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5 tips to improve your German

Whether for work, for study reasons or because you are planning on moving to Germany, learning German is a life experience on its own. Few courageous people pursue the learning of the language for mere delight. Although seemingly impossible at first, these 5 advices can be of great help (if coupled with good will and determination).

1.Don’t expect to be perfect

The first encounters with compound words, not to mention the peculiar gender allocation, can be absolutely demoralizing. But more than deciding to learn all of the new vocabularies by heart, and shyly wait for years of courses before attempting to mumble a few sentences, the advice is to throw yourself with no shame nor fear. True for every language, this is particularly pertinent to German.

2. Read your favorite books in German

To read a text, whether a book, short story, poem or what not in German can be of great help to learn new expressions that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to learn. For beginners even children’s’ books can help to find confidence with the language. Even more, a bilingual edition of the text could be more helpful for others. If instead you want to throw yourself in a fully German translation, don’t get discouraged if having to run to the dictionary often.

3. Listen to songs and watch movies in German

If you still don’t know German bands or singers, the time has come to route around Youtube. The lyrics of a song as we all know are easier to learn and allow us to expand our vocabulary. Regarding movies, as for books it would be advised to start by watching those that we already familiar with. We already talked about 5 useful TV series that can help to enhance our knowledge of the language. If the sounds might sound incomprehensible at first, don’t give up, with a good dose of determination you will start to understand bits and pieces and trust us, it will be a great satisfaction.

4. Watch tutorials on Youtube

On Youtube there are several video-courses on pronunciation and grammar tips. Even following videos on topics that interest us can help us develop a specific lexicon and enhance our interest. It doesn’t matter whether they are ‘serious’ videos or not, the important thing is to be motivated by curiosity and not only be a sense of duty.

5. Get out of your shell and make friends!

Although it might be hard at first, it is very important to seek for German people with whom you can converse, overcoming the initial obstacle of embarrassment and the lack of appropriate terms for the occasion. Alcohol in these contexts is known to help dissolve and lose many inhibitions, but everything must start with the willpower and the desire to open up their own horizons, to confront and integrate into the new environment in which you want to live.l

Another option out of the list that we feel is advising you, fundamental to learning the basics of grammar and to melting in the conversation, is attending a German course. If your choice falls on this option (obviously in addition to the others), you can write to info@berlinoschule.com, Berlin’s Berlin Magazine German School. You will be provided with all the information to enroll yourself in a course with qualified teachers and an international environment to start practicing this beautiful language directly on the field!

 

Photo: CC BY SA 2.0  Pexels

10 German words for a night out in Berlin

Berlin’s alternative and anarchic nightlife can be suitable for almost everyone. If you are visiting for a weekend, or having been living here for some time, you want to be well-prepared to know how to address in German your party mood or you after day hangover state. Deutsche Welle listed ten curious points to be aware of before going out for a night in Berlin.

FEIERABEND

Feel like going out tonight? First thing, you have to break free from working commitments and the stress. Germans have a word to describe exactly that moment: ‘Feierabend’, which literally means, to finish work or to knock off (work).

AUFBREZELN

After work, a quick pit-stop back home to freshen up is definitely something worth considering before a nice night out. After all, you never know how the night is going to evolve. Aufbrezeln means exactly this; to pamper up, whether with a fresh t shirt for boys and a line of lipstick for girls (or the other way round..).

VORGLÜHEN

Although it wouldn’t be proper to incite readers to drink, not to drink German beers would be like missing out on a pillar of the country’s cultural heritage. Vorglühen, in English to pre-heat / pre-drink, is exactly that: the drinking of one, two or, who are we kidding, three or more drinks prior to commencing the night out, to relax and zone out of the working mind and get into the partying one.

WEGBIER

After a while in Berlin you’ll notice it: whether it be one girl or boy walking on her own in the sole company of a cold beer in their hand, or bigger groups of people holding two or more bottles of beers (coats have pockets after all), you’ll be able to spot them in any neighbourhood of the city at any time of the night. A Wegbier is the beer you take along with you for the walk.

n.b. although drinking in public is legal in Germany, it is well advised to contain your exuberant- drunk spirits and maintain a dignified behavior – a bit of style never harms.

