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How to Express Your Daily Routine in German

Most Important German Vocabulary for Daily Routine TW

When you get up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? Have coffee, brush your teeth, turn your computer on? Can you say it in German?

This article will explain the most-used German verbs for talking about your daily routine. You use them to tell someone how your day was or explain to your spouse why you were late from work. What is more, our German vocabulary for daily routine carries important grammar lessons that can improve your language skills.

Divisible Verbs

Aufwachen (ouf-vah-hen) to wake up
aufstehen (ouf-shtey-en)to get up

Our first choices are both divisible verbs, which play a key role in describing the beginning of your day.

Examples 

Ich wache um 7:00 Uhr auf. I wake up at seven.
Ich stehe um 7:15 Uhr auf.I get up at quarter past seven.
Du wachst um 8:00 Uhr auf. You wake up at eight.
Er wacht um 9:00 Uhr auf.He wakes up at nine.

Both verbs express a transition from one state to another (ex. from asleep to awake, from lying to standing), which is why they both take the auxiliary verb sein in the past tense:

Du bist sehr früh aufgewacht.You woke up very early.
Sie sind noch um 6:00 Uhr aufgestanden.You (pol.) were up by 6 am.

Reflexive Verbs 

sich die Zähne putzento brush one’s teeth

Our list goes on with reflexive verbs. These verbs act on the subject itself. They always have sich in the infinitive form. Sich rasieren (to shave oneself) is another common daily routine verb that’s reflexive. In English, we wouldn’t say, “Shave yourself!” to someone, only “shave!” but in German, it would be “Rasiere dich!” 

When used in context, sich changes to mich (myself), dich (yourself, informal), sich (himself, herself, itself, themselves or yourself, formal), uns (ourselves) or euch (yourselves). Otherwise, it is conjugated normally:
ich rasiere mich
du rasierst dich
er/sie rasiert sich
wir rasieren uns
ihr rasiert euch
Sie/sie rasieren sich

Let’s go back to “sich die Zähne putzen” for a second because it’s slightly different.

Ich putze mir die Zähne.I brush my teeth.
Du putzt dir die Zähne.You brush your teeth.

While the infinitive also has sich, the reflexive verb takes the dative in the first and second person singular. These are the only exceptions.

Er/sie/es putzt sich die Zähne.
Wir putzen uns die Zähne.
Ihr putzt euch die Zähne.
Sie/sie putzen sich die Zähne.
Likewise with sich waschento wash:
A) Ich wasche mich.I wash.

But:

B). Ich wasche mir die Hände.I wash my hands.

When there is a direct object, the verb takes the dative in the first and second person singular. When there isn’t, it takes the accusative.

In addition, waschen takes the umlaut in the second and third person singular:

Du wäschst dich. You wash.
Du wäschst dir die Hände.You wash your hands.
Er wäscht sich.He washes.
Er wäscht sich die Hände.He washes his hands.
Kaffee / Tee trinkendrink coffee/tea
sich anziehento get dressed

This verb is extra-hard because it is both divisible and reflexive. Other than that, it’s just like our previous example.

Ich ziehe mich an.I get dressed.

But:

Ich ziehe mir den Mantel an.I put on the coat.

Same rule: when there is a direct object, the verb takes the dative in the first and second person singular. When there isn’t, it takes the accusative. It doesn’t matter what clothing item or accessory you use.

Quite a few reflexive verbs offer much needed convenience, for example fernsehen – to watch TV. You don’t need to use the word for television because the verb expresses the entire action of watching television.Enter your text here...

Abends sehe ich fern. I watch TV in the evening.
Du siehst morgens fern.You watch TV in the morning.

In keeping with the rule, the verb sehen (to see) takes second position. The most common prefixes in divisible verbs are: an-, auf-, mit-, vor–, zu-, aus–, ab-, and ein-.

Another example is frühstücken (frue-shtuek-en) - to have breakfast. Like with fernsehen, you don’t need to use the word for breakfast (das Fruhstuck) to express the action. Unlike fernsehen, this verb is not divisible.

Ich frühstücke um 9:00 Uhr.I have breakfast at nine.
Du frühstückst immer Eier mit Toast.You always have eggs with toast for breakfast.

Many daily routine verbs are a mix of reflexive and divisible verbs, such as sich ausruhen (to relax). It is not reflexive in English (few English verbs are), but it is in German.

Ich ruhe mich aus.I relax.
Du ruhst dich aus.You relax, etc.

Other Common Daily Routine Vocab

arbeitento work
zu Mittag essento have lunch
nach Hause kommento come home
vom Büro kommento come (back) from the office/work
zu Abend essento have dinner
den Wecker stellento set the alarm clock
sich ausziehento get undressed

Example 

Ich ziehe mich aus.I get undressed.
Ich ziehe mir das T-Shirt aus.I take off my T-shirt.
ins Bett gehen / sich legengo to bed
Mein Mann geht um 22:00 ins Bett.My husband goes to bed at 10 pm.

Weekend and Free Time Vocab 

Das Wochenende (the weekend) is the time to relax (sich entspannen, sich ausruhen) for people who work a lot during the week. It’s also the time when they have more things to do around the house or other chores. The following is a list of some typical activities and chores people do at the weekend. 

das Auto waschento wash the car
abwaschento do the dishes (divisible prefix)
Wasch endlich ab!Do the dishes finally! (now that you’re not at work and don’t have any other excuse)
einkaufen gehengo shopping
Gehst du mit mir einkaufen / Kaufst du mit mir ein?Will you go shopping with me?
Familie / Freunde einladento invite family / friends over
Ich lade Freunde jeden Samstagabend ein.I invite friends over every Saturday evening.
faulenzento be lazy, lounge around doing nothing in particular (from faul – lazy)
die Hausarbeit machento do the housework
im Internet surfento surf online
Musik hörento listen to music
kochento cook
spät aufstehento get up late
Gerne stehe ich am Wochenende spät auf.I love getting up late on weekends.
Saubermachen, putzento clean up
Wann machen die Kinder sauber?When will the kids clean up?
die Wäsche waschento do the laundry
staubsaugento vacuum (div. prefix)

Quiet Time and Other Laws 

The laws in Germany are pretty strict when it comes to stores’ business hours. Most stores close up Saturday afternoon and don’t reopen until Monday morning. This means you need to stock up for that extra day. Only gas stations are open on Sundays and they have a limited food product range, mostly junk food, which is overpriced to make up for being open on Sunday.

After doing some chores and shopping on Saturday morning, some Germans enjoy cycling (Fahrrad fahren), taking a Spaziergang or spazieren gehen (walk), or joggen (going jogging).

Traditionally, people rest on Sundays. Many go to church and socialize. Families enjoy a home-cooked meal at noon, after which they might go for a stroll. In the afternoon, people share Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake) or a slice of delicious Apfelstrudel (apple pie). 

You are not allowed to partake in loud activities like playing music loudly, mowing your lawn, vacuuming, or doing any home improvement on Sundays and holidays and between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays.

Conclusion

There you have it, a list of German words and phrases for daily routine. What about you? Can you write your routine in German and share it with us in the comments?

About the Author Daniela Kirova

Daniela Kirova is a German and English language teacher, translator, and copywriter. She finished school in the US and holds degrees in English / German linguistics and psychology.

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