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150+ Basic German Phrases for Immediate Interaction with Native Speakers

Achieve fluency in German you want, speak you must—lots.

Yoda

Alright, alright the little green goblin (and most honored Jedi master) from “Star Wars” did not actually say those words. Yet, if he did, he couldn’t be more correct.

In the quest for German fluency, nothing is more important than getting words out in front of other human beings (preferably those who also speak the language). There is simply no substitute for speaking.

Not spending your whole day studying German vocabulary.

Nor any amount of hours watching German YouTube videos and listening to podcasts.

Not even reading books or e-books.

These just aren’t the same as speaking.

There is only so much you can achieve when learning German by yourself. At some point, you really need to interact with other people.

However, when it comes to having conversations with strangers, the first step is always the hardest.

What if you are just starting out? What if you have never interacted in German before? How do you know what to say?

Well, it would probably help to have some sort of cheat sheet at hand. You know, like a list of basic German phrases for different situations that you can just whip out to make yourself understood immediately. Right?

Darn right it would! Lucky for you, we have just the thing, right here, organized by categories and in ascending difficulty. Can I get an “Awesome!”? Thank you.

150+ Basic German Phrases for Immediate Interaction with Native Speakers

Minimum Viable German Phrases: The Bare Basics

Alright, to ease you in, we will start off with the most barebone words and phrases. Nothing that will get you too far on its own, but a handful of bits that will at least allow you to show your willingness to make an effort.

  • Entschuldigung – Excuse me
  • Hallo – Hello
  • Danke – Thank you
  • … bitte. – … please.
  • Ja – Yes
  • Nein – No
  • Nein, danke. – No, thank you.
  • Gern geschehen. – You’re welcome.
  • Tschüss! – Bye!
  • Gesundheit! – Bless you!

Basic German Greetings

That wasn’t so hard now, was it? Didn’t think so. Let’s get a little more proactive then and learn how to make first contact and exchange some basic pleasantries. Don’t worry, Germans usually don’t bite.

  • Guten Morgen – Good morning
  • Guten Tag – Good day
  • Guten Abend – Good evening
  • Wie geht es Ihnen? – How are you? (formal)
  • Wie geht es dir? – How are you? (informal)
  • Mir geht es gut, danke. – I am fine, thank you.
  • Freut mich zu hören! – Happy to hear that!
  • Mir geht es nicht so gut. – I don’t feel too well.
  • Ich hoffe, es geht Ihnen/dir bald besser. – I hope you feel better soon. (formal/informal)
  • Machs gut! – Take care!
  • Komm gut nach hause! – Get home safe!
  • Bis dann! – See you!
  • Bis später! – See you later!
  • Bis gleich! – See you soon!
  • Auf Wiedersehen! – Goodbye!
  • Einen schönen Tag noch! – Have a nice day!
  • Gute Nacht! – Have a good night!
  • Schönes Wochenende! – Have a nice weekend!

How to Ask for Assistance in German

Ok, now that you are able to establish contact with a German speaker, we can get a little more specific. As a stranger in a strange land, many times you will find yourself needing help from a local. The phrases below will make this a little easier.

  • Sprechen Sie Englisch? – Do you speak English?
  • Ich spreche leider nicht so viel Deutsch. – Unfortunately I don’t speak German too well.
  • Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch. – I only speak a little German.
  • Ich brauche eine Auskunft. – I need some information.
  • Ich brauche Hilfe. – I need help.
  • Kennen Sie sich hier aus? – Do you know the area?
  • Bin ich hier richtig? – Am I in the right place?
  • Wie heißt X auf Deutsch? – What is X called in German?
  • Wie sagt man X auf Deutsch? – How do you say X in German?
  • Können Sie das übersetzen? – Could you translate that?
  • Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe! – Thanks a lot for your help!

If you want to use the old “get in contact with strangers by asking for the time” trick, this article on German time phrases might be just the thing for you.

Phrases for Socializing in German

Now it’s time to get a little more personal. While Germans have a reputation of not being the most warm-blooded people in the world, don’t be deceived by the stereotype. With the below phrases, you might just forge some lifelong friendships.

  • Wie ist Ihr Name?/Wie heißt du? – What is your name? (formal/informal)
  • Ich heiße X/Mein Name ist X. – My name is X.
  • Woher kommen Sie?/Woher kommst du? – Where do you come from? (formal/informal)
  • Ich komme aus X. – I come from X.
  • Wo wohnen Sie?/Wo wohnst du? – Where do you live? (formal/informal)
  • Wie alt sind Sie?/Wie alt bist du? – How old are you? (formal/informal)
  • Ich bin X Jahre alt. – I am X years old.
  • Was machen Sie/Was machst du beruflich? – What do you do for work? (formal/informal)
  • Ich bin X von Beruf. – My job is X.
  • Was machen Sie außerhalb der Arbeit? – What do you do outside of work? (formal)
  • Was machst du sonst so? – What else do you do? (informal)
  • Meine Hobbies sind X, Y und Z. – My hobbies are X, Y and Z.
  • Ich mache gerne X. – I like to do X.
  • Können Sie/Kannst du langsamer sprechen? – Can you speak slower? (formal/informal)
  • Können Sie/Kannst du das bitte wiederholen? – Can you repeat that please? (formal/informal)
  • Verstehen Sie?/Verstehst du? – Do you understand? (formal/informal)
  • Ich verstehe nicht. – I don’t understand.
  • Tut mir leid. – I am sorry.
  • Hat mich gefreut Sie/dich kennenzulernen. – It was nice meeting you. (formal/informal)

Talking About Food and Drink in German: Beyond Bier and Sauerkraut

Nice job, you actually got a rudimentary conversation going there! If you continue like this, you might just end up on a night out with your new German acquaintances. In that case, the next batch of phrases will be a real life saver.

  • Haben Sie/Hast du Hunger? – Are you hungry? (formal/informal)
  • Haben Sie/Hast du Durst? – Are you thirsty? (formal/informal)
  • Wollen wir etwas zusammen essen/trinken gehen? – Shall we get something to eat/drink together?
  • Frühstück – Breakfast
  • Mittagessen – Lunch
  • Abendessen – Dinner
  • Ich möchte einen Tisch reservieren. – I’d like to reserve a table.
  • Einen Tisch für zwei/drei/vier bitte. – A table for two/three/four, please.
  • Ich habe eine Reservierung. – I have a reservation.
  • Kann ich/Können wir die Speisekarte/Getränkekarte/Weinkarte haben bitte? – Can I/Can we see the menu/drinks/wine menu please?
  • Was ist das? – What is this?
  • Können Sie etwas empfehlen? – Can you recommend something?
  • Haben Sie etwas vegetarisches? – Do you have something vegetarian?
  • Ich esse kein/keine X. – I don’t eat X.
  • Ich bin allergisch gegen X. – I am allergic to X.
  • Gut, das nehme ich. – Ok, I will take that.
  • Ich hätte gerne X. – I’d like to have some X please.
  • Eine Portion X bitte. – I’d like to have a serving of X please.
  • Ein Bier bitte! – A beer please!
  • Prost! – Cheers!
  • Das Gleiche nochmal bitte. – The same again, please.
  • Guten Appetit. – Bon appetit.
  • Für mich nichts, danke. – Nothing for me, thank you.
  • Ich bin satt. – I am full.
  • Mir ist schlecht. – I feel sick.
  • Entschuldigen Sie bitte, wo ist die Toilette? – Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
  • Einen Kaffee bitte! – One coffee, please!
  • Die Rechnung bitte. – The check, please!
  • Kann ich eine Quitting haben bitte? – Can I have a receipt, please?

Getting Around in German: Cruising Down the Autobahn

Even though you might have already made some friends to hang out with, that is no reason to neglect your sightseeing. Who knows when you will be back? Study the phrases below so you don’t get lost in the process.

