german vocabulary

189 German Words That Learners Should Memorize ASAP [with Audio]

There are hundreds of thousands (potentially millions) of German words hanging around, just waiting to be learned and used.

But as a newcomer to German vocabulary, you’ll need to prioritize certain ones.

I’ll show you 189 of the most useful German words you should learn first.

I’ve chosen them based on frequency and usefulness. Learn these, and you’ll be much better off in your next German conversation.


Common German Nouns

German nouns are gendered and paired with the appropriate pronoun: der is the masculine pronoun, die is feminine, das is neuter and die is also used for plural nouns.

Let’s go over some of the critical ones you should know.

1. der Mann  — man

2. die Frau — woman

3. das Kind — child

4. der Junge — boy

5. das Mädchen — girl

6. der Freund — friend

7. die Leute — people (plural)

8. die Familie — family

9. die Arbeit — work

10. die Stadt — city

11. das Ding — thing

12. das Beispiel — example

13. die Frage — question

14. das Problem — problem

15. das Leben — life

16. das Geld — money

17. das Essen — food

18. das Haus — house

German Prepositions

German prepositions take different cases. Some can take on more than one, with a rule of thumb being that the dative is used for stasis or location and the accusative used for describing movement or a change of state.

Be aware that using the wrong case can imply a different meaning!

19. von — by, of, from (dative)

20. um — about, around, at (accusative)

21. zu — to, towards (dative)

22. bis — until, by, up to (accusative)

23. an  — to, on (accusative or dative)

24. auf — on, to, upon (accusative or dative)

25. aus — from, out of (dative)

26. bei — by, at, near, in (dative)

27. seit — since, for (dative)

28. für — for (accusative)

29. vor — before, in front of (dative)

30. nach — after, towards (dative)

31. in — in (accusative or dative)

32. durch  — through (accusative)

33. mit — with (dative)

34. neben — beside, near (dative)

German Pronouns

German pronouns can be a little tricky for learners because they change depending on the case and, at times, gender. We’ll go over the pronouns in their nominative, accusative and dative forms (in that order).

35. ich / mich / mir — I / me

36. du / dich / dir  — you (informal, singular)

37. er / ihn / ihm — he / him / it (for masculine nouns)

38. sie / sie / ihr — she / her / it (for feminine nouns)

39. es / es / ihm — it (for neuter nouns) 

40. wir / uns / uns — we / us

41. ihr  / euch / euch — you (informal, plural)

42. sie / sie / ihnen  — they / them

43. Sie / Sie / Ihnen  — you (formal, singular and plural)

Common German Phrases

Few conversations would feel complete without the bare essentials of phrases. These are the basic German phrases and expressions that you’re bound to use in any chat you have, no matter how long or short.

44. Hallo — Hello

45. Guten Morgen  — Good morning

46. Guten Abend  — Good afternoon

47. Gute Nacht — Good night

48. Ich heiße… — My name is…

49. Wie geht’s?  — How are you? (informal)

50. Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye / See you again

51. Tschüss — Bye

52. Gesundheit — Bless you

53. Ja — Yes

54. Nein — No

55. Vielleicht  — Maybe / Perhaps

56. Bitte — Please / You’re welcome

57. Entschuldigung — Excuse me

58. Danke  — Thanks

59. Es tut mir leid — I’m sorry

60. Genau — Exactly / That’s right

61. Ach so — I see

German Verbs

Off to do something? Hopefully you know how to say so in German. Here are some common German verbs that will get you going.

62. sein — to be

63. haben  — to have

64. machen  — to make, do

65. gehen — to go

66. nehmen — to take

67. bringen  — to bring

68. werden  — to become

69. wollen  — to want

70. wissen  — to know (information)

71. kennen  — to know (a person or place)

72. können — can, to be able to

73. mögen  — to like

74. denken  — to think

German Adjectives

Luckily, many adjectives in German sound quite similar to their English counterparts. Just don’t forget that in German, adjectives are also conjugated when paired with nouns.

75. gut  — good

76. schlecht — bad

77. klein — small

78. groß  — big, tall

79. schön  — handsome, beautiful, lovely, nice

80. fantastisch  — fantastic

81. traurig — sad

82. müde — tired

83. neu — new

84. alt — old

85. jung — young

86. kalt — cold

87. heiß — hot

88. kurz — short

89. lang — long

90. viel a lot / very

91. wenig — a little 

German Body Parts

Knowing how to describe the body parts in German is essential for beginner learners. Here are some of the crucial body parts you should know right away. 

92. der Körper — body

93. der Kopf — head

94. das Gesicht  — face

95. die Augen  — eyes

96. die Nase — nose

97. der Mund — mouth

98. der Hals — neck

99. die Schulter — shoulder

100. die Brust — chest / breast

101. der Rücken — back

102. der Bauch — stomach

103. der Arm — arm

104. die Hand  — hand

105. das Bein — leg

106. der Fuß — foot

German Numbers

Counting in German is pretty simple, but you’ll of course have to get familiar with the numbers first. No worries—they should be pretty quick to memorize!

