sprechen sie deutsch? written on a blackboard

152 German Expressions That’ll Make You Sound Like a Native

There are certain words and phrases that every language uses on the daily.

If you can learn these German phrases, you’ll find everyday conversation much easier to navigate!

This post contains 152 useful German phrases that are sure to boost your conversational skills and help you out in any situation.


Common German Slang

people sitting around a campfire

These fun German slang phrases will definitely give you extra street cred and impress your German friends.

1. Moin, moin

Meaning: Morning/Hi/Hello/Good day/How are you?

This multi-purpose phrase is mostly used in Northern Germany.

2. Geil

Meaning: Awesome/Cool/Sexy

This slang term can be used for all things good, but tread carefully—it can refer to sexual arousal, too.  

3. Dit jefällt ma

Meaning: I like it

This is Berlinian dialect for Das gefällt mir (I like it).

4. Na?

Meaning: Hey, what’s up?/How are you?

You can even answer this with Naaa? to say “I’m good, how about you?”

5. Basta

Meaning: Period

As in, “end of discussion.” This is useful when you’re not interested in hearing any backchat or excuses. 

6. Quatsch

Meaning: Nonsense/That’s ridiculous

7. Ich habe die Nase voll

Meaning: I’m fed up/I’m sick of it
Literal: I have a full nose

8. Das ist nicht mein Bier

Meaning: Not my problem
Literal: That’s not my beer

You can also say das ist dein Bier (this is your beer) to point out that the thing in question is someone else’s burden to bear.

9. Abwarten und Tee trinken

Meaning: Just wait and see
Literal: Wait and drink tea

10. Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof

Meaning: I don’t understand any of that/It’s all Greek to me
Literal: I only understand train station

11. Es ist mir Wurst

Meaning: I don’t care
Literal: It’s sausage to me

12. Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof

Meaning: Life is no picnic
Literal: Life is not a pony farm

13. Da haben wir den Salat

Meaning: Everything is a mess/Now we’re in a pickle
Literal: Here we’ve got the salad

14. Leben wie Gott in Frankreich

Meaning: Live like a king
Literal: Live like God in France

This phrase is a reflection of the past. At a time in history, royalty lived fancy and rich in the kingdom of France while the German city-states lived in relative poverty, struggling to feed themselves.

15. Der Zug ist schon abgefahren

Meaning: That ship has sailed/The opportunity is gone
Literal: The train has already left

16. Innerer Schweinehund

Meaning: Devil on your shoulder
Literal: Inner pig-dog

The German people’s “inner pig-dog” is the voice in one’s head that steers you wrong.

17. Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund

Meaning: The early bird gets the worm
Literal: Morning hours have gold in the mouth

18. Hunde, die bellen, beißen nicht

Meaning: His bark is worse than his bite
Literal: Dogs that bark don’t bite

Basic Greetings in German

two women talking on a balcony

Now, let’s go over how to say hello to native German speakers and exchange some basic pleasantries. 

19. Hallo

Meaning: Hello

20. Guten Morgen

Meaning: Good morning

This is a common greeting used until noon.

21. Guten Tag

Meaning: Good afternoon

Use this between noon and 6 pm.

22. Guten Abend

Meaning: Good evening

This greeting is used from 6 pm to bedtime.

23. Wie geht es Ihnen?

Meaning: How are you? (formal)

This form should be used with strangers and people who command respect, such as a boss, teacher or elder.

24. Wie geht’s dir?

Meaning: How are you? (informal)

You can use this version of the phrase in more casual interactions, like with friends and family.

25. Mir geht es gut, danke

Meaning: I am fine, thank you

26. Freut mich zu hören

Meaning: Glad to hear it

27. Mir geht es nicht so gut

Meaning: I’m not so good

28. Es tut mir leid

Meaning: I’m sorry

You might also hear the shortened version: tut mir leid.

29. Gesundheit

Meaning: Bless you (said after someone sneezes) 
Literal: Health

30. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Meaning: Happy birthday!

