German All-in-One For Dummies book cover

German All-in-One For Dummies

By: Wendy Foster and Paulina Christensen Published: 06-24-2013

Learn to speak German? Easy.

German All-in-One For Dummies conveniently combines titles from the German Dummies library into one handy guide that covers all of the bases of the German language. For those looking to master fluency in this popular language, this book and CD combo are an efficient and logical choice.

German All-in-One For Dummies brings together content from German For Dummies, 2nd Edition, German For Dummies Audio Set, German Phrases For Dummies, Intermediate German For Dummies, and German Essentials For Dummies. ??Plus, it includes a new CD that allows for even more opportunities to practice speaking the language, as well as additional content on grammar and usage to empower you to use and speak German like a native.

  • Offers instruction and practice exercises for both speaking and writing German
  • Helps you prepare to demonstrate proficiency in conversational German

If you want to improve your German, whether it's for work, travel, or enjoyment, German All-in-One For Dummies has you covered.

Articles From German All-in-One For Dummies

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34 results
34 results
German All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-22-2022

All languages have ways of showing what role a noun plays in a sentence. In English, a noun’s position in the sentence tells you how it’s being used. In German, the endings on the adjectives and articles that accompany the noun, which are based on case, tell you the noun’s function in the sentence. Here’s a quick overview of the German cases and the relationship they have with nouns, articles, and pronouns.

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Basic German: "How Are You?"

Article / Updated 01-13-2020

Getting your hellos and goodbyes straight in German is a matter of keeping in mind how well you know someone. If you’re on formal terms — in other words, if you’re addressing one or more people with Sie (zee) (you, formal) — then you have one set of expressions. When you’re on du (dooh) (you, informal) terms of address, you go with conversational expressions. Asking “Wie geht es Ihnen?” The next step after greeting someone in German is asking the question How are you? Whether you use the formal or the informal version of the question depends on whom you’re talking to. Sound complicated? Well, figuring out which form to use is easier than you may think. The following three versions of How are you? use three dative-case pronouns that represent you. Ihnen (een-en) is the dative equivalent of Sie, dir (deer) represents du, and euch (oyH) stands in for ihr. Here’s a breakdown of what to use when: Wie geht es Ihnen? (vee geyt ês een-en?) (How are you?) This is the formal version. Wie geht es dir? (vee geyt ês deer?) (How are you?) This is the informal, singular version. Wie geht’s? (vee geyts?) (How’s it going?) When you know someone really well, you can use this casual question. Wie geht es euch? (vee geyt ês oyH?) (How are you?) Use this when talking to several people informally. Greetings and introductions are often accompanied by some form of bodily contact. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, hand-shaking is the most common form of bodily contact during greetings and introductions. Female friends may kiss each other on the cheek or give each other a hug. Men usually don’t kiss or hug each other, although they may greet a woman friend with a hug (and a kiss). You may notice that people in Europe often stand closer to you than you’re used to, for example, in stores, on the bus or subway, or during conversations with you. Giving a response to “Wie geht es Ihnen?” In English, the question How are you? is often just a way of saying hello, and no one raises an eyebrow if you don’t answer. In German, however, a reply is customary. Germans expect a reply because for the German speaker, asking “Wie geht es Ihnen?” isn’t the same as a casual hello but rather is a means of showing genuine interest in someone. The following are acceptable answers to the question Wie geht es Ihnen? (How are you?): Danke, gut. (dân-ke, gooht.) (Thanks, I’m fine.) or Gut, danke. (gooht, dân-ke.) (Fine, thanks.) Sehr gut. (zeyr gooht.) (Very good.) Ganz gut. (gânts gooht.) (Really good.) Es geht. (ês geyt.) (So, so.) This German expression actually means it goes. Nicht so gut. (niHt zoh gooht.) (Not so good.) As in English, you would usually accompany your reply with the question And (how are) you? Here’s the formal version: Und Ihnen? (oont een-en?) (And you?) Here’s how to pose the question informally: Und dir? (oont deer?) (And you?) (singular, informal you) Und euch? (oont oyH?) (And you?) (plural, informal you)

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Identifying a German Word’s Gender