TÜRSTEHER

Sven: if you haven’t met him you surely heard about him. Berghains’ bouncer, in German, would be the Türsteher, as so would be a doorman or a doorkeeper, for the literal meaning is “Him who stands at the door”. Assuming a more active role than this passive description conveys, they are notorious here in Berlin. Starting by knowing how to address them could be a first, small, step towards getting into a club.

AUF EX

“Auf ex!” If your friends demand you do to so, perhaps it’s best you prepare for what will happen next. The literal translation? Empty your glass in one sip.

DÄMMERUNG

It’s that moment between day and night, or night and day – the beginning and end of a day all melted into one word. Between dusk and dawn, it can be a truly magical moment in Berlin (according to the season), and you’ll most likely find yourself more often than not at Dämmerung wondering how it is possible that the night is already over!

NACHTSCHWÄRMER

Being a night crawler. Everyone has one of those friends in Berlin that only emerge out of their den once the sun has set. Or maybe, you’ve become one of these yourself. Another interesting translation from German is night owl; you know that they are hiding somewhere during the day, but you’ll only see them at night.

KATER

Kater would be a ‘tomcat’, a male cat. But being one of those wonderful German words that have a certain meaning but actually mean something else, Kater is more commonly used to explain the state of being of the day following a night to remember (or not). You know it? You know it…

Photo:  © Christoffer Boman CC BY SA 2.0

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Want to refine your German? Take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.

From Guten Tag to Moin Moin: all the different greetings in German

If you thought that you could salute everyone in Germany with a universal “Guten Tag”, think again…

Germany is wonderful also due to its regionalisms and we already talked about interesting regional differences here. Greetings are important in every language, they allow us to approach native speakers and (at least try) to embark in a conversation with them. Given however all the peculiar variations of the German language, even salutations differ according to the place and context you’ll find yourself in, so it’s best to get prepared and be aware of these before finding yourself without words to reply!

In standard German to say “Good day” we will rely on “Guten Tag”, commonly used in particular in the Thüringen region, or we will say “Guten Morgen” to say “Good morning!”. These, amongst with the general “Hallo”, are the most widespread expressions throughout all of the German-speaking territories. Yet Germans from different cities and regions not always refer to these to salute you; here is a brief list of different greetings used in German regions and German speaking territories.

Grüß Gott

This expression is used mainly in the Baden Württemberg region, other than in Austria. Originally, the full expression was “grüß[e] dich Gott”, “may God bless you”. Today “grüß Gott” is used mainly in formal contexts, and not being tied to any particular moment of the day, you can say it in the morning, afternoon and night. If you find yourself in an informal context it would be more adequate to say “Grüß dich”. In Bavaria it would become “Grias Di”.

Servus

“Hallo”? No, if you find yourself in Bayern, strictly in an informal context, you would say “Servus”. This is originally an Austrian expression and derives from the latin servus. Variations include “Servas” or “Seas”. Literally, it would mean something like “I am your slave” or “I’m at your service”. It might seem weird to say hello to your friends and family by proclaiming that you are a “slave” for them (unless you’re really into Britney), but even salutations from other languages share a similar original meaning. The Italian “Ciao” in fact comes from an ancient regional greeting that had a similar meaning (“s’ciavo”,  slave) and it has been Germanized into “Tschau”. In Berlin in particular it is very common for a native speaker to say “Tschau!” instead of “Tschuss!”

Juten Tach

This variation to “Guten Tag” is commonly used in Berlin in informal contexts. “Tach” is however used also in Nordrhein – Westfalen, and “Gunn Tach” is its correspondent in Rheinland – Pfalz and in Saarland. In Hessen, we could also hear “Guude”. In Sachsen, “Tagchen”, “Gudden Tach” or “Gun Dach”. Essentially, the real difference amongst these greetings resides in a different pronunciation, which can be grasped only once taken a test in history of the German language and phonetic differences between high and low German.
Lastly, Salü e Grüezi, are the salutations used in Switzerland.

Moin Moin

It is an expression common to the Niedersachsen, used in Hamburg and in other areas of north of Germany. The term “moin” derives from “moien”, which means “good”. The word is present also in Luxembourg, where they would say “Moïen” to salute you. The full expression should be “Moien Dag”: “Moin” and “Moin moin” are merely abbreviations. It is a very colloquial expression that may be used at any moment of the day, but surely not with strangers.

