How to Make Introductions in German
5 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of German Words and Phrases for Traveling
Learning the proper way to make introductions in German can help you get off to the right start. The German language tends to be a bit more formal than American English. Consequently, introductions in German follow more of a pattern than they sometimes do in the United States. Don't worry, it’s not complicated — just good manners.
First impressions are important — they can start a friendship and set the tone for your entire meeting.
Start with a greeting.
The simplest greeting is Hallo or Guten Tag, which means Hello or Good Day. If you're in Southern Germany, they say Grüß Gott instead.
The two most common ways to introduce yourself are to say Ich heiße Name (My name is Name) or Ich bin Name (I'm Name).
Because the Germans are more socially formal, they follow a strict sense of etiquette at work. In business settings, introductions are only made by those in authority. So, if someone starts working at an office, her boss would be the one to introduce her to the other people in the office.
Since you are meeting the person for the first time, you should use the more formal form of you to ask their name.
Sie, which is formal “you,” is polite and can be used when speaking with a new acquaintance, elder, or person in a high office. With friends, family, and children, use informal du (you). Ihr is the plural of du.
Wie heißt du? (What’s your name? [Informal])
Wie heißen Sie? (What’s your name? [Formal])
After they tell you their name you should express pleasure.
Common ways to express this are:
Sehr angenehm. (Nice to meet you!)
Es freut mich Sie kennen zu lernen. (It's a pleasure to meet you.) (Singular/Formal)
Introducing other people
The second most common type of introduction is to introduce someone else, such as your spouse, child, or friend. The following phrases are typical of introducing someone else.
Kann ich meine Frau, Fabienne einführen? (May I introduce my wife, Fabienne?).
Das ist mein Freund, James. (This is my friend, James.)
Where are you from?
Don't need to stop at basic introductions; you could also take this opportunity to talk about where each of you is from. To tell them where you're from, say Ich komme aus den USA. (I’m from the United States.)
To ask where the person is from, you can say:
Woher kommst du? (Where are you from? [Informal])
Woher kommen Sie? (Where are you from? [Formal])
Aus welcher Stadt kommst du? (What city are you from?)
If you want to talk about where you live on the other hand, you can use the verb wohnen, which mean to live:
Wo wohnst du? (Where do you live?)
Ich wohne in Bremen. (I live in Bremen.)