31. Machs gut

Meaning: Take care

32. Bis später

Meaning: See you later

If you know you’re seeing this person again within the next day, you can bid them farewell with this phrase.

33. Bis bald

Meaning: See you soon

If you think you’ll see this person again in the near future but you’re not exactly sure when, you can opt for this expression.

34. Auf Wiedersehen

Meaning: Goodbye

35. Tschüss

Meaning: Bye

36. Gute Nacht

Meaning: Good night

37. Einen schönen Tag noch

Meaning: Have a nice day

38. Schönes Wochenende

Meaning: Have a nice weekend

Asking for Help in German

a crowded station

As a stranger in a German-speaking country, you will likely need help from a local at some point or another; these phrases will make it a little easier.

39. Entschuldigung

Meaning: Excuse me/Sorry

You’ll also likely hear the contracted version when out and about: ‘Schuldigung. 

40. Sprechen Sie Englisch?

Meaning: Do you speak English? (formal)

41. Ja

Meaning: Yes/Yeah

42. Nein

Meaning: No

43. Bitte

Meaning: Please

This word has several important functions in German

44. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch

Meaning: I only speak a little German

45. Ich brauche eine Auskunft

Meaning: I need some information

46. Ich brauche Hilfe

Meaning: I need help

47. Bin ich hier richtig?

Meaning: Am I in the right place?

48. Wie sagt man … auf Deutsch?

Meaning: How do you say … in German?

49. Danke schön

Meaning: Thank you

There are many ways to say thank you in German. Danke schön is like the English “thank you,” whereas danke on its own is like “thanks.”

50. Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe

Meaning: Thanks so much for your help (formal)

51. Gern geschehen

Meaning: You’re welcome

German has other ways to express “you’re welcome,” too.

German Conversational Phrases

three women standing together laughing

These phrases will help you hold a conversation in German—you can even practice before you go! Note that some phrases differ in formality.

52. Wie ist Ihr Name? /Wie heißt du?

Meaning: What is your name? (formal/informal)

53. Ich heiße… /Mein Name ist…

Meaning: My name is…

54. Woher kommen Sie? /Woher kommst du?

Meaning: Where are you from? (formal/informal)

55. Ich komme aus…

Meaning: I’m from…

56. Ich wohne in…

Meaning: I live in…

57. Wie lange bleiben Sie in Deutschland /Österreich /der Schweiz?

Meaning: How long are you staying in Germany/Austria/Switzerland?

58. Ich bleibe eine Woche hier

Meaning: I am staying here for one week

Of course, you can replace eine Woche with something like zwei Wochen (two weeks), sechs Tage (six days), etc.

59. Wie alt sind Sie? /Wie alt bist du?

Meaning: How old are you? (formal/informal)

60. Ich bin 20 Jahre alt

Meaning: I am 20 years old

Brush up on your German numbers so you can replace 20 with your own age.

61. Was machen Sie /Was machst du beruflich?

Meaning: What do you do for work? (formal/informal)

62. Ich bin…

Meaning: I’m a/an…

You don’t need an article in German (words like “a” or “the”) before the job title here, so you’re literally just saying “I am teacher” or whatever your job is.

63. Ich bin verheiratet

Meaning: I’m married

64. Ich bin ledig

Meaning: I’m single

65. Meine Handynummer ist…

Meaning: My cell phone number is…

This is in case your German-speaking crush is single as well. Impress them with some other romantic phrases, too. Or it can be useful for new friends.

66. Ich studiere…

Meaning: I am studying…

Note that this sentence can only be used to state what your major or subject area is, and not what you’re looking at to prepare for the upcoming test.

A few examples of how to fill in the blank: Geschichte (history), Jura (law), Zahnmedizin (dentistry), Volkswirtschaftslehre (economics).

67. Wie viele Geschwister hast du?

Meaning: How many siblings do you have?