Photo: © Comfreak CC 0


If you are starting to get intrigued by the German language, take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.

 

Why should I learn German? 15 typical situations in Germany that will make you understand why

Several foreigners arrive in Germany without speaking a word of the language. To those thinking that they can live happily without any knowledge of German, you’ll soon think twice.

We put together a list of 15 situations  that exemplify why you need, and should want, to learn German when in Germany.

1. At the pharmacy

To avoid having to open your mouth and “aaaah” at the saleswoman/man’s face to explain that you desperately need a spray for your throat. The pharmacist will be grateful.

2. To register in Germany

For all of those that wish that their Schufa (the document that states that you have no debts) stays immaculate and without shame.

3. At the bar

Because ordering a cappuccino or a latte, with the exact amount of milk or sugar, in perfect German is priceless.

4. Amongst friends

You’re looking for a new job. Your friends are concerned for you, they can feel that you’re one step away from packing your bags and heading back home…till when you’ll find yourself making orders for a table of 20 hungry and demanding people. The glory is tangible.

5. The meanders of German bureaucracy

Knowing the language of who will accept your request for the Hartz IV is surely something.

6. At the counter

When you’ll meet that particular cashier on a personal fight against mankind, you’ll know it. For who already has, how many times have you wished to be able to face her/him and respond adequately?

7. With your landlord

It is indispensable to make him understand that with you, the shark games won’t work. You are no amateur and it is important to put things straight immediately. In German.

8. With the Brazilian wax-lady

It might be kind of easy in Spanish, but in Portuguese it’s a different matter. To be able to speak German as a glowing wax lady from Belo Horizonte is covering your bikini area with incandescent honey will definetly come in handy.

9. With your colleagues

In particular during the first days of your new job when you’ll all be heading to the Kneipe for a cold beer, you surely don’t want to find yourself without words whilst everybody else is happily chirping their order.

10. During a job interview

Not every company demands you to know German, in particular the young-hip start ups. Considering the salary that they will offer you, one would expect them to be very flexible. However, understanding what you’re signing up for, including but not only those tiny German ‘oh that doesn’t mean anything’ asterisks in your contract, will surely make a difference.

11. To surprise co-national tourists

Ever overheard an unpleasant comment on what you’re wearing or on your new hairstyle by part of a co-national tourist? That’s where the fun starts: express your disappointment in German, look at them severely, and conclude with a nice “I love my co-nationals!”.

12. To conclude important transactions

Your girlfriend can’t live with the hat she just saw at that stand in Alexanderplatz, yet the vendor won’t negotiate? Try in German. You’re not a tourist after all, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll walk away with a smile and a bargained hat.

13. To conquer that German boy or girl

You don’t necessarily have to be fluent. But everybody knows that there is nothing cuter than having a foreigner trying to get your attention with some, more or less correct, expressions in your own language.

14. To understand Berlin’s exotic menus

In Berlin to step out of the house and look for a restaurant or Imbiss that inspires you is like traveling the world in 80 steps. Yet, no matter how exciting this may be to all food lovers, be sure that when you’ll find yourself in front of that 101-dish menu written in a different language (whether it be Siam, Japanese or Lebanese-Arabic) you’ll be quite concerned. The explanation in German of the dishes however helps (and is particularly useful to avoid unpleasant surprises, such as finding out that your dish is covered in coriander).

15. To really integrate

To stop obsessing over those two Germans chatting in the ubahn, thinking that they are talking about you after a glance and a smile. Beyond the irony, to understand / kind-of-speak German in Germany (as much as for any other language in any different place) allows us to be aware, and not feel lost, in our surroundings. Is there really anything more important?

5 tiny German words that once learned will make you feel integrated

By now we all know it, whether through our German class or in our everyday encounter with native speakers, German is a tricky language to master. One of the reasons is surely its very, very extensive vocabulary. Yet not all of the words are as long as a sentence, some are very small and although seemingly insignificant at first they are actually the indicator of your proficiency in German. We are talking about those small words that once heard will make you long to learn and use in a conversation, and that will make you feel very satisfied when you’ll say them at the right moment.

  1. Doch

It is a conjugation that has a similar meaning to “aber” (but, yet) and can be used as a reinforcer to many sentences. As a single word ,however, it indicates a positive answer to a negative question. i.e. “Didn’t you go the movies yesterday?” … “Doch!”

