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17 German Expressions You Should Learn Before Visiting Germany

Planning on visiting Germany soon? Well, you should probably get familiar with these important German expressions if you want to make the most of your trip!

Heading off to Germany soon? Whether you plan to visit Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, or another city, we recommend you learn some German expressions before you go.We’ve categorized these expressions by basic communications, getting around, shopping & dining, and emergency situations.

Basic German Expressions

Let’s take a look at three useful German expressions for basic communications that you should learn before visiting Germany:

  • Einen schönen Tag noch!
  • Ich verstehe das nicht
  • Wie spät ist es?

With these three expressions, you’ll be able to wish somebody a good day, to let them know you don’t understand, and to ask the time.The first expression is Einen schönen Tag noch! Let’s take this expression apart word by word. The noun in the sentence is Tag which means ‘day’. The adjective in the sentence is schön which means ‘beautiful’. Noch literally means ‘again’ and ein is ‘one’ or ‘a’. Because this is an idiomatic expression, you’ll sound more fluent if you can use this complete expression, which happens to be in the accusative case. If the grammatical breakdown bored you, don’t worry. The important thing to remember is that your German will sound more natural when you use this full expression to wish the locals a nice day by saying: einen schönen Tag noch!The second expression Ich verstehe das nicht means ‘I don’t understand that.' The third expression Wie spät ist es? Means ‘What time is it?’ and literally means ‘How late is it?’

Getting Around Germany

  • Entschuldigung, wo ist….?
  • Ich habe mich verlaufen / ich habe mich verirrt.
  • Wo befinden sich die Toiletten?
  • Wo kann ich ein Busticket/Zugticket kaufen?
  • Können Sie ein Foto von mir/uns machen?
  • Wie komme ich zum/zur …. ?

With these German expressions, you’ll be able to: ask where something is, let somebody know you’re lost, ask for the toilet, find out where to buy a bus or train ticket, request someday to take a photo of you, and ask for directions.

Where is?...

The first sentence in the ‘getting around’ category, Entschuldigung, wo ist….? means “Excuse me, where is…?”The next sentence Ich habe mich verlaufen / ich habe mich verirrt means ‘I’m lost’. Notice that in German you are saying ‘I have lost myself.’ Notice there are two different ways of getting lost in German:1) verlaufen means you’re on foot, while 2) verirrt means you are using transportation, such as a bike or a car. Don’t make the mistake of saying ich bin verloren which means “I’m doomed”.


In the US, it seems toilet is almost a dirty word. Many people use euphemisms such as restroom, powder room, ladies’ room, men’s room, etc. Don’t be shy in Germany. Sure, Germans also have euphemisms for toilet, such as Klo, Topf, Häuschen and so forth. But when people in German want to use a toilet, it’s not unusual to just use the word ‘toilet.’ Just get used to saying toilette. A polite way to ask, “where is the toilet?” while in Germany is Wo befinden sich die Toiletten?Then we have: Wo kann ich ein Busticket/Zugticket kaufen?This will help you find where to buy a bus ticket or a train ticket. Notice the two compound words. German is notorious for compound words and these two aren’t so bad. Unless you move to Germany, you won’t need to worry about long words such as, Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, which means “insurance companies providing legal protection.”

Can you take a photo?...

Können Sie ein Foto von mir/uns machen? means in the plural or polite form “Can you take a photo of me/us?”

How do I get to?...

Wie komme ich zum/zur …. ? is a way to ask, “how to I get to…” As for zum/zur these words come from zu + either dem/der. For example: Wie komme ich zur Post and Wie komme ich zur Büro. You’ll learn that German is a language with lots of prepositions and that some of them such as zu + dem / dur form contractions.

Shopping & Dining in German

  • Haben Sie etwas Billigeres?
  • Um wieviel Uhr öffnet / schließt das Geschäft?
  • Wie viel kostet das?
  • Akzerptierien Sie ausländische (Kredit)Karten?
  • Können Sie eine gute/ein gutes …. empfehlen?

With these expressions, you’ll be able to: ask for something less expensive, find out shop hours, ask a price, find out whether foreign credit cards are accepted, and ask for a good __________ (take your pick of pub, cafe, restaurant, etc)The first sentence, Haben Sie etwas Billigeres? in the ‘shopping and dining’ category means: “Do you have something cheaper”The next sentence: 'Um wieviel Uhr öffnet / schließt das Geschäft?' gives you the option of asking opening and closing hours: öffnet / schließt means ‘opens / closes’ So you’re asking ‘At what time opens / closes the shop’.Sometimes you find a shop in Germany that only accepts credit cards from German banks. Other times only cards with chips and PIN numbers work. So before you buy something, in Germany, it doesn’t hurt to ask: Akzerptierien Sie ausländische (Kredit)Karten? which means ‘Do you accept foreign (credit) cards?’Können Sie eine gute/ein gutes …. empfehlen? is a polite or plural way of asking “Do you know a good …. that you could recommend? Fill in the blank with your choice of eine Kneipe, ein Cafe or ein Restaurant…or something else. Did you already know what is eine Kneipe? It’s a pub. Just as a side note, in Germany, pubs are non-smoking now, with exception of Berlin, has some establishments that still allow smoking.

Handling Emergencies in German

  • Das ist ein Notfall.
  • Kann ich Ihr Telefon/Handy benutzen?
  • Iche brauche einen Arzt. Ich bin krank.

With these expression, you’ll be able to: let somebody know about an emergency, ask for somebody to let you use their cell phone, declare you need a doctor because you are ill.The first sentence in the ‘emergency’ category Das ist ein Notfall simply means: “It’s an emergency” and we hope you won’t be needing to use this one during your visit to Germany.The next sentence in this category is Kann ich Ihr Telefon/Handy benutzen? which means ‘Can I use your phone / cell phone?’ Notice the classic German structure where the verb comes at the end. While German is known for placing the verb at the end, you’ve seen plenty of exceptions in this collection of German expressions.

Continue your German learning journey

Rype’s got some resources for you to continue with your German. This includes some easy German songs from Nena, David Hasselhoff, Kraftwerk, and The Scorpions among othersWe also have a complete list of useful German phrases for beginners, which will help you when shopping in Germany. It also has German expressions for social encounters with Germans and more useful phrases for getting around.Our post on basic German words will help you build up your essential vocabulary and help you learn about verb conjugations. You’ll also learn how to ask questions using who, when, where, what, why, and how.If you want to watch a video on German expressions, our good friend Ania has an awesome video on this topic! Hope you enjoy these!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG6nEZe8pO0

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