68. Ich habe zwei Geschwister

Meaning: I have two siblings

69. Mein Lieblingsfilm ist…

Meaning: My favorite…is…

Note how “favorite film” becomes a one-word noun.

Knowing this, you can talk about your favorite food (Lieblingsessen), favorite sport (Lieblingssport) or favorite author (Lieblingsautor).

70. Ich lerne Deutsch

Meaning: I’m learning German

71. Was machst du sonst so?

Meaning: What else do you do? (informal)

Learn some German words about hobbies so you can bust out this phrase and then understand the response.

72. Ich… gerne

Meaning: I like to…

73. Ich mag…

Meaning: I like…

74. Ich hasse…

Meaning: I hate…

75. Meine Hobbys sind…

Meaning: My hobbies are…

76. Ich stimme dir zu

Meaning: I agree with you

77. Können Sie /Kannst du langsamer sprechen?

Meaning: Can you speak slower? (formal/informal)

78. Können Sie /Kannst du das bitte wiederholen?

Meaning: Can you repeat that please? (formal/informal)

79. Verstehen Sie? /Verstehst du?

Meaning: Do you understand? (formal/informal)

80. Ich verstehe nicht

Meaning: I don’t understand

81. Hat mich gefreut Sie /dich kennenzulernen

Meaning: It was nice meeting you (formal/informal)

Food and Drink in German

various food on two plates

Now that you’ve got a conversation going, you might end up with a meal invite! These German expressions will help you order food and drinks like a native.

82. Haben Sie /Hast du Hunger?

Meaning: Are you hungry? (formal/informal)

83. Haben Sie /Hast du Durst?

Meaning: Are you thirsty? (formal/informal)

84. Wollen wir zusammen was essen gehen?

Meaning: Shall we get something to eat together?

Or: Wollen wir zusammen was trinken gehen? (Shall we get something to drink together?)

85. Frühstück

Meaning: Breakfast

86. Mittagessen

Meaning: Lunch

87. Abendessen

Meaning: Dinner

88. Einen Tisch für vier bitte

Meaning: A table for four, please

At most German restaurants, you’ll just seat yourself at an open table, but if you’re greeted at the door, you can replace vier with the correct number of people in your party.

89. Ich möchte einen Tisch reservieren

Meaning: I’d like to reserve a table

When Germans eat out, they tend to take their time. If you don’t reserve a table (especially at popular restaurants or in bigger cities), you run the risk of having to wait a very long time for a table to open up or maybe not getting a table at all.

To complete the phrase with all the relevant information, you can say: Ich möchte einen Tisch für … Personen um … reservieren (I’d like to reserve a table for … people at … o’clock).

And don’t forget that Germans tend to use the 24 hour clock! When asking for a table at 7 pm, you’ll need to say “nineteen o’clock” in German.

90. Ich habe eine Reservierung

Meaning: I have a reservation

91. Einen Augenblick bitte

Meaning: Wait a minute, please

92. Können wir die Speisekarte haben bitte?

Meaning: Can we see the menu, please?

You can also replace Speisekarte with Getränkekarte (drinks menu) or Weinkarte (wine list).

93. Was ist das?

Meaning: What is this?

94. Können Sie etwas empfehlen?

Meaning: Can you recommend something?

95. Haben Sie etwas vegetarisches /veganisches?

Meaning: Do you have something vegetarian/vegan?

96. Ich esse kein…

Meaning: I don’t eat…

97. Ich bin allergisch gegen…

Meaning: I am allergic to…

98. Ich hätte gerne…

Meaning: I’d like to have…

99. Ein Bier bitte

Meaning: A beer, please

100. Einen Kaffee bitte

Meaning: One coffee, please

You might want to specify whether you want a Milchkaffee (milky coffee) or a Kaffee ohne Milch (coffee without milk). 

101. Prost!

Meaning: Cheers!

102. Guten Appetit

Meaning: Bon appetit

You might also hear: Lass es schmecken! (Enjoy your meal!) 