  1. Genau

One of the first German words we usually learn and it means “exact, exactly”. Germans commonly use it to show that they are attentive to what their interlocutor in saying. Being one of the easiest and simple words, it is very common for people approaching the language that they’ll hear themselves use it and abuse it in any given context.

  1. Achso

This is an exclamation that Germans used to affirm (to great surpise) that they have finally understood what wasn’t evident before. In English the equivalent would be something like “Ooooh! Now i get it!”. i.e. “Isn’t Tim the collegeau you fought with? Achso!”. When you’ll start, it will be very hard to quit.

  1. Krass

It is an adjective that means “extreme” in the colloquial jargon of the Deutsch youth. It sort of took the place of the former cool and geil (strong) to convey something, ha!, a bit more extreme. Krass may be a night at the Berghein as much as a visit to a concentration camp. Learning how to use it is indispensable to demonstrate one’s linguistic proficiency when facing a native speaker. The risk? Everything that happened to you “Es war richtig krass!” (was really extreme!).

  1. Spontan

Germans are notorious for the pleasure they take out of planning. At times, though, they also enjoy being spontaneous, or, spontan. “Do you know what you’ll be doing this weekend?” … “I don’t know, I’ll be spontan!”

 

Cover photo: “Voll Krass” © Oliver Ponsold – CC BY SA 2.0

5 reasons why learning German is really difficult, and 5 reasons why it’s not

Learning German can daunting, fun and frustrating all at once. It is a test of patience and will, but it many cases it is not as difficult as it seems.

For this reason we have put together a balanced list of 5 reasons by which learning German can be really hard, and 5 reasons by which it isn’t that much.

Five reasons why learning German is hard…

1. Because you can say the same thing in about 500 different ways

German has a very rich lexicon. This is partly due to its incredible ability to create new terms through Wortbildung, literally, the building of words. As a sort of creative exercise, different words and nouns can be joined with one or more suffixes. Furthermore the French cultural domination of the 18th century spoiled the German language and influenced the expression of certain concepts from the time. When then Romanticism and its underlying nationalist ideology spread throughout Europe in the 19th century, certain linguists quite literally invented 100% German words to convey those same expressions (some examples include: division= Aufteilung, definition= Bestimmung…).
The result? Several things in German can be said with two completely different words that actually have the same meaning. The choice of the word will then depend on the context and stylistic criteria. Unfortunately, this richness in choice applies also to whole sentences and expressions.
Thus even if you have been studying German for 10 years and know of 5 different ways to ask “how are you?”, be sure that a native speaker will come to you one day and employ that 6th way that you couldn’t even begin to imagine it existed.

2. Because the spoken language is terribly different from the written one

Yes, this is probably the most interesting, not to say terribly frustrating, aspect of German: no matter how well you know ALL the possible grammatical rules, the gender of thousand of nouns, the sentence structure etc… most likely the you won’t be able to understand one thing from your first conversations with a German, in particular in informal situations. The spoken language has in fact a name for it’s own, the so called Umgangssprache (vehicular language). Its lexicon has even been assembled in dictionaries, and holds the peculiarity of being transversal to dialects.

What characterizes the spoken language is that array of small words that have absolutely no meaning on their own and that Germans use to give a tone to the sentence (a bit like hand gestures for Italians) such as mal, schon, halt, doch… The use of these words will immediately separate a native speakers from who, regardless of how fluent they may be, learned German as a second language. There is then the tendency to ask „Wo kommst du her?“ and „Wo gehst du hin?“ as opposed to the common „Woher kommst du?“ and „Wohin gehst du?“. To our delight, Germans also like to liven up the language with particular expressions and to the universally known “Wie geht’s?” they will probably prefer a „Wie läuft’s?“ or a „Wie ist es?“…

3. Because there are three genders for nouns and with the exception of a few rules, the choice is absolutely random

This is possibly the greatest shock when starting to learn German: to find out that not only there are three different genders (masculine, feminine and neutral), and only few, vague rules (words that end in -ung are all feminine, those ending in -er are usually masculine), but most importantly, that the gender is not always dependent on the word structure, but on some completely random and unexplainable criteria. More than trying to find a logical reason behind the fact that a girl, for instance, is neutral (das Mädchen), the advice is to just accept it and move on. The same applies for plural.
The result is that unlike other languages, where it is pretty much enough to learn a word and move on, in German you’ll have to simultaneously learn it’s gender and it’s plural form. A mental violence, basically.

4. Because certain sounds are really hard to pronounce

Some have made it. This story takes the contours of a legend because certain sounds in German are really, really hard to pronounce. Some have a difficult time with the ch (not to be confused with the sch!) of which there are actually two different versions: the one found after vowels as a, o, u (Dach, Buch, Loch, in phonetic x) and the one found after the interior vowels i, e, ä, ü, ö (ich, Brecht, lächeln, Löcher, Bücher in phonetic ç). If you never noticed don’t worry, it’s normal, Germans themselves probably don’t even realize. One other fascinating sound is the guttural r, the one that departs from that unknown angle of the throat and that completely changes the sound of words like Brot.

5. Because we can’t accept that some verbs can be separated and that a piece of that verb has to be placed at the end of a sentence

Yes, when looking on the dictionary you’ll find a “full” word with a certain meaning, such as ausgehen = to go out, but in everyday sentences that same word will be split in two and the suffix will go at the end. Why? Who knows. Episodes in which you’ll find yourself translating a sentence and happily think to have understood what verb it is, just to find out that you actually missed a “piece” of it, will be very recurrent. And your brain will trip every time you’ll try to converse and have to think of that small element.

Photo: “Schnecken Schlecken” © Andreas: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124330160/ – CC BY SA 2.0

…and 5 reasons for which it isn’t that hard after all

1.It’s a very logical language

It’s true, German has several grammatical rules, but few exceptions. Once you learn the rule you will unlikely have unpleasant surprises.

2. Because there are few pronunciation rules

Except for the difficulty of the sounds aforementioned, one can’t say that German has tough pronunciation rules. Unlike English, for instance, where every word is pronounced in its own way or French, where to rules are so severe and dictations are done even in the most progressed course levels. In German the only sounds that change are certain diphthongs (such eu= oi and ei=ai) and the v which is read as f. For the rest, pretty much all the words are pronounced as they are written. And this is surely something worth mentioning…

3. Because nouns are recognized due to the capital letter

Even if you never studied this language, surely you may have noticed in for instance instruction manuals that several words in German are written with a capital letter. Those are nouns: common or abstract these may be, in German they always have a capital letter. This way of doing resides to the times of Luther and it has been contested for long yet never abandoned: Germans are too convinced of the enhanced readability of a text.

4. Because German has rules to which one can abide to, whereas in English the grammar is more ‘flexible’, so to say

Although English is one of the most learned and used languages globally, the English grammar remains a mystery to much of the native and foreign speakers alike. To this day English has no academy  (unlike French’s Académie française or the Spanish’s Real Academia Española), and debates on verb tenses are very much alive. With German it’s easier, you have the rules and you ought to respect them. They might not always ‘make sense’, but at a certain point the the inner struggle fades.

5. Because you don’t have the gerund and the duration form

In English the dilemma on whether to utilize the gerund or not (i.e. “What do you do”? vs “What are you doing?”) is unresolved. The absence of such in German simplifies our life, not to mention that the (in)famous duration form is nonexistent. So, if you’ve been eating for the past hour you will simply say “Ich esse seit einer Stunde“. Simple and concise.

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If you are starting to get intrigued by the German language, take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.

13 thoughts that pass your mind when you listen to German and it’s not your first language

 

Anna Dushime from BuzzFeed Germany wrote a very interesting and funny article about the thoughts that pass your mind when you live in Germany and German is not your first language.

1.In a sentence it is hard to grasp where and when words begin and end

Example: Grund­stücks­ver­kehrs­ge­neh­mi­gungs­zu­stän­dig­keits­über­tra­gungs­ver­ord­nung

 

Lifetime / Via giphy.com

2. Words that, by the way, often appear to have no vowels

rebloggy.com / Via giphy.com

3. Commas can be used concurring to fairly arbitrary rules

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4. Genug (Almost) und Genau (Exactly) sound quite similar, but have a very different meaning

ABC / Via reactiongifs.com

5. Every imperative sentence sounds like a soldier’s order 

6. Entschuldigung is a word that sounds quite aggressive when trying to convey that you are sorry

palmania.de

7. If I have to say that “the pen is on the table”, why should I use two different verbs, liegen and stehen, concurring to whether the object has been placed horizontally or vertically?