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

German grammar has some striking differences to English grammar. One difference that newcomers to German notice right away has to do with word gender. Basically, you have three genders in German — masculine, feminine, and neuter — and although English has the same three genders, they play a very different role in German grammar. Gender in English is what’s called natural gender; for instance, boy and girl are examples of masculine and feminine gender words, while computer is an example of a neuter gender word. In German, most gender is unnatural. So instead of referring to a word’s meaning, gender refers to the word itself. To point out the gender of nouns, you use different gender markers. The three gender markers that mean the (singular) in German are der (masculine), die (feminine), and das (neuter). The plural form of the definite article is die. English has only one gender marker for the definite article of all nouns, namely the. Look at the words for eating utensils, where you have all three bases covered: der Löffel (the spoon), die Gabel (the fork), and das Messer (the knife). Why should a spoon be masculine, a fork feminine, and a knife neuter? Don’t worry if you don’t see any logical pattern here because there isn’t one. So how do you know how to form/use genders correctly in German? First, remember that gender is an integral part of each noun; it’s like a piece of the noun’s identity. So when you add new German nouns to your vocab, be sure to learn the article of each noun at the same time. You won’t be able to use a noun correctly if you don’t know its article. The following table breaks down the three definite articles — der, die, and das — by gender, and shows an example for each. German Definite Articles by Gender (Nominative Case) German Definite Article (English meaning) Gender (Abbreviation Seen in Dictionaries) German Example (English meaning) der (the) masculine (m) der Löffel (the spoon) die (the) feminine (f) die Gabel (the fork) das (the) neuter (n or nt) das Messer (the knife) die (the) plural (pl) die Menschen (the people) Some categories of nouns are consistently masculine, feminine, or neuter. For instance, noun gender usually follows the gender of people: der Onkel (the uncle) and die Schwester (the sister). In many other cases, the noun categories have to do with the ending of the noun. The following two tables provide some fairly reliable categories of nouns and their genders. Common Genders by Noun Ending (Or Beginning) Usually Masculine (der) Usually Feminine (die) Usually Neuter (das) -er (especially when referring to male people/jobs) -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur (if foreign/borrowed from another language) -chen -ich -e -ium -ismus -ei -lein -ist -heit -ment (if foreign/borrowed from another language) -ner -ie -o -ik -tum or -um -in (when referring to female people/occupations) Ge- -keit -schaft -tät -ung Common Genders by Noun Subject Usually Masculine (der) Usually Feminine (die) Usually Neuter (das) Days, months, and seasons: der Freitag (Friday) Many flowers: die Rose (the rose) Colors (adjectives) used as nouns: grün (green) das Grün (the green) Map locations: der Süd(en) (the south) Many trees: die Buche (the beech) Geographic place names: das Europa (Europe) Names of cars and trains: der Audi (the Audi) and der ICE (the Intercity Express) Names of aircraft and ships: die Boeing 767 (the Boeing 767), die Titanic (the Titanic) Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds): schwimmen (to swim) das Schwimmen (swimming) Nationalities and words showing citizenship: der Amerikaner (the American) Cardinal numbers: eine Drei (a three) Young people and animals: das Baby (the baby) Occupations: der Arzt (the doctor) Almost all the chemical elements and most metals: das Aluminium (aluminum) and das Blei (lead) Names of most mountains and lakes: der Großglockner (the highest mountain in Austria) Most rivers outside of Europe: der Amazonas (the Amazon)

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Enjoying a Traditional German Breakfast

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In most German hotels, das Frühstück (dâs frue-shtuek) (breakfast) is generally included in the room price of the hotel accommodation. In smaller towns, if you’re staying at a Pension (pên-see-ohn) (pension) or Frühstückspension (frue-shtueks-pên-see-ohn) (bed-and-breakfast) or at a smaller hotel, you can expect a traditional German breakfast, consisting of the following: Kaffee (kâf-ey) (coffee) Tee (tey) (tea) Fresh Brötchen, Brot, Butter and Marmelade (brert-Hen, broht, boot-er, [and] mâr-me-lah-de) (fresh rolls, bread, butter, and jam) weich gekochtes Ei (vayH ge-koH-tes ay) (soft-boiled egg) served in an egg cup Choice of Aufschnitt and Käse (ouf-shnit [and] kai-ze) (cold cuts and cheese) The larger hotels in cities generally offer a breakfast buffet that includes the preceding items, as well as the following: Cornflakes (cornflakes [as in English]) (cornflakes) Müsli (mues-lee) (muesli) frisches Obst (frish-es ohpst) (fresh fruit) Variety of Brot and Säfte (broht [and] zêf-te) (bread and juices) Note: If you can’t do without scrambled eggs or fried eggs, you may need to put in a special order. If you choose to have a traditional weich gekochtes Ei (vayH ge-koH-tes ay) (soft-boiled egg), here’s a short primer on how the Germans eat a soft-boiled egg for breakfast: Gather the proper tools — namely, an egg cup and a knife (one with a serrated edge is a good choice). For the very sophisticated soft-boiled egg eaters, there are sometimes cute, little quilted egg cup warmers to keep the egg warm while it’s resting in its egg cup before you eat it. Some people also eat their soft-boiled eggs with a special egg spoon made of nonreactive material such as ceramic or mother-of-pearl material. Crack open the egg, using one of two methods: Carefully aim the knife horizontally approximately an inch from the top of the egg and then decapitate the top. This step actually involves a sawing motion to get through the shell. If you’re a beginner, you may want to make sure that no one’s sitting too close to you, just in case the top of the egg flies off. First, crack the eggshell gently in several places around the top, using the back of the spoon; then peel away enough shell to be able to get a spoon into the egg. This method is safer than the first one. Sprinkle a little salt in the egg, spoon it out, and enjoy. If you like to eat soft-boiled eggs the German way, you may want to purchase some egg cups and egg warmers while you’re traveling through German-speaking Europe. Even if you don’t use them often, these unique items make for interesting conversation about your trip.

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Getting a Feel for German Modal Verbs

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Modal verbs help you convey your attitude or explain how you feel about an action in German. They usually accompany another verb and appear in the second position of a sentence. The verb they assist generally appears at the end of the clause. The following table shows each German modal verb in infinitive form along with the English translation, followed by a statement using the modal verb. Look at the various ways of modifying the statement Ich lerne Deutsch (I learn German) with the modal verbs. Notice that the modal verb is in second position in the sentence, and the main verb gets booted to the end. German Modal Verb Translation Example English Equivalent dürfen may, to be allowed to Ich darf Deutsch lernen. l may/am allowed to learn German. können can, to be able to Ich kann Deutsch lernen. l can/am able to learn German. mögen to like to Ich mag Deutsch lernen. l like to learn German. möchten would like to Ich möchte Deutsch lernen. l would like to learn German. müssen must, to have to Ich muss Deutsch lernen. l must/have to learn German. sollen should, to be supposed to Ich soll Deutsch lernen. I’m supposed to/should learn German. wollen to want to Ich will Deutsch lernen. I want to learn German. These verbs all have regular verb endings in their plural forms (wir, ihr, sie, and Sie). Most of them also have irregular verb changes, some of which you can see in the examples in the table.

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Definite and Indefinite German Articles and Their Cases

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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)

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Understanding the Basics of German Cases

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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

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German Personal Pronouns and Their Cases

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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. Nominative (nom.) Accusative (acc.) Dative (dat.) 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.)

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Using Word Order to Express Yourself Clearly in German

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In English and German, you purposely arrange words in a certain order to communicate clearly. After all, putting words together in an unusual or inappropriate word order can cause confusion or, even worse, a breakdown in communication. So you do yourself a huge favor in getting your message across by following German word order. You likely use the right English word order without even thinking about it. To become just as smart with German word order, follow these five essential guidelines: The conjugated verb is generally in second position in the sentence. The subject or another element is in first position, and the verb comes next. Here are a couple of examples: Wir haben einen Hund. (We have a dog.) The verb haben (have) is in second position, and the subject wir (we) is in first position. In meiner Familie hatten wir keinen Hund. (We didn’t have a dog in my family.) In meiner Familie (in my family) is in first position. The verb hatten (had) is in second position, and the subject wir (we) follows the verb. Sentences with two or three verb parts follow a distinctive word order. The word order is generally as follows: Subject + conjugated verb + object or other information + other verb part(s) at the end. Here’s what this order looks like: Wir haben einen Hund gekauft. (We bought a dog.) The verb has two parts, haben (have) and gekauft (bought). Wir haben einen Hund kaufen wollen. (We wanted to buy a dog.) The verb has three parts: haben, kaufen, and wollen (wanted to buy). With yes/no questions that ask for a yes/no response, the inverted word order comes into play, meaning that instead of the subject-verb word order, the two are flipped. Here are two examples: Regnet es oft im Sommer? (Does it often rain in the summer?) The conjugated verb is regnet (rains), and it is followed by the subject es (it) in second position. Haben Sie die Nachrichten im Fernsehen gesehen? (Have you seen the news on TV?) The conjugated auxiliary verb haben (have) is in first position. It is followed by the subject Sie (you) in second position. Gesehen (seen), the past participle of sehen (to see), is at the end of the sentence. In sentences that have a subordinate clause (a clause that cannot stand on its own), the verb or verbs in that clause appear at the end of the clause. Here’s how this word order looks: Sie ist sehr optimistisch, obwohl sie arbeitslos ist. (She’s very optimistic even though she’s jobless.) The subordinate clause begins with obwohl (although), and the verb ist (is) goes to the end of the clause. One more mantra of German word order is time, manner, and place, which tells you that these three bits of information need to appear in that word order in a German sentence. To get the hang of how this mantra works, imagine you’re planning a ski trip. You want to decide when to go (time), how to travel (manner), and where to go (place). Here’s an example sentence that includes all three elements: Ich fahre nächste Woche mit dem Zug nach Innsbruck. (I’m taking the train to Innsbruck next week.) Nächste Woche (next week) deals with time, mit dem Zug (the train) tells the manner of travel, and nach Innsbruck (to Innsbruck) describes the place.