107. null  zero

108. eins one

109. zwei  — two

110. drei — three

111. vier  — four

112. fünf  — five

113. sechs  — six

114. sieben  — seven

115. acht  — eight

116. neun  — nine

117. zehn  — ten

118. elf  — eleven

119. zwölf  — twelve

120. dreizehn  — thirteen

121. vierzehn  — fourteen

122. fünfzehn  — fifteen

123. sechzehn  — sixteen

124. siebzehn  — seventeen

125. achtzehn — eighteen

126. neunzehn  — nineteen

127. zwanzig — twenty

128. dreißig  — thirty

129. vierzig — forty

130. fünfzig — fifty

131. sechzig — sixty

132. siebzig — seventy

133. achtzig — eighty

134. neunzig  — ninety

135. hundert  — one hundred

136. tausend  — one thousand

German Time and Seasons

Words associated with time in German and the time of year are also one of the first things on the beginner learner’s agenda. So make sure to start learning these!

137. die Zeit  — time

138. früh  — early

139. spät  — late

140. die Uhr  — clock / o’clock (pronoun removed)

141. die Stunde  — hour

142. die Minute — minute

143. der Tag  — day

144. die Woche  — week

145. der Monat  — month

146. das Jahr — year

147. der Winter  — winter

148. der Frühling  — spring

149. der Herbst  — fall

150. der Sommer — summer

Common Multi-Purpose Words and Phrases

The words in this section are multi-purpose words that you’ll hear often, with definitions broad enough to apply in a variety of contexts—it’s handy to have these guys around.

151. Stimmt   agreed / right / true

It is often used to affirm a comment someone else has made. 

152. Stimmt das?  —  Is that right?

153. Das stimmt nicht That’s not right

154. Stimmt so! —  Keep the change (handy in restaurants/cafes if you’re feeling generous)

155. Genau exactly

It serves as something of a filler or sentence connector when you’ve paused between statements, similar to the way you use “so” in English. 

156. Genau hier Right here

157. Genau wie Exactly like

158. Also well/so

159. Also! Fangen wir an? Well, shall we get started? (Expression of enthusiasm)

160. Also…ich weiß es nicht Well…I don’t know. (Expression of uncertainty)

161. Äh the German version of “um”

162. Oder or / right / isn’t it?

Questions and Responses

163. Einen schönen Abend / Tag noch a lovely evening/day still

This phrase is used for polite leave-taking, usually between strangers or acquaintances. It is basically the equivalent of “have a nice day.” 

164. Schönes Wochenende have a nice weekend

165. Gleichfalls! likewise / same to you

You can say this in reply to a polite leave-taking phrase such as the above. It’s the appropriate catch-all response to all manner of well wishing.

166. Wie, bitte? pardon?

The polite way of asking someone to repeat themselves, if you haven’t heard or understood.

167. Was geht? what’s up? / what’s going on?

This is how you’d informally say “what’s up?” or “what’s going on?” to a friend.

168. Was ist los? What’s wrong?

169. Hast du was (etwas)? Is something wrong?

170. Warum? Why?

171. Echt? Really?

172. Geil! Cool!

173. Ach, so! Aha!

It’s also a good idea to brush up on your Umgangsprache (slang) here.

English Imports

It’s reassuring to know that you’re going to regularly come across many German words that you recognize. A growing number of German words are direct imports from English.

Take these verbs:

174. skypen Skype

175. downloaden to download

176. checken to check

177. chatten to chat

178. bloggen to blog 

These have all been effectively adapted from English to the German grammatical structure. As you can see, many come from relatively recent developments in digital technology. But you’ll also find:

179. surfen to surf (on the net as well as at the beach)

180. joggen to jog

181. pushen to push

182. flirten — to flirt

183. babysitten to babysit 

184. smalltalken to small talk 

And, increasingly:

185. sorry sorry (is it really surprising when Entschuldigung is such a mouthful?)

Finally, here’s a fairly exhaustive list of English loanwords in German.

Fun Expressions

You’ll need to have a giggle from time to time. Lucky for you, German has plenty of amusing yet functional words to offer. Here’s a few that might make you smile.

186. Quatsch rubbish

For example:

Das ist Quatsch (that’s rubbish) or quatschen  (to talk rubbish)

187. Blöd stupid

188. Lust passion or inclination

If someone asks you if you have Lust auf Schockolade, they’re not prompting you to expose your burning desire for the stuff, but rather whether you feel like eating it.

Similarly, ich habe keine Lust darauf simply means “I don’t feel like it.”

189. Jein yes and no

It’s used to express a divided opinion. 


189 words sounds like a lot, but remember, these are just the tip of the German language iceberg! Our complete guide on how to learn German vocabulary is here.

And as you’re learning more and more, avoid any vocabulary faux pas by using a program like FluentU, which lets you hear words spoken in context by native German speakers using authentic video content. 

You can watch the words being used in content like movie clips, music videos and commercials—aided by subtitles with on-demand definitions, multimedia flashcards, transcripts and personalized exercises.

Perhaps most importantly, the FluentU dictionary is contextual, so you’ll be seeing definitions specific to the situations where they appear.

Once you’re confident with the essentials, you can plow forward and indulge in all the other fun and quirky words unique to German!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe