Wanna learn how to swear in German?
Here’s a secret: Most people do.
Okay, okay. Phrases with swears in them are not sound options when learning or traveling around Germany, but you may need them in your back pocket to vent your frustrations when someone cuts you off in traffic.
However, the vast majority of German phrasebooks cover the good, the bad and ugly, whether you’re trying to ask for a cup of tea or chew out an employee for not completing a report on time.
And that’s the glory of learning a few simple German phrases.
You can end up sounding like you’re fluent in German in a short amount of time.
German phrasebooks are most commonly used by travelers on planes over to Germany, but they also work wonders for learners once you get past that stage of flipping through flashcards to memorize every vocabulary word in the book.
So, what is it that you want to say in German?
How about Ich bin sofort wieder da! (I will be right back!)
Or maybe a line such as Ich möchte eines Tages (mal) nach Deutschland reisen. (I’d like to visit Germany one day.)
Wouldn’t we all!
Regardless of your motivations for quickly learning some of the more common German phrases, do it the right way. The best German phrasebooks come from reputable sources like Rick Steves and Lonely Planet, both of which are known for creating awesome travel guides.
With this experience, the most reputable authors cover more material than you can ever imagine. So, without further ado, keep reading to learn about which German phrasebooks you should tuck into your backpack.
Why You Need a German Phrasebook Right Now
Is it really necessary to purchase a phrasebook?
What’s the big idea?
Heck, much of the information is plastered all over the Internet, and that’s free!
Sure, you can settle for a hodgepodge of lists online, but are your sources credible? Are you going to end up making a fool of yourself because you have to scramble through a stapled pile of papers you printed out from your computer?
Even while learning, you can’t expect the Internet to have such a concentrated compilation of material like you find in a high-quality phrasebook.
That’s why every serious traveler or learner has a phrasebook as their bible.
Need more convincing?
- Phrasebooks force you to speak instead of read, improving your pronunciation.
- They are generally used when you need to interact, like during a date or while ordering something at the market.
- They put together multiple words instead of just having you speak one or two vocabulary words.
- The sentences are common, so you can expect to get lots of practice with others who are willing to speak with you.
Of course, it’s one thing to learn German phrases in isolation, and another thing to get a full understanding of all the different contexts where they might be used. That’s why a resource like FluentU is so valuable.
With meticulous, interactive captions, you’ll see every word that’s spoken in a video—and you can just hover over anything unfamiliar to get instant definitions, pronunciations and extra usage examples.
A huge library of videos on all sorts of topics mean that you can always find something interesting to watch. And, since videos are organized by learning level, you can get challenge without frustration.
Fun, adaptive exercises let you practice what you’re learning, ensuring that you truly understand all your new vocabulary and grammar.
FluentU tracks your progress and will let you know when it’s time to review, using multimedia flashcards that keep learning dynamic—and help ensure that you never forget what you’ve learned.
Check it out with the free trial today!
9 German Phrasebooks for Slang, Swears and Salutations
1. Lonely Planet German Phrasebook & Dictionary
Have you ever been in Germany, or a place where people speak German, only to fumble over ordering what you want in German?
No longer must you worry about this situation, because the Lonely Planet German Phrasebook has something super unique: A menu decoder for ordering the right meals.
Along with that decoder (and a two-way dictionary), this phrasebook covers topics such as:
- Much More
The reason this is one of the best phrasebooks is because it has a strong focus on how to understand the combination of small words into larger words in German. For example, Fussballweltmeisterschaftsqualifikationsspiel (the Football World Cup qualifying match) is explained and broken down so that you can immediately recognize it using the smaller combination words.
2. “Rick Steves’ German Phrase Book & Dictionary“
Have you ever watched Rick Steves on PBS?
If not, you’re missing out, because this guy is the king of European travel guides.
His most popular books lead travelers through spots like Berlin and Munich, but the phrasebook pairs well with those, with unique and up-to-date elements, like rail transportation information, currency details and the phonetic spellings for each phrase.
3. “The Penguin German Phrasebook: Fourth Edition“
This one is all about simplicity.
In fact, it’s so, so, so perfect for travelers.
Everything is there for you to interact with other people, from pronunciation guides to basic grammar. The layout starts with grammar lists that you would generally use for ordering food, hailing a cab and introducing yourself. It then goes on to walk you through the pronunciations so that you don’t end up sounding silly while talking to people.
But the coolest feature is that it’s small and compact enough to fit right in your pocket.
4. “1001 Easy German Phrases“
Over 1000 German phrases?
A phrasebook like this is one that we like to recommend for those staying in Germany for a bit, since it covers some rather interesting areas like medicine and emergency situations.
You’ll also notice that idioms and slang phrases are covered, helping you fit in with the cool kids.
The book is designed so that you can find phrases within seconds. So, if you’re trying to ask for directions or find a bank, the table of contents moves you directly to the areas that are most useful for these situations.
5. Lonely Planet Fast Talk German (Phrasebook)
Phrasebook App: Fast Talk by Lonely Planet
Besides the fact that the Lonely Planet book has an app to go along with it, you’ll find it useful for building confidence when trying to speak with people who have little knowledge in the English language.
In short, the Lonely Planet phrasebook places a focus on helping you explore (whether you’re in Germany or sitting in your bedroom.) Learn how to find a local bar in Berlin, or ask around to find affordable tickets to the opera. It’s specifics like these that put Lonely Planet in a league of its own.
6. “German (Eyewitness Travel Guide Phrase Books)“
Would you like a 2,000-word mini dictionary with your phrasebook? That’s the kind of value you receive with the “Eyewitness German Phrasebook.”
New words pop up every few years, so this guide is updated to ensure you know how to speak properly. For example, 20 years ago, you never would have heard the word “e-ticket,” but now it’s covered in the phrasebook, along with phrases relevant to hotels, travel, post offices, banks and sports.
The entire guide is organized by subject, so you can immediately find the vocab words that are needed in any particular situation. For example, if you’re looking for the location of a soccer stadium, you may look under the sporting section. This provides a wonderful list of vocabulary words and phrases, and each of them are paired with pronunciations to help you out along the way.
7. “Dirty German: Everyday Slang from ‘What’s Up?’ to ‘F*%# Off!’“
Can you imagine telling someone to “f*%# off!” in German?
For some reason the very thought of it terrifies me.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with German swear words from the comfort of your own home!
Keep in mind that the “Dirty German” book is far more than curse words. It’s actually one of the most important phrasebooks you’ll find, since it covers slang and everyday chatter you may find in a bar, restaurant or sporting event.
After all, you and your friends don’t speak in perfect English, so if you’re looking to have fun with them, it’s wise to understand the lingo.
8. “Berlin: German Travel Phrases for English Speaker: The Most Useful 1,000 Phrases to Get Around When Traveling in Berlin“
Phrasebook App: Learn German – Phrasebook for Travel in Germany
A phrasebook just for Germany’s capital?
Not only does this book outline over 1,000 phrases, but most of them intertwine with the happenings of Berlin itself. For example, you may want to check out one of the many theaters in Berlin. Well, a standard phrasebook isn’t going to help you with the specific theaters.
This one will.
In addition, “Berlin” is one of the few phrasebooks that is specifically made for the digital format, meaning you can search within seconds to locate what you want.
9. “Berlitz German Phrase Book & Dictionary“
Phrasebook App: German – English Berlitz Standard Talking Dictionary
As one of the most popular phrasebooks on the market, it helps that the “Berlitz Phrasebook” fits in your pocket.
What makes this option unique is the fact that the entire book has images that correlate with the phrases, generating a sense of visual recognition for remembering the phrases easier. We can’t express how useful it is to have pictures and color coding along with your phrases, since these engage more than just one sense.
Go! Go! Go! You’ve got the tools, now get to studying. Better yet, hop on a plane and test out these new phrases on the German locals. Regardless of your German speaking aspirations, we urge you to select at least one German phrasebook to have on you at all times. Good luck!
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