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Asking Questions Politely in German

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you’re in a German-speaking country, you’re bound to find yourself in a number of situations where you need to ask a lot of questions as you find your way around — for example, where the nearest bank is or how long the train will be delayed — or you may simply need to ask someone to speak more slowly. You many find the following vocabulary useful in various situations. These expressions can help you get the attention of someone, excuse yourself, or ask someone to repeat himself: Entschuldigung! (I’m sorry./Excuse me.) Entschuldigen Sie, bitte! (Excuse me, please./I beg your pardon.) Entschuldigung? (Pardon?) Verzeihung bitte. (Excuse me./Pardon me.) Verzeihung! (Sorry!) Wie bitte? (Pardon?/Sorry?/I beg your pardon?) You use this phrase when you don’t understand what someone has said. After you get the person’s attention, you may need to follow up with a request for help. The following are some common requests for getting help and asking someone to repeat himself or to speak more slowly: Könnten Sie mir bitte helfen? (Could you help me, please?) Könnten Sie das bitte wiederholen? (Could you repeat that, please?) Könnten Sie bitte langsamer sprechen? (Could you please speak more slowly?) In a restaurant, you can get service with the following expressions. Just remember to start with Entschuldigen Sie, bitte! (Excuse me, please!) Was würden Sie zum Essen empfehlen? (What would you recommend to eat?) Bringen Sie mir/uns bitte die Speisekarte/die Rechnung. (Please bring me/us the menu/check.) Könnten Sie bitte einen Löffel/eine Serviette bringen? (Could you bring a spoon/a napkin, please?) Ich hätte gern . . . (I’d like . . .) When ordering food or drink, add the item from the menu to the end of this phrase. When you’re shopping in a department store or other large store, the following may help you navigate it more easily: Wo ist die Schmuckabteilung/Schuhabteilung? (Where is the jewelry/shoe department?) Wo finde ich die Rolltreppe/die Toiletten? (Where do I find the escalator/restrooms?) Haben Sie Lederwaren/Regenschirme? (Do you carry leather goods/umbrellas?) Wie viel kostet das Hemd/die Tasche? (How much does the shirt/bag cost?) Könnten Sie das bitte als Geschenk einpacken? (Could you wrap that as a present, please?) When you’re walking around town and need directions on the street, the following questions can help you find your way: Wo ist das Hotel Vierjahreszeiten/Hotel Continental? (Where is the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten/Hotel Continental?) Gibt es eine Bank/eine Bushhaltestelle in der Nähe? (Is there a bank/bus stop near here?) Könnten Sie mir bitte sagen, wo die Post/der Park ist? (Could you tell me where the post office/park is, please?) These questions come in handy when you’re taking public transportation: Wo kann ich eine Fahrkarte kaufen? (Where can I buy a ticket?) Wie viele Haltestellen sind es zum Bahnhof/Kunstmuseum? (How many stops is it to the train station/art museum?) Ist das der Bus/die U-Bahn zum Haydnplatz/Steyerwald? (Is this the bus/subway to Haydnplatz/Steyerwald?) Wie oft fährt die Straßenbahn nach Charlottenburg/Obermenzing? (How often does the streetcar go to Charlottenburg/Obermenzing?) Ich möchte zum Hauptbahnhof. In welche Richtung muss ich fahren? (I’d like to go to the main train station. In which direction do I need to go?) Von welchem Gleis fährt der Zug nach Köln/Paris ab? (Which track does the train to Cologne/Paris leave from?)

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