German Cognates: Start with What You Already Know

Because German and English are both Germanic languages, quite a few words are either identical or similar in the two languages. Words that share a common source are called cognates. Another group of words common to German and English stem from Latin-based words that English speakers are familiar with. Many of these words have direct equivalents in German (for example, nouns that end in -tion).

The following words are spelled the same way and have the same meaning in German and in English. The only difference is the pronunciation, as shown in parentheses; in a few instances, the German and English pronunciation for the word is the same, so you see the English word in the pronunciation (followed by the notation “as in English”).

The other quirk you may notice is that in German, nouns are always capitalized. In addition, German nouns have one of three genders, as noted in this list by the words der (masculine), die (feminine), and das (neuter) in front of each noun.

  • der Arm (dêr ârm)

  • der Bandit (dêr bân-deet)

  • die Bank (dee bânk)

  • die Basis (dee bah-zis)

  • blind (blint)

  • die Butter (dee boot-er)

  • digital (di-gi-tâl)

  • elegant (êl-ê-gânt)

  • die Emotion (dee ê-moh-tsee-ohn)

  • emotional (ê-moh-tsee-oh-nahl)

  • der Export (dêr ex-port)

  • der Finger (dêr fing-er)

  • die Hand (dee hânt)

  • das Hotel (dâs hotel [as in English])

  • die Immigration (dee im-i-grâ-tsee-ohn)

  • der Import (dêr im-port)

  • die Inflation (dee in-flâ-tsee-ohn)

  • die Information (dee in-for-mâ-tsee-ohn)

  • die Inspiration (dee in-spi-râ-tsee-ohn)

  • das Instrument (dâs in-stroo-mênt)

  • international (in-ter-nâ-tsee-oh-nahl)

  • irrational (ir-râ-tsee-oh-nahl)

  • legal (ley-gahl)

  • liberal (lee-bêr-ahl)

  • der Mast (dêr mast)

  • die Mine (dee meen-e)

  • modern (moh-dêrn)

  • der Moment (dêr moh-mênt)

  • die Motivation (dee moh-ti-vâ-tsee-ohn)

  • das Museum (dâs mooh-zey-oohm)

  • der Name (dêr nah-me)

  • die Nation (dee nâ-tsee-ohn)

  • normal (nor-mahl)

  • die Olive (dee oh-lee-ve)

  • parallel (pâr-â-leyl)

  • der Pilot (dêr pee-loht)

  • der Professor (dêr professor [as in English])

  • das Radio (dâs rah-dee-oh)

  • die Religion (dee rey-li-gee-ohn)

  • das Restaurant (dâs rês-tuh-ron)

  • die Rose (dee roh-ze)

  • der Service (dêr ser-vis)

  • das Signal (dâs zig-nahl)

  • der Sport (dêr shport)

  • die Statue (dee shtah-tooh-e)

  • der Stress (dêr shtrês)

  • das System (dâs zers-teym)

  • das Taxi (dâs tâx-ee)

  • der Tiger (dêr tee-ger)

  • tolerant (to-lêr-ânt)

  • die Tradition (dee trâ-di-tsee-ohn)

  • der Tunnel (dêr toohn-el)

  • wild (vilt)

  • der Wind (dêr vint)

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