German Conversation Basics

german conversationBy mastering German conversation basics, you will be able to communicate in German with others, and this will prove quite useful when traveling abroad. While the language may at first seem intimidating, learning German conversational phrases that are used every day is a great place to start.

Let’s take a look at expressions, words, and phrases used in everyday German conversation. These phrases will come in handy and prove most useful if you memorize them. Familiarizing yourself well with basic German words and expressions will make it easier to learn the language. Once you have the basics under your belt, you can progress and build your German vocabulary in no time.

Let’s get started!

German Greetings

Being polite in German-speaking countries is just as important as it is in any other culture, so let’s take a look at some greetings and some basic pleasantries required for polite German conversation.

English Greeting                                German Phrase

Hello!                                                   Hallo!

Good morning!                                   Good Morgen!

Good evening!                                    Guten Abend!

Good night!                                         Gute Nacht!

See you later!                                      Bis später!

Welcome!                                            Willkommen!

Thank you!                                          Danke!

You’re welcome!                                Kein Problem!/ Keine Ursache!

Enjoy! (For meals)                            Guten Appetit!

Bless you! (For sneezes)                  Gesundheit!

What’s new?                                      Was gibt’s Neues?

Nothing much.                                   Nicht viel.

Good bye!                                           Auf Wiedersehen!

German Survival Phrases

The following phrases will prove useful every day when traveling in German-speaking countries or just for interacting in a basic level in German. Try to memorize this list of German words and phrases.

English                                                German

Yes                                                       Ja

No                                                        Nein

Please                                                 Bitte

Thank you.                                      Danke.

Nothing, thank you.                    Nichts, danke.

You’re welcome.                          Bitte schön.

No problem.                                   Kein problem.

Excuse me; sorry.                        Entschuldigung!

Of course.                                        natürlich.

Thank you very much.              Vielen Dank.

No, thank you.                              Nein, danke.

I’m sorry.                                       Es tut mir leid.

Forgive me.                                   Verzeihen Sie.

Once you have mastered familiar phrases such as those listed above, it is important to familiarize yourself with German pronouns.

German Pronouns

It is essential to learn how to refer to people in German in order to master German conversation. The most common way to refer to people is by using personal pronouns. In German, the pronouns for you and they are complicated by gender and formality. You will use variations of these pronouns depending on to whom you are referring and how well you know them.

ich (I)

er (he)

sie (she)

es (it)

wir (we)

du (you [singular/informal])

ihr (you [plural/informal])

Sie (you [singular, plural, and formal])

sie (they)

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 the informal pronoun, du (you).

When meeting people in German-speaking countries, be sure to use the appropriate formal title. A man would be called Herr, which is the same as Mr. or Sir. A woman is called Frau whether she is married or not.

It is also helpful to know the correct vocabulary term for referring to people based on their age, gender, or relationship to you.

der Mann (man; husband)

die Frau (woman; wife)

der Junge (boy)

das Mädchen (girl)

die Familie (family)

das Kind (child)

der Vater (father)

die Mutter (mother)

der Sohn (son)

die Tochter (daughter)

der Bruder (brother)

die Schwester (sister)

der Freund [M]; die Freundin [F] (friend)

German Articles

The gender of a noun determines the article you use with it. With masculine (M) nouns, you use ein (a; an) or der (the). With feminine (F) nouns, you use eine (a; an) or die (the). With neuter (N) nouns, you use ein (a; an) or das (the).

Now that you are familiar with German pronouns and articles, let’s take a look at more German conversation survival phrases that will prove helpful to know during your travels. Make sure to learn the differences between the formal and familiar pronouns. When in doubt, use the formal form of the German pronoun.

How to Introduce Yourself

Of course it is not necessary to learn an entire language before traveling abroad, but it is polite to learn commonly used German phrases when traveling to German-speaking countries. Learning to ask in German if someone speaks English and how to introduce yourself in German shows good manners, but learning another language also opens doors to communicating with people of another culture. Memorize these phrases before traveling, you will find them quite useful and essential!

Incorporating a language learning program can also make it easier to learn German conversation and to build your vocabulary in a foreign language more quickly.

English phrase                                            German phrase

Do you speak English/German?          Sprechen Sie Englisch/Deutsch?

Just a little.                                                  Nu ein bisschen.

Can you translate that for me?            Können Sie das übersetzen?

What is your name?                                 Wie ist dein Name?

My name is…                                              Mein Name ist…

Nice to meet you!                                     Schön, Sie kennenzulernen!

You are very kind.                                   Du bist/ Sie sind sehr freundlich.

Where are you from?                              Woher kommst du/ kommen Sie?

I am from the U.S.                                    Ich komme aus den U.S. A.

