German Workbook For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Whether you’re planning a trip to Germany or another German-speaking country, you’ve heard an unfamiliar German phrase and want to know what it means, or you just want to get into the spirit for your town’s annual Oktoberfest, knowing some basic German can give you the confidence you need.

The first part of this Cheat Sheet includes basic German expressions, questions that let you gather information or ask for help, phrases to use when ordering from a menu, and German numbers and dates. The second part of this Cheat Sheet includes some basics of German grammar that can help you build your own sentences.

Useful German expressions and greetings

Practice these German greetings and expressions, which you’ll use daily when you visit a German-speaking country. With these expressions, you can communicate politely, feel more confident, and travel more comfortably.

English German Pronunciation
Hello! Hallo! -loh! (informal greeting)
Good day! Guten Tag! gooh-ten tahk!
Good evening! Guten Abend! gooh-ten ah-bent!
Good-bye! Auf Wiedersehen! ouf vee-der-zey-en!
Please./You’re welcome. Bitte. bi-te.
Thank you. Danke. dân-ke.
Excuse me. Entschuldigung. ênt-shool-dee-goong.
My name is…. Ich heiße…. iH hays-e….
Pleased to meet you. Freut mich. froyt miH.

Basic questions in German

If you travel to a German-speaking country and need to know the time or where something is located, or you just want to get some basic information, a few common questions can come in very handy.

English German Pronunciation
Do you speak English? Sprechen Sie Englisch? shprêH-en zee êng-lish?
How are you? Wie geht es Ihnen? vee geyt ês een-en?
Would you help me please? Würden Sie mir bitte helfen? vuer-den zee meer bi-te
What’s your name? Wie heißen Sie? vee hays-en zee?
What time is it? Wie viel Uhr ist es? vee feel oohr ist ês?
What’s the weather like? Wie ist das Wetter? ee ist dâs vêt-er?
How much does . . . cost? Wie viel kostet . . .? vee feel kos-tet…?
Where do I find . . .? Wo finde ich . . .? voh fin-de iH…?
Where are the bathrooms? Wo sind die Toiletten? voh zint dee toy-lêt-en?
Do you have…? Haben Sie…? hah-ben zee…?
Where is…? Wo ist…? voh ist…?
Could you please talk more slowly? Können Sie bitte langsamer sprechen? kern-en zee bi-te lâng-zâm-er
Could you repeat that, please? Können Sie das bitte wiederholen? kern-en zee dâs bi-te

German phrases for emergencies

If you’re traveling in a German-speaking country and find yourself in an urgent situation, you can get the assistance you need by memorizing these important German phrases.

English German Pronunciation
Help! Hilfe! hilf-e!
Police! Polizei! po-li-tsay!
Fire! Feuer! foy-er!
Get a doctor! Holen Sie einen Arzt! hohl-en zee ayn-en ârtst!
I am sick. Ich bin krank. iH bin krânk.
I don’t know my way around here. Ich kenne mich hier nicht aus. iH kên-e miH heer niHt ous.

The German calendar

Getting to know the days and months of the German calendar helps you keep track of your travel plans, German holidays, and engagements.

Days of the Week in German

English German Pronunciaton
Monday Montag mohn-tahk
Tuesday Dienstag deens-tahk
Wednesday Mittwoch mit-voH
Thursday Donnerstag don-ers-tahk
Friday Freitag fray-tahk
Saturday Samstag / Sonnabend zâms-tahk / zon-ah-bent)
Sunday Sonntag zon-tahk

Months of the Year in German

English German Pronunciation
January Januar -noo-ahr
February Februar fey-broo-ahr
March März mêrts
April April ah-pril
May Mai may
June Juni yooh-nee
July Juli yooh-lee
August August ou-goost
September September zêp-têm-ber
October Oktober ok-toh-ber
November November no-vêm-ber
December Dezember dey-tsêm-ber

Ordering in a German restaurant

If you go to a German restaurant, these expressions can come in very handy. Practice them first, so that you can relax and enjoy the dining experience.

English German Pronunciation
The menu, please. Die Speisekarte bitte. dee shpay-ze kâr-te bi-te.
I’d like…. Ich hätte gern…. iH -te gern….
I’d like…. Ich möchte gern…. iH merH-te gern….
Could you recommend something? Könnten Sie etwas empfehlen? kern-ten zee êt-vas
Another (beer) please. Noch (ein Bier) bitte. noH [ayn beer] bi-te.
Excuse me. Entschuldigen Sie bitte. ênt-shool-dee-gen zee bi-te.
The check, please. Die Rechnung bitte. dee rêH-noong bi-te.
A receipt, please. Eine Quittung bitte. ayn-e kvi-toong bi-te.
Enjoy your meal. Guten Appetit. gooh-ten âp-e-teet .

German numbers

When traveling in a German-speaking area, you need to know numbers for shopping, dining, transportation, and exchanging money. With this list, you can start practicing German numbers.

