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40 Basic German Words and Phrases to Help You Survive a Trip to Germany

Planning a trip to a German-speaking country? Or perhaps you are starting to learn German? You’ll need a list of the most basic German words and phrases.

From the simplest German words to the phrases you need to get by, here’s the list you need together with:

  • its English translation, and
  • a phonetic pronunciation guide

At the end of each section, you can also take the mini quizzes to make sure the words stick to your memory.

Ready? Let’s begin!

I. The Very Basics

Let’s start with the basic German words and phrases. With just these in your arsenal, you can already survive the simplest conversations!

German word / phraseEnglish translationPronunciation
hallohellohello
JaYesya
NeinNoniyn
BittePleasebi-te.
DankeThank youdân-ke
Bitte schön.you're welcomebi-te shurn
Entschuldigen Sie.Excuse me (getting attention)ent-SHOOL-dee-gun zee
Entschuldigung!Excuse me (sorry, asking pardon)ênt-shool-dee-goong
Wie heißen Sie?What’s your name?vee hays-en zee?
Ich heiße….My name is…iH hays-e….
Freut michPleased to meet youfroyt miH

Mini Quiz 1

1. What does bitte schön mean?

Click to reveal the answer

2. Entschuldigen Sie and Entschuldigung both mean excuse me. But what makes them different from each other?

Click to reveal the answer

3. To say “pleased to meet you”, you say:

Click to reveal the answer

You can learn more German greetings in this article: A Quick Guide to German Greetings

II. Simple Questions

Now let’s talk about the simplest German questions. There’s another article here in this website that talks about this with more detail.

You can check it out here: Basic German Questions Every Traveler Should Know

For now let’s just run through the most simple ones that you can memorize quickly.

Wo?Where?vo
Wann?When?van
Wie?How?vee
Warum?Why?va-room
Wer?Who?vair
Welches?Which?vel-shes
Wo ist...?Where is...?vo ist
Wie viel?How much?vee feel
Wie viele?How many?vee feel-e
Was ist das?What's that?vass ist dass

Mini Quiz 2

1. How do you ask “why?” in German?

Click to reveal the answer

2. What does “wo ist..?" mean

Click to reveal the answer

3. True or false: wie in German means who

Click to reveal the answer

Expressing likes or dislikes

In daily life, you’ll always be faced with different choices. Which one should you take? Which one do you like? Do you hate the one in front of you? Speak your mind with these simple German phrases!

Ich hätte gern...I'd like...ixh hett-er gairn...
Ich möchte...I want...ixh merxht-er
Es gefällt mir.I like it.ess ge-felt meer
Es gefällt mir nicht.I don't like it.ess ge-felt meer nixht
In Ordnung/Einverstanden.OK/Agreed.in ord-noong/iyn-fer-shtan-den
Das ist gut.That's good / That’s fine.dass ist goot
Ich will/Wir wollen...I want/We want...ixh vill/veer voll-en
Ich bin/Wir sind...I am/We are....ixh bin/veer zint
Ich habe/Wir haben...I have/We have...ixh har-ber/veer har-b

Mini Quiz 3:

1. To say “I want...” in German, you say:

Click to reveal the answer

2. Das ist gut means

Click to reveal the answer

3. When you like something, you say:

Click to reveal the answer

Speaking Difficulties

When you’re in a place where you don’t speak the language that well, there’s bound to be some conversational hiccups. Solve any speaking difficulties you might have with the help of these useful phrases.

Sprechen Sie Englisch?Do you speak English?shprêH-en zee êng-lish?
Ich kann nicht [so gut] Deutsch sprechen.I can't speak German (well).eesh kahn nikht [zo goot] doytsh shpreH-en
Ich verstehe nicht.I don’t understand.ixh fair-shtay-er nixht
Können Sie das bitte wiederholen?Can you repeat that please?kern-en zee dâs bi-te
vee-der-hoh-len?
Könnten Sie bitte langsamer sprechen?Would you be able to speak slower please?kern-en zee bi-te lâng-zâm-er
shprêH-en?

Needing Help

Need help finding your way around? Or perhaps it’s a different type of emergency? Here are some basic German phrases to help get you un-stuck!

Würden Sie mir bitte helfen?Would you help me please?vuer-den zee meer bi-te
hêl-fen?
Ich weiß nichtI don't knowixh viyss nixht
Ich habe mich verirrt.I'm lost.eesh HAH-buh meesh fer-EERT
Kannst du/Können Sie mir das auf der Karte zeigen?Can you show me on the map?kahnst doo/KOON-en zee meer dahss ouf dayr KAHR-tuh TSIGH-gen?
Ich kenne mich hier nicht aus.I don’t know my way around here.iH kên-e miH heer niHt ous.

Mini Quiz 4

1. Ich verstehe nicht means

Click to reveal the answer

2. How do you say “I’m lost” in German?

Click to reveal the answer

3. Würden Sie mir bitte helfen? Means

Click to reveal the answer

Conclusion

There you go with the most basic survival words and phrases in German. With these in your back pocket, you’re ready to take on a few conversations in German--with correct pronunciation, too!

To expand your vocabulary and boost your reading and listening skills, check out German short stories below!

A  FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO LEARN GERMAN

  • 10 entertaining short stories about everyday themes
  • Practice reading and listening with 90+ minutes of audio 
  • Learn 1,000+ new German vocabulary effortlessly!

About the Author Janey

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