Top Ten German Phrases

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Whether you are traveling to Germany, Austria, Switzerland or interacting with people, here is a list of extremely useful basic German phrases.  Whenever I travel or my coworkers/friends travel I prepare this very same list for them.  I have found that these are the top phrases that can handle 90% of any native conversation you would need to have.  Even with a travel phrase book, this list printed out can be a quick life saver.

My mother one-upped me when she went to Germany.  She seemed to get by on two words: “schön” (shurn) meaning “nice” and “danke” (Dahn-kah) for thank you.  These and smiling a heck of lot seemed to do it for her.  Please try a little harder than she did.

1)         Hi / Bye
            Hallo (Ah-lo) / Auf Wiedersehen (Owf Vee-dur-zay-en)

 2)         Yes / No
              Ja (Yah) / Nein (Nine [9])

 3)         Please / Thank you
             Bitte (Bit-tah) / Danke (Dahn-kah)

 4)         Excuse me
             Entschuldigen Sie (ent-Shool-dig-gun Zee)

 5)         Where is . . .?  (…the bathroom)
             Wo ist …? (Voh Ist)  (… das Badezimmer) (Dass Bah-duh-zim-er)
             The train station        Der Bahnhof              (Dair bahn-Hohf)
             The bus station          Der Busbahnhof        (Dair Boos-bahn-Hohf)
             The police station      Die Polizeistation       (Dee Poh-lit-Zie-shtat-Zee-ohn)
             The embassy              Die Botschaft             (Dee Boht-Shahft)
             The hospital               Das Krankenhaus     (Dahs Krahn-ken-How-ss)

 6)         Take me to … please.
             Nehmen Sie mich … bitte.  (Nay-men Zee Mihck … bit-Tah)
TIP:  For this one, I have found it most helpful to have a business card card (especially from your hotel), or a written name of the location you wish to go to and point to it as you say “hier” (heer) in between “mich” and “bitte”.  It gives the driver/person a chance to study the location without asking you to repeat anything or to get into a lengthy conversation.

7)         Do you speak English? / I don’t speak German.
             Sprechen Sie Englisch?  (shpreck-Ken Zee Eng-lish) / Ich spreche kein Deutsch.  (Eeck shpreck-Kuh Kine Doytch)

8)         How much is this?
             Wie viel ist das?  (Vee Feel Ist Dass)
TIP:  A nice shortcut for this is to just say “Wie viel?”  Most Germans will understand what you mean and, in fact, use this abbreviated phrase themselves.

9)         My name is… / What is your name?
             Ich heisse … (Eeck hi-Suh) / Wie heissen Sie?  (Vee hi-Sen Zee)
TIP:  How the person answers this one will tell you a LOT in Germany.  If they answer, “Frau …” (Frow) meaning Misses, “Fräulein…” (fraw-Line) meaning Miss, or “Herr …” (Hair) meaning Mister, they want to keep their relationship with you on a formal basis only.  If they answer with just their name, then they are more relaxed and you can be too.

10)       I need a doctor!
             Ich brauche einen Arzt!  (Eeck brow-Kuh eye-Nen Ahrrst)

 Now that you have the basics . . . get out there and meet some people!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Hi / Bye                                    Hallo / Auf Wiedersehen
  • Yes / No                                   Ja / Nein
  • Please / Thank you              Bitte / Danke
  • Excuse me                              Entschuldigen Sie
  • Where is…?                            Wo ist…?
  • Take me to…please.           Nehmen Sie mich…bitte.
  • Do you speak English?       Sprechen Sie Englisch?
  • I don’t speak German.        Ich spreche kein Deutsch.
  • How much is this?               Wie viel ist das?
  • My name is…                         Ich heisse …
  • What is your name?            Wie heissen Sie?
  • How much does it cost?    Wie viel kostet es?

Author:                 Robert J. Gorman, Jr.
Date:                      9/12/2013

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Categories: Meetin’ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Top Ten German Phrases

  1. Why users still make use of to read news papers when in this technological
    globe the whole thing is accessible on net?

    • I totally agree. News is more relevant and distributed better online. The old newspaper companies need to drive innovation on the web.

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