0 null (nool) 17 siebzehn (zeep-tseyn)
1 eins (ayns) 18 achtzehn (âHt-tseyn)
2 zwei (tsvay) 19 neunzehn (noyn-tseyn)
3 drei (dray) 20 zwanzig (tsvân-tsîH)
4 vier (feer) 21 einundzwanzig (ayn-oont-tsvân-tsiH)
5 fünf (fuenf) 22 zweiundzwanzig (tsvay-oont
6 sechs (zêks) 30 dreißig (dray-siH)
7 sieben (zee-ben) 40 vierzig (feer-tsiH)
8 acht (âHt) 50 fünfzig (fuenf-tsiH)
9 neun (noyn) 60 sechzig (zêH-tsiH)
10 zehn (tseyn) 70 siebzig (zeep-tsiH)
11 elf (êlf) 80 achtzig (âHt-tsiH)
12 zwölf (tsverlf) 90 neunzig (noyn-tsiH)
13 dreizehn (dray-tseyn) 100 hundert (hoon-dert)
14 vierzehn (feer-tseyn) 200 zweihundert (tsvay-hoon-dert)
15 fünfzehn (fuenf-tseyn) 1000 tausend (tou-zent)
16 sechzehn (zêH-tseyn)

Understanding the basics of German cases

In grammar, cases indicate the role that nouns and pronouns play in a sentence. Case is important in German because four types of words — nouns, pronouns, articles, and adjectives — go through spelling changes according to the case they represent in a sentence.

German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. The following table breaks them down based on function.

Case Case Function
Nominative Used for the subject of a sentence

Used for predicate nouns

Accusative Used for the direct object of a sentence
Dative Used for the indirect object of a sentence
Genitive Used to show possession, ownership, or a close relationship

German personal pronouns and their cases

The biggest difference between German personal pronouns and English personal pronouns is that you have to distinguish among three ways to say you: du, ihr, and Sie. Other personal pronouns, like ich and mich (I and me) or wir and uns (we and us), bear a closer resemblance to English.

The genitive case isn’t represented among the personal pronouns because it indicates possession; the personal pronouns represent only people, not something those people possess.

Check out the following table for a list of the personal pronouns. Notice that you and it don’t change in English and the accusative (for direct objects) and dative (for indirect objects) pronouns are identical.

The table lists the distinguishing factors for the three forms of you — du, ihr, and Sie — in abbreviated form. Here’s what the abbreviations mean: s. = singular, pl. = plural, inf. = informal, form. = formal.

Subject Pronoun


Direct Object Pronoun


Indirect Object Pronoun  (Dative)
ich (I) mich (me) mir (me)
du (you) (s., inf.) dich (you) (s., inf.) dir (you) (s., inf.)
er (he) ihn (him) ihm (him)
sie (she) sie (her) ihr (her)
es (it) es (it) ihm (it)
wir (we) uns (us) uns (us)
ihr (you) (pl., inf.) euch (you) (pl., inf.) euch (you) (pl., inf.)
sie (they) sie (them) ihnen (them)
Sie (you) (s. or pl., form.) Sie (you) (s. or pl., form.) Ihnen (you) (s. or pl., form.)

Reflexive pronouns

The reflexive pronouns include myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. The table below also includes personal pronouns (nominative case) for reference.

Nominative of Personal Pronouns Accusative (Reflexive) Dative (Reflexive)
ich (I) mich (myself) mir (myself)
du (you) (s., inf.) dich (yourself) dir (yourself)
er (he) sich (himself) sich (himself)
sie (she) sich (herself) sich (herself)
es (it) sich (itself) sich (itself)
wir (we) uns (ourselves) uns (ourselves)
ihr (you) (pl., inf.) euch (yourselves) euch (yourselves)
sie (they) sich (themselves) sich (themselves)
Sie (you) (s. or pl., form.) sich (yourself/yourselves) sich (yourself/ yourselves)

Interrogative pronoun who

The table below shows the interrogative (question) pronoun who.

Case Pronoun English Equivalent
Nominative wer who
Accusative wen whom
Dative wem (to) whom
Genitive wessen whose

Definite and indefinite German articles and their cases

German has three words — der, die and das — for the definite article the. To make matters more confusing for someone learning German, these three definite articles change spelling according to the case of the noun that they appear with in a sentence.

The same is true for the indefinite articles. Just as English has two indefinite articles — a and an — that you use with singular nouns, German also has two indefinite articles (in the nominative case): ein for masculine- and neuter-gender words and eine for feminine-gender words.

Another similarity with English is that the German indefinite article ein/eine doesn’t have a plural form. Depending on how you’re describing something plural, you may or may not need to use the plural definite article. Consider the following generalized statement, which requires no article: In Zermatt sind Autos verboten. (Cars are forbidden in Zermatt [Switzerland].)

The following table shows you the definite articles and the corresponding indefinite articles (nominative case):

Gender/Number Definite (the) Indefinite (a/an)
Masculine der ein
Feminine die eine
Neuter das ein
Plural die (no plural form)

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

This article can be found in the category: