You’re at a party, looking for people to chat with.
Suddenly you hear your friend’s voice from across the room.
“German? Hey, I know someone who’s learning German!” he says.
You look over and see him gesturing toward you.
Did your blood go cold at the thought of hearing this?
Have you been trying to learn German for a while now but still don’t feel comfortable trying to speak it?
It sounds like you need a little grab-bag of German phrases!
The phrases I’ve put together aren’t just for impressing people at parties, either. These are the absolute basic German phrases that every beginning learner needs to know, whether you’re sitting at home or are already living it up in Germany!
The Art of Conversation: 60+ Useful German Phrases for Beginners
Even after reading through this list of German phrases, you might still feel like you need more confidence before you can use them.
That’s fine! One of the best ways to learn German is to ease yourself into the language with interesting and easy-to-follow authentic content, like the videos on FluentU.
By watching videos with FluentU’s interactive German subtitles, you’ll actually end up hearing and seeing the same beginner phrases over and over again—until you naturally remember them, without effort.
Plus, you can continue learning by clicking on any words or phrases in the subtitles to see them used in example sentences and additional authentic videos.
Take things even further by adding beginner German phrases to FluentU’s flashcard sets or vocabulary lists or by practicing them with quizzes.
Sign up for a free FluentU trial today to continue practicing phrases while watching fun German videos!
And now, it’s time to learn some beginner phrases that will take your German to the next level.
German Greetings and Goodbyes
The first thing that comes out of your mouth in German is probably going to be some sort of hello. But if you really want to sound natural at first, you should figure out exactly which kind of “hello” that should be.
For starters, you can use the all-purpose Hallo! (Hello!). This is pretty informal and casual, but you still hear it often. Germany is getting more and more casual over time!
Try these time-of-day greetings too:
Just as in English, you don’t need to say Gute Nacht (goodnight) unless you’re sending someone to bed.
Check out these others, though—they count as greetings even though they might not directly translate as such.
Was ist los?
These questions also have answers!
Alles läuft gut.
Es geht mir gut!
I’m doing well!
In southern Germany or in Austria, you’re likely to hear two other phrases:
And in the north, especially around Hamburg, you may also hear:
Even if you can only manage a simple “Hello” in German, it’ll still go a long way.
Even better would be adding “Goodbye” to your language repertoire.
See ya later!
Introducing Yourself in German
The next step is to begin talking about yourself. Obviously, if you’re a good talker, this could go on for quite some time!
First, how do you say your name?
Wie heißt du?
What’s your name?
There are three commonly-used responses to this question.
Mein Name ist…
My name is…
My name is…
Of course, here it’s polite to shake hands and say:
Es freut mich, Ihnen kennenzulernen.
I’m very glad to meet you.
Nice to meet you!
In German, when you talk about what job you do, you don’t need an article (ein/eine). However, many jobs have male versions (with no ending) and female versions (with an -in ending).
Here are some examples:
Ich bin Student.
I’m a student.
Ich bin Schriftstellerin.
I’m a (female) writer.
Perhaps you’ve been in Germany for a while? You might also hear the following:
Seit wann bist du schon hier?
How long have you been here?
Ich bin schon ein Monat hier.
I’ve already been here for a month.
Heute ist mein erster Tag in Stuttgart.
Today is my first day in Stuttgart.
And now, where do you come from originally?
Woher kommst du?
Where are you from?
Ich komme aus…
Ich bin Amerikaner, aber wohne jetzt in Berlin.
I’m an American (man), but I live in Berlin now.
Say this last one with a smile and see what kind of response you get:
Kannst du raten?
Can you guess?
Common Phrases About Learning German
Are you surprised to see this topic on the list? Don’t be—it’s something that learners hear a lot!
Many Germans are surprised when they hear that others, particularly native English speakers, are learning their language. If you have some snappy responses ready, you’ll come off as quite impressive!
Warum lernst du Deutsch?
Why are you learning German?
Weil Deutschland so schön ist.
Because Germany is so beautiful.
This sentence, while true, is relatively complicated for a beginner. You’ll note that ist (is) is at the end of the sentence. In German, you always have to change the word order this way when you use weil (because).
Here are some more example answers:
Weil ich deutsche Musik mag.
Because I like German music.
Weil mein Mann / meine Frau aus Deutschland kommt.
Because my husband / my wife comes from Germany.
Weil ich mich für Sprachen interessiere.
Because I’m interested in languages.
Weil ich gerne reise.
Because I like traveling.
These are all excellent phrases. If you’d like, you can up the ante by saying how long you’ve been learning.
Ich lerne Deutsch seit drei Monaten.
I’ve been learning German for three months.
Ich bin als Austauschstudent hier.
I’m here as an exchange student.
If you’re nailing your pronunciation and grammar, you might also have a quick exchange about your language ability.
In dem Fall sprichst du sehr gut!
In that case, you speak very well!
Danke! Aber ich mache immer noch Fehler.
Thanks! But I still make mistakes.
Phrases for Ordering Food in German
All right, now it’s time for a snack. Germany is full of excellent bakeries and cafes, but the problem is that most of the bread and pastries have long names that you probably don’t know as a beginner.
That’s fine! Here’s what you can say instead. It’s not perfect, but it’ll get the job done without any English.
Ich möchte das hier.
I’d like this one here.
No, that one!
Do you know the name of the thing you want? Excellent! You can ask if they have it, for starters.
Haben Sie Brezeln mit Käse?
Do you have pretzels with cheese?
Gibt es Pommes?
Are there fries?
Germans actually have a specific sentence pattern for ordering things at a bakery or similar shop. It literally translates to “once” or “twice.”
Einen Kaffee, bitte.
One coffee, please (literally once coffee, please).
Drei Kekse, bitte.
Three cookies, please.
When you want to be specific about things to avoid with your order, you can use the word kein (no, none) or ohne (without).
Ein Schokoladeeis, aber keine Sahne.
One chocolate ice cream, but no whipped cream.
Einen Tee ohne Zucker.
One tea without sugar.
All finished with the transaction? Better say thank you! In German, the word for “thank you” is actually the same as “here you are.”
Here you are.
Thanks a lot!
German Phrases to Use When Shopping
When you go shopping for souvenirs or out to eat in Germany, you may find that English doesn’t get you that far, especially in small towns.
You can use these phrases to help you be more specific about what you’d like, and you can also use these adjectives later on in your German-speaking adventures.
Ich möchte den Großen.
I want the big one.
Der Kleine sieht nicht gut aus.
The small one doesn’t look good.
Das ist zu teuer.
That’s too expensive.
Haben Sie etwas Größeres?
Do you have anything bigger?
Haben Sie nichts Billigeres?
Don’t you have anything cheaper?
Das ist perfekt!
This is perfect!
Das hier sieht sehr gut aus!
This one looks very good!
Das ist ein bisschen zu eng.
It’s a little too tight.
Was für ein schönes Hemd!
What a beautiful shirt!
What Did You Say? Asking for Clarification in German
Although nobody likes to admit it, there are times when communication starts to break down and you need to be able to ask for clarification.
Try out these phrases when you’re having a little trouble understanding, and the person you’re speaking with will respect your effort to keep talking in German.
Kannst du das nochmal sagen?
Could you say that again?
Noch einmal, bitte?
Say it again, please?
Was hast du gerade gesagt?
What did you just say?
Wie spricht man das aus?
How do you pronounce this?
Wie sagt man… auf Deutsch?
How do you say… in German?
Kannst du bitte langsamer sprechen?
Could you please speak slower?
Tut mir leid, ich verstehe das Wort… nicht.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand the word…
Entschuldigung, ich lerne noch.
Sorry, I’m still learning.
But no matter the difficulty you’re having, just remember these words of encouragement:
Weiter so! Alles kommt mit der Zeit.
Keep it up! It all comes with time.
Hopefully, after reading this list, you won’t feel so intimidated the next time someone wants you to speak in German. With these phrases up your sleeve, you’re all set to try out your language skills!
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