Are you going to be visiting Austria, Germany or Switzerland soon? Perhaps you're in contact with native German speakers from contact with family, friends or in the workplace?
In any event, we’ve prepared more than 60 basic German words to help you get off to a right start. We'll cover some basic greetings in German, how to pay when you're at shops, and how to get around town. More importantly, we'll uncover some useful German grammar tips on how to memorize German vocabulary to can reach conversation fluency faster.
Basic German Words You Should Know
Let's start with the basic greetings you should know when you meet someone new.
Paying for things in German
Now we'll share some practical German phrases to help you as you go around town, shopping, drinking and dining out.
Getting around town in German
Here are some basic German words and phrases to help you find your way around town. These words will help you feel confident and comfortable even if you get lost!
Common Questions in German you can ask
When you are talking with native German speakers, you will reach a point where somebody will ask you a question. You may also need to ask some questions yourself.
Here is a handy list of German words to help you ask a question.
Most common German verbs
Verbs liven up any conversation, and you'll need it for just about any conversation you want to have. The following are the most popular verbs you can use in German, translated to English.
- Kommen - Come
- Lachen - Laugh
- Machen - Make
- Sehen - See
- Trinken - Drink
- Essen - Eat
- Gehen - To go (on foot)
- Fahren - To go (with transportation)
How to conjugate verbs in German
In German, you’ll see that the verb changes form more than English. There is one place where German verbs are easier than English verbs though. That is the present tense. While English has both a present tense and a continuous present tense, German uses one form to represent both tenses.
Here is an example:
Another verb we listed was ‘lachen’. You can conjugate it the same way as 'kommen' in the example above.
Take the first four letters, 'lach'- and add the endings you see in the table above. 'Ich lache' means ‘I laugh’, and so on. Machen works the same way as 'lachen'. Trinken also works this wa, so 'Ich trinke' and so on. 'Gehen' is another verb that is easy to conjugate. Just use the chart above: ich gehe etc.
This is a good time to practice your German verb conjugations. How do you say ‘we are drinking’ in German? If you said 'wir trinken', you were spot on.Another verb with a different conjugation is 'essen'. Ich esse, du isst, du ißt, er/sie/es isst, wir essen, ihr esst, ihr eßt, sie/Sie essen. Were you wondering what the ß is? It’s a double 's'. If you can’t find on your device, just type the letter 's' twice.
Your Next Steps
We designed this list of 60+ basic German words to kickstart your German learning journey.
Now, we get that these are a lot of words to memorize. We recommend you try making some old-fashioned flashcards using websites such as Anki or Memrise.
Once you’ve memorized at least 30 German words, start adding some more to your flashcards. It’s a great idea to clump words together as sentences early on. This will help you build up your conversational and listening abilities in German.
Check out Rype's German program, which offers you private language lessons on a daily basis with teachers available for you 24/7.