I am American.                                         Ich bin Amerikaner.

Where do you live?                                 Wo wohnst du/ wohnen Sie?

I live in the U.S.                                        Ich wohne in den U.S.A.

What do you do for a living?              Was ist dein/ Ihr Beruf?

I work as a translator.                           Ich bin Übersetzer.

I like German.                                           Ich mag Deutsch.

How old are you?                                    Wie alt bist du/ sind Sie?

I am twenty years old.                          Ich bin zwanzig Jahre (alt).

I have to go.                                              Ich muss gehen.

I will be right back.                                Ich bin sofort wieder da.

Useful German Phrases for Travelers

English phrase                                         German phrase

I don’t understand.                               Ich verstehe nicht.

Do you understand?                             Verstehen Sie?/ Verstehst du?

Will you please repeat that?              Bitte wiederholen Sie?

Could you speak slower?                    Können Sie langsamer sprechen?

I need some information.                  Ich brauche Auskunft.

I need some help.                                  Ich brauche Hilfe.

I don’t know.                                            Ich weiß nicht.

How do you say…in German?           Wie sagt man…auf deutsch?

What is this?                                             Was ist das?

I’m going to the park.                           Ich gehe zum Park.

The museum isn’t open.                       Das Museum ist nicht offen.

May I see a map?                                    Darf ich mir einen Stadtplan ansehen?

My German is bad.                                Mein Deutsch ist schlecht.

Don’t worry!                                            (Nur) Keine Sorge!

Where is/ where are?                           Wo ist/ Wo sind?…

There is/ there are…                             Es gibt…

Great!/ Fantastic!                                  Prima!/ Super!

If you are traveling abroad, learning these phrases is essential. Looking into a German conversation lesson designed especially for travelers is also a great way to learn German phrases and expressions that are useful for everyday conversation.

Asking for Help and Directions

The following German conversation phrases are useful to know when navigating your way around during your travels.

English phrase                                     German phrase

I’m lost.                                                   Ich habe mich verlaufen.

Can you help me?                                Kann ich dir/ Ihnen helfen?

Can I help you?                                    Kann ich dir/ Ihnen helfen?

Where is the bathroom?                   Wo ist das Badezimmer?

Where is the pharmacy?                   Wo ist das Apotheke?

How much is this?                                Was kostet des?

Excuse me… (To ask for something)  Entschuldigen Sie bitte…

Excuse me! (To pass by)                     Darf ich mal vorbei?

Communication

Use the following German phrases in conversation when meeting someone new and exchanging phone numbers, and making plans.

English phrase                                             German phrase

Can I have your phone number?         Kann ich deine Telefonnummer haben?

My (telephone) number is…                  Meine Telefonnummer ist…

You can call me.                                         Du kannst mich jederzeit.

You can send me a text message.       Du kannst mir eine SMS.

You can write me an e-mail.                 Du kannst mire eine E-mail schreiben.

Write it down, please.                             Schreib/ Schreiben Sie es bitte auf.

Are you free tomorrow evening?       Hast Du morgen Abend Zeit?

I would like to invite you to dinner.   Ich möchte Sie zum Essen einladen.

Would you like to go for a walk?           Möchten Sie für einen Spaziergang                                                                                     gehen?

Useful Expressions and Words

The following expressions and words are useful to know to be able to hold a conversation in German. The more words you know, the better, so try to learn as many as you can.

English                                    German

Good/ Bad/ So-so               gut/ schlecht/ so la-la

Big/Small                                groß/ klein

Today/ Now                          heute/ jetzt

Tomorrow/ Yesterday     morgen/ gestern

Do you like it?                       Gefällt es Ihnen?

I really like it!                        Ich mag es!

I’m hungry/ thirsty.           Ich habe Hunger/ Durst.

In the morning/evening.  am Morgen/ morgens/ am Abend/ abends

At night.                                   in der Nacht

This/ That                                dies(es/er/e) / das

Here/ There                            hier/ dort

Me/ you                                    Ich/ Du

Him/ her                                   Er/ sie

Really?                                       Wirklich?/ Echt?

Look!                                           Guck (mal)!/ Schau (mal)!

Hurry up!                                  Beeil dich!/ beeilen Sie sich!

What?                                          was?

Where?                                       wo?

What time is it?                       Wieviel Uhr ist es?

I love you.                                Ich liebe dich/ Sie.

Numbers

Following is a list of the German words for numbers one through ten.

One, two, three                       eins, zwei, drei

Four, five, six                          vier, fünf, sechs

Seven, eight                             sieben, acht

Nine, ten                                   neun, zehn

If you will be traveling soon and do not have a lot of time to study the language, a crash course in German may help you at least learn the basics.