How to Speak German: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Speak German: 12 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Speak German: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

German is a language spoken by millions of people, not only in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and many other countries in the world. Although mastering this language takes a lot of time and practice, you can learn the most important phrases in no time. If you plan to travel to a country where German is spoken, you want to impress someone or you just want to learn a new language, these phrases will help you a lot. With a little effort, you can greet people, introduce yourself, ask simple questions, and ask for help if you need it.


Part 1 of 3: Greetings and Farewells

Speak Simple German Step 01
Speak Simple German Step 01

Step 1. Use the most common greetings for each region

Each country that has German as its official language has its own variations on the greeting. However, people tend to understand certain general greetings no matter where they are from.

  • "Guten Tag" (gu-tehn tahg), "Good morning." It is a general way of saying "hello" during the day.
  • "Guten Morgen" (gu-tehn mor-gen), "Good morning." It is said during the early hours of the morning.
  • "Guten Abend" (Gu-tehn Ah-bend), "Good evening", in general
  • "Gute Nacht" (gu-teh nah-jt), "Good night", when one goes to sleep and only to relatives.
  • "Hallo" (jah-lou), "hello." It is the most common greeting and can be used anytime, anywhere.
Speak Simple German Step 02
Speak Simple German Step 02

Step 2. Learn to say your name and ask the other person's name

There are two ways to say "my name is …" in German:

  • "Ich heiße [name]". (“Ij jai-seh [name]”, literally “my name is…”)
  • "Mein Name ist [name]". ("Main nam-eh ist [name]", literally "my name is …")
  • For example, you can say "Ich heiße Andreas" or "Mein Name ist Andreas", to say your name.
Speak Simple German Step 03
Speak Simple German Step 03

Step 3. Understand that there is a distinction between formal and informal speech in German, similar to Spanish

One speaks differently to a stranger (formal) than to a known person (informal). To ask for a person's name, you must say:

  • "Wie heißen Sie?" (vii jai-sehn zii), "What is your name?" (formal)
  • "" Wie heißt du? " (vii jaist du), "What is your name?" (informal)
Speak Simple German Step 04
Speak Simple German Step 04

Step 4. To say goodbye, you must first take into account where you are and who you are talking to

However, these goodbyes work for almost any situation:

  • "Auf Wiedersehen" (auf vie-deir-zeyn), "Goodbye!"
  • "Tschüss!" (chuus), "Bye!"
  • "Ciao!" (bye Bye!". People who speak German often use this Italian word to say goodbye.

Part 2 of 3: Start a conversation

Speak Simple German Step 05
Speak Simple German Step 05

Step 1. Ask how a person is doing

Not only is it polite to do so, but you can impress others with your German!

  • Use the formal phrase "Wie geht es Ihnen?" (vii geet ess iinen) to ask how a stranger or acquaintance is doing.
  • Use the informal phrase "Wie geht es dir?" (vii geet ess diir) or "Wie geht’s?" (vii geetss) to ask how someone you know well or a child is doing.
  • In general, it is best to use formal speech with strangers, unless they are speaking informally to you. This is especially important if you are going to speak to people in authority, whether at work, school, or people in the government.
Speak Simple German Step 06
Speak Simple German Step 06

Step 2. Tell other people how you feel

If someone asks you how you are doing, you can answer them in a variety of ways.

  • You can say: "Gut", which means "good"; “Sehr gut”, which means “very good” or “Schlecht”, which means “bad”.
  • However, it is more polite to respond with a prayer. You can say “Mir geht is…” (“miir geet ess…”), followed by “gut”, “sehr gut” or “schlecht” to say “I am…” and the respective emotion.
Speak Simple German Step 07
Speak Simple German Step 07

Step 3. Ask someone where they are from

A great way to start a conversation is to ask a person where they came from. Try doing it with these questions:

  • "Woher kommen Sie?" (vo-jer co-men sii?) or "Woher kommst du?" (vo-jer comst du?), which means "Where are you from?" Or where're you from?".
  • "Ich komme aus [country]" (ij come aus) means "I am from [such country]." For example, saying “Ich komme aus den USA” means “I come from the United States”.
  • "Wo wohnen Sie?" (voh voh-nen sii?) or "Wo wohnst du?" (voh voh-nst du?), which means "Where do you live?" or "Where do you live?"
  • “Ich wohne in [place of residence]” (ij voh-neh in), which means “I live in [place of residence]”. For example, "Ich wohne in Chicago."

Part 3 of 3: Communicate More

Speak Simple German Step 08
Speak Simple German Step 08

Step 1. Learn some simple phrases to interact with other people in public

Like "ha" to say yes and "nein" to say no. These other phrases will also help you:

  • "Wie bitte?" (vii bitteh), "Excuse me?"
  • "It's Tut mir leid!" (ess tuut mir leid), "I'm so sorry!"
  • "Entschuldigung!" (ehnt-shuul-dig-ung), "Excuse me!"
Speak Simple German Step 09
Speak Simple German Step 09

Step 2. Learn to say "please" and "thank you."

