Think You Know Basic German Words? Viel Glück!

By: John Miller
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

If you’re planning to visit Europe, you’ll almost certainly run into some German-speaking people during your travels. Knowing a few fundamental German words and phrases is the difference between looking like a gewinner (winner) or a verlierer (loser). Do you know your basic German language?

We’ll review some of the words that make up the foundation of German. “Danke” and “Deutsche” are rather important. You’ll also want to know those phrases that express gratitude and thanks, as they’ll make you seem less like an overbearing American and more like a gracious visitor. And if all of your language practice seems futile, just remember this one: “Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch.” 

Can you count in German? “Null” is, of course, zero. “Eins” is one, and “zwei” is two. Can you finish counting to 10 in this common language? Or will you be stuck with the “zwei” “nummers” we just gave to you?

Individual words are great, but they’re often useless unless you put them together in phrases. We’ll review phrases like “Es tut mir leid” (I’m sorry), too. Take our basic German quiz now! Soon, you’ll be cruising down the autobahn without “eine Sorge in der Welt” (a care in the world).

How do you say "hello" in German?

It’s one of the easiest German words to remember, particularly if your native language is English. Just say, "hallo."

What does "vee gits" mean?

Be considerate of others while you’re in Germany. "Vee gits" means "how are you?"

“Guten tag" means what?

“Guten tag" means "good morning," and if you’re driving a Beemer down the autobahn, it’s a good morning indeed.

What does this phrase mean? "Woher kommen Sie?"

Woher kommen Sie? It means, "Where are you from?" Just say "America" and everyone loves you no matter where you go. Really.

Vielen Dank

This is one of the easiest and most important German phrases. It simply means, "thank you."

Was bedeutet das?

You’re going to say this a lot if you’re new to Germany. "Was bedeutet das" means, "What does that mean?"

"Mein Name ist ____."

Mein Name ist _____, means, "My name is." Bonus points if you follow that by saying, "Slim Shady."

Elf

No, this isn’t a reference to characters from "The Lord of the Rings." "Elf" means "eleven."

Gabel

You’re going to have a hard time eating that blood sausage without a "gabel," or fork.

How do you say "good night"?

After you’ve had too much to drink at Oktoberfest, it’s time to say good night, or "gute nacht."

Was kostet das?

Shopping in downtown Berlin? "Was kostet das" means, "How much is it?"

Freut mich

As you travel through Germany, you’ll meet a lot of nice people. "Freut mich" means, "Nice to meet you!"

Bis später!

You’ll see your new German comrades at the huge rave in Berlin. "Bis später!" means, "See you later!"

"Es geht mir nicht gut"

Too much blood sausage? "Es geht mir nicht gut" means, "I don’t feel well."

Sorry, aber ich verstehe nicht.

If you’re a German newbie, you’ll need to say "I’m sorry, but I don’t understand," a lot. Say, "I’m sorry, but I don’t understand."

Darf ich mit Kreditkarte bezahlen?

If you have no cash, ask "Darf ich mit Kreditkarte bezahlen?" It means, "May I pay with credit card?"

Achtzehn

Once you get past seventeen, you’ll hit "actzehn," or eighteen.

Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch

Want to expedite your conversations? Just say "hallo," followed by "Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch," which means, "I don’t speak German very well."

Ein Glas Wasser, bitte.

Thirsty? "Ein Glas Wasser, bitte." It means you’re asking for a glass of water.

Ein kleines Bier bitte

If you’re still thirsty, but just a little, say, "Ein kleines Bier bitte." That means, "A small beer, please."

Ich brauche Medizin

If you’re not feeling well at the Berlin airport, maybe you "need some medicine." Say "Ich brauche Medizin."

Frauen

She’s a solid German "frauen," a woman who will show you the value of hard work and engineering precision.

Moment, bitte

If you need a second, say, "moment, bitte." It means "just a moment."

Wo?

Lost? Confused? "Wo?" means "where?"

Oben

Your new apartment is a bit out of the way — it’s oben, or "upstairs."

Geben Sie mir einen Rabatt?

If you’re shopping it can’t hurt to say, "Geben Sie mir einen Rabatt?" It means, "Can you give me a discount," and if you say this in fancy Berlin jewelry stores, you’ll undoubtedly be shown the door.

Trotzdem danke

If someone can’t help you, say, "Trotzdem danke." It means, "Thank you, anyway."

West

The west is the best! West is "west" in both German and English.

Gibt es ein Krankenhaus in der Nähe?

If you’re in dire need of medical care ask, "Gibt es ein Krankenhaus in der Nähe?" It means, "Is there a hospital near here?"

Wohin muss ich jetzt gehen?

All done with your travels in Germany? Time to pick a new country. "Wohin muss ich jetzt gehen?" means, "Where should I go now?"

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