Fox / Via giphy.com

8. Why are certain words spelled in a way and pronounced in a completely different way? I.e. why is geröntgt pronounced geröncht?

Walt Disney Pictures / Via reactiongifs.com

9. Why are definite articles so complicated?

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10. And why do Germans insist on being ‘so original’ with certain words?

Twitter: @(twitter.com/ExoZizou)

11. Although it is one of the languages with most words in the dictionary, to express certain concepts the choice is quite limited…

12. Although you might have live in Germany for several years, I love you (Ich liebe dic) will never have a very loving sound

via in1.ccio.co

13. At least, to express certain desires, German can be very concise and precise

Google via Translate Google

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If you are starting to get intrigued by the German language, take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.

6 German expressions on the weather that will make you smile (and understand more about the German people)

Dog weather or monkey heat?German will always make us chuckle with its original association of ideas.

For all those metereopathics out there, here are six of the most interesting German sayings (already cited by The Local) on the weather.

1. Das Hundewetter

Recalling the English expression “it’s raining cats and dogs”, Hundewetter is the perfect word to describe that terribly rainy day each of us experience at least once in Germany. Even the most ferocious of dogs won’t stand a chance. It is such a common expression that the German version of “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” was entitled “Winnie Puuh und das Hundewetter”.

2. Das Kaiserwetter

This expression takes us back to “the time of the Kaiser”, more specifically to Emperor Francesco Giuseppe of Austria’s birthday on the 18th August. Today the term is employed to describe that radiant, flooded with sunshine and carefree, without-a-cloud-in-the-sky day. Literally, an emperor’s day.

 

3. Die Affenhitze

“Mokey heat” reflects that kind of heat that will suffocate you and drive you to exasperation and it is usually employed in the sentence «Es herrscht eine Affenhitze». Apparently the origins of this word reside in the 19th century, when the monkey’s cage in Berlin’s Zoo was notoriously the most sultry place.

4. Etwas Sonne tanken

Literally, “to soak up some sun”. This expression conveys the need to regenerate, for instance by lying out in the sun and enjoying its warmth on our faces. The verb tanken, to refuel, associated to the sun, means to absorb and store up as much heat and light as possible (especially when stocking up for winter time in Germany).

5. Du siehst aus wie ein begossener Pudel!

Have you ever been called a wet poodle? Be sure that you will if you get caught in one of Germany’s notorious rainstorms. Although the etymological basis of poodle and puddle binds the two terms, along with the fact that poodles are notorious for being fans of these, the association of these words makes the saying «You look like a wet poodle» on of the most creative German expressions.

 

6. Ein Gesicht wie sieben Tage Regenwetter

If today is not your lucky day, you might as well have “a face like seven days of rainy weather”.

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If you are starting to get intrigued by the German language, take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes.

 

Cover photo: © Bjoern Schwarz Indi Samarajiva, ,Selda EiglerVinoth Chandar  CC BY SA 2.0

The essential guide to your first German conversation: 10 sentences to present yourself

When entering a German course, as much as in everyday life in Germany, the first questions you will find yourself to answer are always the ones about yourself.

To avoid finding yourself without words, or struggling to hold the first conversation with native speakers, we have put together ten useful sentences to help you present yourself both in formal and informal contexts:

1. Do you speak German/English?

Sprichst du Deutsch/ Englisch? (informal)
Sprechen Sie Deutsch/ Englisch? (formal)
You can also use the verb können to ask informally “Kannst du Deutsch/ Englisch (sprechen)?”

Answer: I am very sorry, I don’t speak German / Just a bit

Es tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch / ich kann kein Deutsch sprechen.
Nur ein bißchen.

2. What is your name?

Wie heißt du? (informal)
Wie heißen Sie? (formal)
Was ist dein/Ihr Name? (informal/formal)
N.B. you can also ask for the Vorname to indicate the first name, or Nachname if you are interested in knowing the surname.

Answer: My name is…

Ich heiße… Mein Name ist…

3. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

Es freut mich dich / Sie kennenzulernen (informal / formal)
Schön/ Nett, Sie Kennenzulernen!
Or, more simple expressions include:
Sehr angenehm; Sehr erfreut; Freut mich.