Although saying thank you is often different in a formal and informal situation, you can say "Danke!" in any situation.

  • If you're curious, the formal version of saying thank you is “Ich danke Ihnen” (ij dank-eh iinen), while the informal version is “Ich danke dir” (ij dank-eh dir).
  • The word to say "please" is "Bitte!" (bit-teh). You can also use it to say "you're welcome."
Speak Simple German Step 10
Speak Simple German Step 10

Step 3. Learn to ask simple questions and requests

If you want to know if a store or restaurant has something that interests you, just ask "Haben Sie [object]?" (jah-ben sii), which means "Does it have [object]?" For example, "Haben Sie Kaffee?" (jah-ben sii caa-fee) means "Do you have coffee?"

If you want to know how much an item costs, then ask "Wie viel kostet das?" (vii fiil cost-et dahs)

Speak Simple German Step 11
Speak Simple German Step 11

Step 4. Learn to ask for help or directions

If you got lost somewhere, need to find something, or need help in general, these phrases will come in handy.

  • If you need help: "Können Sie mir helfen, bitte?" (cuun-en sii miir jelf-en bit-teh), means "Can you help me, please?"
  • If you want to ask for directions: "Wo ist [name of place]?" (voh ihst), means "Where is [place name] located?" For example, if you say "Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?" (voh ihst die Toal-et-eh, bit-teh), you will ask "Where is the bathroom?" or "Wo ist der Bahnhof?" (voh ihst der Bahn-jof), which means "Where is the train station located?"
  • If you want to be polite, ask the question as follows: "Entschuldigen Sie, bitte, wo ist der Bahnhof?" (ent-shuul-dig-ung sii bit-teh, voh ihst der bahn-jof), which means “Excuse me, please! Do you know where the train station is?
  • To ask if the person speaks another language, say: "Sprechen Sie Spanisch?" (or Englisch, Französisch, etc.) (shpreh-jen sii shpanish, english, fran-zoo-tzish, etc.), which means “Do you speak Spanish, English, French, etc.?”.
Speak Simple German Step 12
Speak Simple German Step 12

Step 5. Learn to count in German

At first, the numbers are very similar to those in English. However, the numbers 21 and up are very different. For example, the 21 is said "einunzwanzig" (ayn-uhnd-tsvahn-tsij), which literally means "one and twenty"; the 34th, "vierunddreißig" (fier-uhnd-dray-sij), which literally means "four thirty"; 67, "siebenundsechzig" (sii-ben-uhnd-zej-tsij), which literally means "seven and sixty", and so on.

  • 1 is "eins" (einz)
  • 2 is "zwei" (tsvai)
  • 3 is "drei" (dray)
  • 4 is “fri” (fier)
  • 5 is "fünf" (funf)
  • 6 is "sechs" (sejs)
  • 7 is "sieben" (sii-ben)
  • 8 is "acht" (ahjt)
  • 9 is "neun" (noyn)
  • 10 is “zehn (tsehn)
  • 11 is "elf" (elf)
  • 12 is "zwölf" (tsvuulf)
  • 13 is "dreizehn" (dray-tsehn)
  • 14 is "vierzehn" (fier-tsehn)
  • 15 is "fünfzehn" (funf-tsehn)
  • 16 is "sechzehn" (sej-tsehn)
  • 17 is "siebzehn" (siib-tsehn)
  • 18 is "achtzehn" (ahjt-tsehn)
  • 19 is "neunzehn" (noyn-tsehn)
  • 20 is "zwanzig" (tsvahn-tsick or tsvahn-tsij)
  • 21 is "einundzwanzig"
  • 22 is "zweiundzwanzig"
  • 30 is "dreißig"
  • 40 is "vierzig"
  • 50 is "fünfzig"
  • 60 is "sechzig"
  • 70 is "siebzig"
  • 80 is "achtzig"
  • 90 is "neunzig"
  • 100 is "hundert"


  • The pronunciation of German varies by region. People in Austria pronounce words very differently than in Germany. This guide contains the standard pronunciation.
  • Many sounds in German are similar to those of English and Spanish. However, you should pay close attention to certain consonants (the German “ch” sounds like a guttural “j”) and umlauts (ä, ö and ü). There is no equivalent sound in Spanish, so you should practice the pronunciation of these sounds until you master them.
  • As in any other language, you should practice a little bit at a time, but on a regular basis. Don't study a bunch of words at a time. This will help you retain the language more easily.
  • If it is difficult for you to pronounce words in German, do not be discouraged, because you are not the only one! Keep practicing and try to pronounce difficult words, such as “Streichholzschächtelchen” (shtraij-jolts-shej-tel-jen), which means “book of matches”.

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