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Learn German: Key phrases to know

Aug 07, 2015 by Jamie Mc Laughlin

Planning to jet off to Germany? One of the best ways to prepare for your trip is by committing a few German phrases to memory. Knowing a few simple words before you take off will make it easier to get around and meet locals, while ultimately providing a more immersive on-tour experience. Read on to brush up on your language basics and enjoy some happy travels, or Gute Reise!

Key German language phrases

Guten Tag (pronounced: GOO-tehn tahg) This means “good day” and is a common way to say hello. A more informal way to say hi is simply Hallo.

Entschuldigung (pronounced: ehnt-SHOOL-dig-oong) Say excuse me using this word.

Wie geht es Ihnen? (pronounced: vee gayt ehs EE-nehn) This formal phrase means how are you?, but a simpler way to ask someone how it’s going is wie geht’s? Respond with gut, danke to say you’re fine, thanks.

Sprechen Sie Englisch? (pronounced: SHPREHKH-ehn see EHNG-lish) You can use this question to ask do you speak English? Many Germans do speak some English, so the answer might be ja (yes). If nein (no), then you can ask your Tour Director to help with translating.

Woher kommen Sie? (pronounced: voh-HEHR KOH-mehn zee) Curious locals might use this phrase to ask where are you from? Respond with ich komme aus _______, followed by your home country or city.

Wie komme ich nach _______? (pronounced: vee KOH-meh ikh nach) Use this phrase, which means how do I get to _______, followed by a destination to ask locals how to find a certain place during your free time.

Wo ist hier ein gutes Restaurant? (pronounced: voh ist heer īn GOO-tehs reh-stoh-RAHN) If you get hungry or thirsty while you’re out and about, ask this question to saywhere is there a good restaurant nearby?

Bitte (pronounced: BIT-teh) This multi-purpose courtesy word means please, but it can also be used to say you’re welcome or to ask may I help you?

Danke (pronounced: DAHN-keh) Use this to say thank you. To add more emphasis say Vielen Dank, or “thank you very much.”

Auf Wiedersehen (pronounced: owf VEE-dehr-zay-ehn) This is one way to say goodbye—a more informal way is to say T_schüss_ or Mach’s gut.

If you want to get a few German phrases under your belt, click around this online guide to learn some of the basics, or use this free online course to improve your vocabulary and practice pronunciation. Need to look up a couple of words on the spot? Google Translate is a free app that lets you translate quickly and easily on the go—just make sure you’re connected to WiFi to use it.

Do you know Deutsch? Let us know what phrases you’ve found helpful to know for a trip to Germany!


Know before you go
About the author | Jamie Mc Laughlin
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.