While many of the younger generation of Germans are taught German in school, there are still many people in the country who do not speak English.
So, learning a few of the more common words and phrases will go a long way in helping you have the trip of a lifetime while traveling to Germany.
Below is a handy infographic containing the most common phrases along with other information you will find valuable as you plan your future trip to Germany.
If you are a savvy traveler, then you already know the importance of learning a few of the more key phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting.
So, as you plan your trip to Germany, there are key German phrases, words, and greetings you should know to help make yourself less vulnerable as a traveler and tourist while also allowing you to get so much more out of your trip abroad.
Why You Should Learn German Phrases
Still not convinced you need to learn more German phrases? Well, let’s take a look at a few beneficial reasons for doing just that.
Native German Speakers Are More Appreciative
Whenever a native German speaker sees that a tourist has put more effort into learning the language, you will find that they are much more appreciative. It shows a level of respect and demonstrates to them that you want to reach out and connect to as many people as you can on your trip.
No Need to Clutch Your German Phrasebook
As a tourist, you probably have all the travel guides and German phrasebooks you can carry. Well, when you take the time to learn key German phrases, you won’t have to rely so much on your phrasebook. You will have the chance to respond more quickly when you are spoken to.
Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of
When you can express yourself with key German phrases, there is less chance that you can be taken advantage of by taxi drivers, souvenir shops, or restaurants you visit.
Not All Germans Speak English
Finally, you will find that despite some people’s perceptions, not all Germans speak English. Even when visiting the larger and more touristy German cities, you will find many people who know very little English. It can disrupt your trip if you need to hunt down an English speaker whenever you have a question or want to reach out and meet new people.
Learn Your Basic German Greetings
Now that you know the importance of taking the time to learn key German phrases, let’s break it down a bit more before getting to the handy infographic at the end.
Start with Hello
Hallo! Guten Morgen! Guten Tag! Guten Abend! Hello, good morning, good day, and good evening! This is the best place to start when meeting new people in Germany. Then quickly follow this greeting with Ich heiße and insert your name.
A few other key phrases that will help with an opening conversation include:
Wie heißen Sie? What is your name?
Wie geht’s? How are you?
Ich komme aus? I am from…
Now for Some Shopping
Once you have your greetings learned and nailed down, think about the different activities you will be participating in while on your trip. We are willing to bet you are going to do a little shopping while you are away!
To help, we have a few German phrases to help make your shopping experience easier and more memorable.
Haben Sie Andenken? Do you have any souvenirs? This phrase will come in handy when you want to find some neat knickknacks to bring back home to your family and friends.
You can also say Verkaufen Sie… and input the name of the specific item you may be looking for. Once you find the item and need the price, Wie viel kostet das? This means, how much is that?
Other common shopping phrases you may want to practice:
- Haben Sie das in einer [kleineren/größeren] Größe? Do you have that in a smaller/bigger size?
- Darf ich mit Bargeld bezahlen? May I pay with cash?
- Nehmen Sie (Visa/Mastercard, etc.)? Do you accept (Visa/Mastercard, etc.)
- Wo ist der nächste Geldautomat? Where is the closest ATM?
- Wo sind die Toiletten, bitte? Where are the restrooms, please?
Asking for Directions
Ahh, directions. As a tourist in a new location, you will most likely find yourself getting lost and needing directions every once in a while. One of the more important parts of traveling in a foreign country is ensuring you safely reach your destination.
Here are some of the more common transportation you will want to learn:
- Wann fährt der nächste Bus nach …? When does the next bus leave to…?
- Wann fährt der nächste zug nach …? When does the next train leave to…?
- Wann kommt dieser Bus an? When does this bus arrive?
- Wann kommt dieser Zug an? When does this train arrive?
- Was kostet eine Fahrkarte nach …? How much is a ticket to…?
Restaurant and Take Out Phrases
Once you figure out how to go from point A to point B, you have probably worked up quite a hunger and thirst. Let’s learn a few key German phrases to help you order at a restaurant. You will love being able to order your meal like a local!
- Die Speisekarte, bitte – The menu, please
- Ich bin Vegetarier – I’m a vegetarian
- Leitungswasser – Tap water
- Suppe – Soup
- Wein – Wine
- Darf ich eine Quittung haben, bitte? – Can I have a receipt, please?
Now that your belly is full and you have seen some of the amazing sights that Germany has to offer, it is probably time to rest. Here are a few of the more common German phrases for lodging you want to learn before your trip.
- Sind noch Zimmer frei? – Do you have any rooms available?
- Einzelzimmer – Single Room
- Klimaanlage – Air Conditioning
- Ist Frühstück inklusiv? – Is breakfast included?
- Ich bleibe [eine Nacht/zwei Nächte/drei Nächte] – I am staying (one night, two nights, three nights)
- Ich möchte auschecken – I would like to check out
Emergency German Phrases
Finally, let’s review a few important but simple German phrases for emergencies, so you can be prepared for anything.
- Hilfe! – Help!
- Feuer! – Fire!
- Ich brauche einen Arzt – I need a doctor
- Wo ist das nächste Krankenhaus? – Where is the closest hospital?
- Kann ich dein Telefon benutzen? – Can I use your phone?
- Es ist ein Notfall – It’s an emergency
- Wie komme ich zur [amerikanischen/kanadischen/australischen/britischen] Botschaft? – How do I get to the (American/Canadian/Australian/British) embassy?
Which German Words Are Used in English?
As you learn the German language, you will find that many words are also used in English like kindergarten, iceberg, angst, sauerkraut, and Volkswagen.
Like other languages, English has many words that have been taken and adopted from other languages.
If you are a native speaker, you already know and understand the words we mentioned, but did you know they came from a foreign language?
How Quickly Can You Learn German?
German is currently rated a category 2 language, meaning that it is actually pretty similar to English.
For this reason, it is estimated that you can learn the German language in approximately 30 weeks or over 750 classroom hours. To learn German fast, you need to find a motivating factor.
For example, maybe you have a trip planned in the future. Make it your goal to learn the language before you board your plane. When learning, it is important that you also learn all the fundamentals involved with the language.
To keep things interesting and keep you learning, don’t steer clear of slang words, funny words, or idioms. Go all the way and learn everything you can to the more common German phrases.
What Is Considered Rude in Germany?
Did you know that Germans are known for their punctuality? Many consider it extremely rude and deem you unreliable if you arrive late.
So, if you find yourself running late for an appointment or reservation, make sure you call ahead of time and apologize.
You also want to avoid jaywalking, entering a home wearing shoes, and walking in the bicycle lanes.
How Many German Words Do You Need to Know to Be Fluent?
Most fluent speakers should have a passive German vocabulary of around 20,000 words and an active German vocabulary of approximately 5,000 words.
To achieve a higher level of fluency when it comes to the German language, practice, practice, practice.
Many students learning the language will spend around 25 hours a week on practice in class combined with three hours each day of their own individual practice.
Abschließend (In Closing)
Learning useful German phrases before visiting the country can help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable trip all around. You won’t find yourself clutching your German phrasebook, and you can respond much faster than if you had to flip through phrases. You won’t look like a tourist and can meet a lot of friendly people along the way.
Survival German Travel Phrase Guide with Pronunciation The Intrepid Guide Free Download: Easy German Travel Phrase Guide [Infographic]