4. Where do you come from?

Woher kommst du / kommen Sie? (informal/ formal)

Answer: I come from… I am… (nationality)

Ich komme aus… Ich bin… (eg. italiener)
Aus welcher Stadt kommst du / kommen Sie? (informal / formal)

5. Where do you live?

Wo wohnst du / wohnen Sie? (informal / formal)

Answer: I live in Berlin

Ich wohne in Berlin.

6. How long have you been in Germany for?

Wie lange bist du/sind Sie schon in Deutschland? (informal/ formal)

Answer: For two years

Seit zwei Jahren.

7. How old are you?

Wie alt bist du / sind Sie? (informal / formal)

Answer: I am 26 years old

Ich bin 26 Jahre alt.

8. What is your profession?

Was bist du/ sind Sie von Beruf? (informal / formal)
Was machst du/machen Sie beruflich? (informal / formal)
Was ist dein/Ihr Beruf? (informal / formal)

Answer: I am a… I do…

Ich bin… Ich mache…

9. Do you enjoy Berlin?

Wie gefällt dir/Ihnen Berlin? (informal / formal)

Answer: I really enjoy it! / I don’t like it.

Berlin gefällt mir sehr. / Es gefällt mir nicht.

10. I have to go now. See you soon!

Ich muss gehen. Wir sehen uns bald!
Bis dann / gleich!
or, as a more formal alternative, Auf Wiedersehen!

 

Photo:How to Earn Customer Loyalty By Focusing on Customer Experience © Joe The Goat Farmer CC BY SA 2.0

9 German words they’ll (almost) never teach you in school

German is not only the language found on dictionaries and in school. Here is a list of nine words used in everyday life that you won’t find in books.

After years of German language courses, you might think that you are ready for the big step: to converse with mother tongue speakers. Yet, when speaking German there might be the high possibility of being disappointed in one own’s preparation when tackling a conversation. In schools and in language courses, in fact, not always will one learn the most recurrent colloquial expressions. Here are some that will make your conversations more realistic and close to German colloquial jargon:

1.Na?

After the first attempts of approaching the German people one will swiftly realize that often even courteous expressions differ from what was studied on books. Even a “How are you?” might sound different from the common “Wie geht’s dir?”. “Na?” might be easily translated to “Well?”. It is commonly used to ask clarification and/or information to someone with whom you are in confidence with.

2. Naja

“Na?” however must not be confused with “Naja”, which instead expresses doubt and puzzlement. It might be used to answer the question “How are you?”, with a “Fine” that actually conveys other feelings.

3. Quatsch

It is a quite recurrent word and it might sound as “Nonsense!”. It is found also in the expression “Das ist totaler Quatsch!” to affirm that what said has absolutely no sense.

4. Mach’s gut!

At the end of a night out with friends the expression “Mach’s gut!” might be used to say goodbye. Instead of the more common “Tschüß”, “Mach’s gut!” conveys a caring “Take care of yourself”.

5. Quasi, sozusagen, halt

“How”, “so to say”, “like” are expressions used and abused in almost every language. They are found also in German, in particular in young people’s jargon. Integrating these expressions will make our conversation more colloquial and close to everyday language.

6. Krass

“Krass” is a term that fits well almost everywhere, and it is used as an exclamation of reaction to a strong emotion, whether positive or negative. It might thus mean “Incredible!” “Damn!” and generally convey surprise in front of something unexpected.

7. Geil

Once learned the meaning of this word, a day won’t pass without hearing it. It is used to indicate that something is really nice, incredible, super, actually supergeil, as Friedrich Liechtenstein sings in a famous Edeka ad. Yet this term actually has a different meaning in origin, being an adjective that signifies that something is “Lascivious” (and may be used in a vulgar manner as well). Thus, it would be strongly advised to avoid using this term in formal contexts.

8. Jein

When you are not capable of giving a direct answer and wish you could reply with a “yes/no/maybe” you can reply with the german “Jein”, which conveys precisely this idea.

9. Auf jeden Fall

Literally means “in any way” but may be used to say “surely” and feel more integrated with the natives that use this expression with great frequency.

 

Cover photo: © Jugendliche im Gespräch – Bankenverband – Bundesverband deutscher Banken – CC BY SA 2.0