  • Entschuldigung, können Sie mir sagen wo X ist? – Excuse me, can you tell me where X is?
  • Ich suche das Museum/den Park/das Hotel. – I am looking for the museum/park/hotel.
  • Ist das in der Nähe? – Is that close by?
  • Ist das weit von hier? – Is that far from here?
  • In welcher Richtung ist das? – In which direction is that?
  • Nach links. – To the left.
  • Nach rechts. – To the right.
  • Geradeaus. – Straight on.
  • Wo ist die U-bahn/der Bus? – Where is the subway/bus?
  • Fährt dieser Bus/diese Bahn nach X? – Does this bus/train go to X?
  • Wieviel kostet eine Fahrt nach X? – How much is a ticket to X?
  • Muss ich umsteigen? – Do I have to transfer?
  • Wo finde ich ein Taxi? – Where do I find a taxi?
  • Zum Bahnhof/Flughafen bitte. – To the train station/airport please.
  • Bitte bringen Sie mich zu dieser Adresse. – Please take me to this address.
  • Bitte halten Sie hier an. – Please stop here.
  • Haben Sie einen Stadtplan? – Do you have a city map?
  • Können Sie mir das auf der Karte zeigen? – Can you show me on the map?
  • Ich habe mich verlaufen. – I am lost.
  • Ich habe eine Reservierung. – I have a reservation.
  • Haben Sie noch Zimmer frei? – Do you have rooms available?
  • Ich hätte gerne ein Zimmer/ein Doppelzimmer. – I’d like to have a room/double room.
  • Ist Frühstück inklusive? – Is breakfast included?
  • Können Sie mir ein Restaurant in der Nähe empfehlen? – Can your recommend a restaurant nearby?
  • Können Sie mich um X Uhr wecken? – Can you wake me at X o’clock?
  • Bis wann muss ich auschecken? – Until when do I have to check out?

For more German travel phrases (all 134 of them!), don’t miss this article.

Shopping Phrases for German Learners: Konsumterror!

And while you are in full tourist mode, don’t forget to get your shopping done. Whether you need everyday things during your stay or are looking for something to take home to your loved ones, these sentences will get you what you want.

  • Was möchten Sie? – What do you want?
  • Suchen Sie etwas? – Are you looking for something?
  • Ich suche X. – I am looking for X.
  • Verkaufen Sie X? – Do you sell X?
  • Haben Sie Souvenirs/Andenken? – Do you have souvenirs?
  • Wieviel kostet das? – How much is this?
  • Haben Sie das auch in einer anderen Größe/Farbe? – Do you have this in another size/color?
  • Können Sie mir darauf Rabatt geben? – Can I have a discount?
  • Kann ich bar bezahlen? – Can I pay in cash?
  • Kann ich mit Kreditkarte bezahlen? – Can I pay with a credit card?
  • Können Sie das als Geschenk einpacken? – Could you wrap this as a present?

German Phrases for Emergencies: I Need a Krankenwagen!

God forbid you ever have an emergency while being abroad (or at your home for that matter), however, it’s always a good idea to adhere to the boyscout motto: Always be prepared! So learn the following by heart and hope you never have to use them.

  • Hilfe! – Help!
  • Feuer! – Fire!
  • Es brennt! – Fire!
  • Rufen Sie die Polizei/die Feuerwehr/einen Krankenwagen! – Call the police/firefighters/an ambulance!
  • Wo ist das Krankenhaus? – Where is the hospital?
  • Wo ist die Apotheke? – Where is the pharmacy?
  • Ich bin krank. – I am sick.
  • Wie komme ich zum Konsulat von X? – How do I get to the X consulate?
  • Lassen Sie mich in Ruhe! – Leave me alone!

Bonus Round: German Slang Phrases

Phew, now that we got through that, I think you deserve some fun. Here’s a little something extra that will really make you shine in front of German speakers. Not all of them are useful, but dropping them strategically will definitely give you extra street cred.

  • Moin, moin! – Morning/Hi/Hello/Good day/How are you? (especially used in Northern Germany)
  • Geil! – Awesome/Rad!
  • Dit jefällt ma. – I like it (Berlinian dialect for Das gefällt mir.)
  • Na? – Hey, what’s up/how are you? (Rarely has one syllable expressed so much. You can even answer with Naaa? to say “I’m good, how about you?”)
  • Deine Mudder! – Your mom! (Used especially in Northern German to express doubt about the validity of the speakers statement)

Basic German Phrases in a Nutshell

Having a list of phrases ready for many different situations is a good way of quickly getting into interactions with natives. Talking to people is an important, if not the most important step on the road to fluency.

The list above is far from exhaustive. If you want to improve your knowledge in German slang phrases, get ready for summer in Berlin or dabble in the language of romance, these links will open up new realms of knowledge for you.

The important thing is that you actually go out there and practice your newfound phrases (on unwitting strangers). You’ll be surprised how much others appreciate the effort. From there it’s only a matter of time until you speak like a native yourself. Yoda would be proud of you (I mean, proud of you be he would.)

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