to use FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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And you’ll be sure to encounter many of the 100-plus words listed above!

 

There you have it! Try out these words and phrases next time you have a chance and always remember to practice your German!

And One More Thing...

Want to know the key to learning German effectively?

It's using the right content and tools, like FluentU has to offer! Browse hundreds of videos, take endless quizzes and master the German language faster than you've ever imagine!

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Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.

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You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don't know, you can add it to a vocabulary list.

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And FluentU isn't just for watching videos. It's a complete platform for learning. It's designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.

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The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you're learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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