Helpful German Phrases: Getting Started

CONTRIBUTED BY MEGAN OGEAL

You’ve packed your bags, said your goodbyes at home, and used the flight over for some sleep or some contemplation on how life will be in your new home. You might have questions begging to be asked…maybe even answered. Will Germany ever feel like home? Will it be different? Will anything be the same? Will I hate it? I definitely hope not; I hope you love it!

So, your plane has just landed, grabbed your luggage and you’ve made it through customs. You’re officially in Germany! Whoo-hoo!!

As you start soaking in your new surroundings. You notice things look and sound different. You can’t understand a word and you still have to find your ride. Many may be excited, while others are wondering just what they’ve got themselves into. Hopefully you’re excited, maybe a bit apprehensive, somewhat rested, and I hope (for your sake…and your families. …possibly for those around you too) that you’re not too stressed out. I know I was excited and apprehensive…then got really nervous because we couldn’t find the USO to find our ride to Spangdahlem. Everyone was going to Ramstein, and well…we weren’t.

I find, people in Germany are usually very helpful. A lot even speak at least some English, especially at the airport or near a military base. It’s polite to know a few words though. AND it may even help ease the transition. It WILL at least show people that you’re trying. Germans are even more willing to help when you show them you’re trying to learn their language. Here are a few words and phrases I found helpful the first time I arrived in Germany.

English
German
pronunciation

Hello/Hi
Hallo / Tag
hah-loh / tahk

Good morning
Guten Morgen
goot-en mor-gen

Good day
Guten Tag
goot-en tahk

Good evening
Guten Abend
goot-en ah-bent

Good night
Gute Nacht
goot-eh nakht

Good bye
Auf Wiedersehen
owf vee-dair-zayn

Bye
Tschau / Tschüs
chow / tchews

Do you speak English? Hands down, the most useful phrase in any language, I think.
Sprichst du Englisch?
shprikhst doo eng-lish

I (don’t) speak German.
Ich spreche (kein) Deutsch.
ikh shpreck-uh (kine) doytch

I (don’t) understand.
Ich verstehe (nicht).
ikh fehr-shtay-eh (nikht).

Slowly please.
Langsam, bitte.
long-zahm, bih-tuh

Yes
Ja
yah

No
Nein
nine

Please
Bitte
bih-tuh

Thank you
Danke (schön / sehr)
dahn-kuh (shurn / zair)

You’re welcome
Bitte schön
bih-tuh shurn

Excuse me
Entschuldigung
ehnt-shool-dih-gung

I’m sorry
Es tut mir Leid
ehs toot meer lite

My name is…
Ich heise …
ikh hie-ssuh

What is it?
Was ist das?
vahs ist dass

Where is the bathroom? / Where is the toilette? For when you gotta go…
Wo ist das WC? / Wo ist die Toilette?
Voh ist dass vay tsay/ Voh ist dee toy-let-tah

Where is/are…?
Wo ist / sind…?
voh ist / voh zint

How much?
Wieviel?
Vee feel

I’d like…
Ich möchte / Ich hätte gern…
ikh merkh-tuh / ikh heh-tuh gairn

One beer, please! Because… Well, because you’re in Germany and beer is important. Just ask them!
Ein Bier, bitte!
ine beer, bit-tuh

Big
gross
gross (like the English gross)

Small
klein
kline

Exit (Autobahn) Not the largest city in Germany!
Ausfahrt
ousfart

Traffic jam
Stau
shtou

0 – null nool

1 – eins ines

2 – zwei tsvy

3 – drei dry

4 – vier feer

5 – funf fewnf

6 – sechs zecks

7 – sieben zee-bun

8 – acht ahkht

9 – neun noyn

10 – zehn tsayn

We asked information for directions. They were able to direct us to the USO where we found our ride. We ended up making it to Spangdahlem alright. By the time we got there it was nice to be out of a vehicle…any kind of vehicle. It was time for a nap! …and food. Maybe a beer or two. 😀

There are a lot more useful words and phrases. It’s really difficult to narrow it down to just a few. Be on the look out for more!

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