103. Nichts für mich, danke

Meaning: Nothing for me, thanks

104. Ich bin satt

Meaning: I am full

105. Entschuldigen Sie bitte, wo ist die Toilette?

Meaning: Excuse me, where is the bathroom?

106. Die Rechnung bitte

Meaning: The check, please

107. Kann ich eine Quitting haben bitte?

Meaning: Can I have a receipt, please?

108. Stimmt so

Meaning: Keep the change

German Travel Phrases

two people standing on the sidewalk in front of colorful buildings

I’m sure you want to do plenty of sightseeing while in Germany. Study the useful travel phrases below so you don’t get lost in the process.

109. Darf ich mal durch?

Meaning: Can you let me through?

You might also hear Darf ich mal vorbei? In this phrase, vorbei implies that you’re trying to walk around a person, rather than through a group of them.

110. Entschuldigung, wie komme ich zum…?

Meaning: Excuse me, how do I get to the…?

You’ll want to know the gender of the place you’re going to. You use zum for masculine and neuter nouns like der Bahnhof (the train station) or das Rathaus (the town hall) and zur for feminine nouns like die Kirche (the church).

111. Ich suche das Museum

Meaning: I am looking for the museum

You might replace das Museum with den Park (the park), das Hotel (the hotel) or something similar.

112. Ist das in der Nähe?

Meaning: Is that close by?

113. Ist das weit von hier?

Meaning: Is that far from here?

114. In welcher Richtung ist das?

Meaning: Which direction is that?

115. Nach links /rechts

Meaning: To the left/right

116. Geradeaus

Meaning: Straight on

117. Wo ist die nächste U-bahn /Bushaltestelle?

Meaning: Where is the nearest subway/bus station?

118. Fährt dieser Zug nach…?

Meaning: Does this train go to…?

You might replace Zug with Bus to ask “Does this bus go to…?”

The final preposition depends on the type of place you’re traveling to. Generally, you’ll use nach when referring to specific stations or geographic locations, such as: Fährt dieser Zug nach Wittenau? (Does this train go to Wittenau?) 

You’ll typically use zum (masculine and neuter nouns) or zur (feminine nouns) for places or sites, such as a bank, museum or the park, as in: Fährt dieser Bus zur Nationalgalerie? (Does this bus go to the National Gallery?) 

And you’ll sometimes use in for “traveling into” generic city areas, like Stadtmitte (city center). For example: Fährt dieser Bus in die Stadtmitte? (Does this bus go to the city center?) 

119. Wie viel kostet eine Fahrkarte nach…?

Meaning: How much is a ticket to…?

120. Muss ich umsteigen?

Meaning: Do I have to change?

121. Wo finde ich ein Taxi?

Meaning: Where do I find a taxi?

122. Zum Bahnhof bitte

Meaning: To the train station, please

Use this construction to direct your taxi driver. You might replace zum Bahnhof with zum Flughafen (to the airport) or zur Bushaltestelle (to the bus station), for instance.

123. Bitte halten Sie hier an

Meaning: Please stop here

124. Haben Sie einen Stadtplan?

Meaning: Do you have a city map?

125. Können Sie mir das auf der Karte zeigen?

Meaning: Can you show me that on the map?

126. Ich habe mich verlaufen

Meaning: I’ve gotten lost

127. Haben Sie noch Zimmer frei?

Meaning: Do you have rooms available?

128. Ich bleibe eine Nacht

Meaning: I am staying for one night

Change the number as needed to fit your schedule: zwei Nächte (two nights), drei Nächte (three nights), etc. Notice how the vowel changes from to ä in the plural.

129. Ich hätte gerne ein Zimmer /ein Doppelzimmer

Meaning: I’d like to have a room/a double room

130. Ist das inklusive Frühstück?

Meaning: Is breakfast included?

131. Bis wann muss ich auschecken?

Meaning: When is check-out?

German Shopping Phrases

a woman looking at items on a shop shelf

Whether you need everyday things during your stay or want something to take home to your loved ones, these sentences will help you get what you want.

132. Was möchten Sie?

Meaning: What would you like?

133. Suchen Sie etwas Bestimmtes?

Meaning: Are you looking for something specific?

134. Ich schaue mich nur um

Meaning: I’m just looking around.

135. Ich suche…

Meaning: I am looking for…

136. Verkaufen Sie…?

Meaning: Do you sell…?

137. Was kostet das?

Meaning: How much is this?

138. Haben Sie das auch in einer anderen Größe /Farbe?

Meaning: Do you have this in another size/color?

139. Das ist zu teuer

Meaning: That’s too expensive

140. Können Sie mir einen Rabatt geben?

Meaning: Can you give me a discount?

141. Kann ich bar bezahlen?

Meaning: Can I pay in cash?

Particularly after the pandemic, some places in Europe started to request card payments to reduce cash-handling.

Although the adage nur bar ist wahr (“only cash is true”) is still widely the case in Germany, it might still be worth asking in more modern establishments. 

142. Kann ich mit Kreditkarte bezahlen?

Meaning: Can I pay with a credit card?

Many restaurants and smaller shops in Germany still do not take card payments, so it’s definitely worth knowing how to ask.

143. Um wieviel Uhr öffnet das Geschäft?

Meaning: What time does the shop open?

And the opposite question is: Um wieviel Uhr schließt das Geschäft? (What time does the shop close?)

German Expressions in Cases of Emergency

ambulance driving down the road

Fingers crossed that you never have an emergency in a German-speaking country (or in your home country, for that matter). However, it’s always good to be prepared!

144 Hilfe!

Meaning: Help!

145. Feuer!

Meaning: Fire!

146. Rufen Sie die Polizei!

Meaning: Call the police!

You might need to replace die Polizei with dei Feuerwehr (the fire department) or einen Krankenwagen (an ambulance).

Note that you can also simply call 112 in all German-speaking countries in Europe to access emergency services. 

147. Wo ist das Krankenhaus?

Meaning: Where is the hospital?

148. Wo ist die Apotheke?

Meaning: Where is the pharmacy?

149. Mir ist schlecht

Meaning: I feel ill

150. Wie komme ich zur amerikanischen Botschaft?

Meaning: How do I get to the American embassy?

151. Lassen Sie mich in Ruhe!

Meaning: Leave me alone!

152. Es ist ein Notfall

Meaning: It’s an emergency

Why You Should Learn German Phrases

  • Even if you can’t have a fluent conversation, native German speakers always appreciate when foreigners put effort into learning a bit of their language. It shows respect to the people and German language, plus it demonstrates that you truly want to reach out and connect while abroad.
  • You won’t be totally reliant on your German phrasebook. Conversation will flow much more smoothly if you’re able to respond instead of having to flip through your book to find the appropriate phrase.
  • Contrary to popular belief, not all Germans speak English. Knowing basic German can really come in handy if you find yourself in a situation where you need to communicate with someone who only speaks German.

How to Learn Common German Phrases

The best way to learn common German expressions is to get out and interact with German speakers! If you can’t do that yet, here are some other ways to pick up useful phrases:

  • Consume German media. Television shows and music are often great ways to pick up a language’s idiosyncrasies and slang. 
  • Try an immersive language program. FluentU, for example, takes authentic German videos made for native speakers and uses tools such as interactive subtitles, flashcards and quizzes to boost learning efficiency. The program is available on iOS, Android, and the web.
  • Ask your German friends. Ask your native-speaking German friends to provide you with some phrases and idioms that they use on a daily basis, and work on learning those.
  • Integrate phrases into your conversations. Use these phrases as often as possible in your everyday speech and you’ll find yourself speaking more fluently in no time.
  • Try apps for learning German. Using language learning apps is another great way to learn some useful German phrases. Plus, it has the built in features for repetition, so you can really remember them properly. 


Now you’re all ready to go have conversations with these common German expressions!

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