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How to Speak Simple German?

Three Parts:Greeting People and Saying Goodbye, Starting a Conversation

German is spoken by millions of people, not only in Germany, but in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and many other places around the world.Becoming fluent in German takes a lot of time and practice but  you can master the most important phrases in no time at all. Whether you’re looking to travel to a German-speaking country, to impress someone, or just to explore a new language, being able to use a few expressions will come in handy. With a little study, you’ll soon be able greet people, introduce yourself, ask simple questions, and know how to ask for help if you need it.
 Greeting People and Saying Goodbye
  1. German A1 Classes,German A2 Training
    Use standard greetings. Each German-speaking country has its own particular greetings.[1] Yet no matter where you are, the following standard greetings will work.
    • “Guten Tag” (goo-tehn tahg), “Good day.” Use this as a general way of saying “hello” during daytime hours.
    • “Guten Morgen” (goo-tehn mor-gen), “Good Morning.”
    • “Guten Abend” (Goo-tehn Ah-bend), “Good evening.”
    • “Gute Nacht” (goo-teh nah-cht), “Good night” (usually said to close family only, when going to bed).
    • “Hallo” (hah-low), “hello.” This is basically used anytime, anywhere.
    • In Austria greetings such as “Servus” or “Grüß Gott” “Greet god” are common.
  2. German A1 Classes,German A2 Training
    Say your name and ask others theirs. There are two easy ways to say “My name is…” in German[2]:
    • “Ich heiße [insert Name]” (“ich hi-seh [Name],” literally “I am called…”)
    • “Mein Name ist [insert Name]” (“mine nam-eh ist [Name],” literally “my name is…”).
    • For example, say either “Ich heiße Andreas” or “Mein Name ist Andreas” to mean “My name is Andreas.”
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    Understand the formal/informal distinction when talking to people in German. In German, as in many languages, you will often need to differentiate between acquaintances and strangers (formal) and people you know well (informal) when speaking.[3] To ask someone’s name, for example[4]:
    • “Wie heißen Sie?” (vee hi-sehn zee), “What is your name?” (formal)
    • “Wie heißt du?” (vee heist du), “What is your name?” (informal)
  4. Say goodbye. As with greetings, goodbyes may vary somewhat depending on where you are or who you are speaking to.[5] Generally, however, you can’t go wrong with these:
    • “Auf Wiedersehen” or (owf vee-dair-zayn), “Good-bye!”
    • “Tschüss!” (choos), “Bye!”
    • “Ciao!” (chow), “Bye!” This Italian phrase is often used by German speakers to say goodbye.
      Image titled Speak Simple German Step 04

Starting a Conversation

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    Ask how people are doing. Not only is it polite, it also allows you to show off more of the German you are learning!
    • Use the formal phrase “Wie geht es Ihnen?” (vee gate ess eenin), when asking strangers or acquaintances, “How are you?”
    • Use the informal phrase “Wie geht es dir?” (vee gate ess deer) or simply “Wie geht’s?” (vee gates) to ask someone you know well, or a child, “How are you?”
    • Generally speaking, to be polite use the formal version with someone you don’t know, unless they begin using the informal with you. This is especially the case in settings involving areas like business, education, and government.[6]
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    Tell others how you are doing. If someone asks, you can respond to the question “Wie geht es Ihnen?” or “Wie geht’s” in a variety of ways.
    • You could simply say: “Gut” (“goot”), “good”; “Sehr gut” (“zair goot”), “very good”; or “Schlecht” (“shle-cht”), “bad.”
    • However, a more extensive response is more polite. You can say “Mir geht es…” (“mere gate es…”), followed by “gut,” “sehr gut,” or “schlecht” to mean “I am doing…” “well,” “very well” or “bad,” respectively.[7]
  3. German A1, German A2 Training
    Ask people where they’re from. A good conversation starter is to ask people about their backgrounds. Try these questions, using the formal / informal version as appropriate:
    • “Woher Kommen Sie?” (“Voh-hair co-men zee?”) / “Woher kommst du?” (“Voh-hair comst do?”) = “Where are you from?”
    • “Ich komme aus [insert place name]” (“Ich come-uh ow-s”) = “I am from [insert place name]”. For example, “Ich komme aus den USA” (Ich come-uh ow-s dane oo ess ah), “I am from the United States.”
    • “Wo wohnen Sie?” (“Voh voh-nen zee?”) / “Wo wohnst du?” (“Voh voh-nst do?”) = “Where do you live?” (in the sense of “Which country, state, or city, etc. do you reside right now?”
    • “Ich wohne in [insert place name]” (“Ich voh-nuh in”) = “I live in [insert place name].” For example, “Ich wohne in Chicago.”
Communicating Further
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    Learn a few basic phrases for interacting in public. This includes “Ja” (ya) for “yes” and “Nein” (nine) for “no” as well as:
    • “Wie bitte?” (vee bitteh), “pardon me?”
    • “Es Tut mir leid!” (ess toot mere lied), “I am sorry!”
    • “Entschuldigung!” (ehnt-shool-dig-ung), “Excuse me!”
  2. German A1, German A2 Training
    Say please and thank you. While technically speaking, saying “thank you” in German has a formal/informal distinction, a simple “Danke!” (dank-eh), or “thanks!” is absolutely fine to be used in any situation.
    • If you are curious, the full formal version is “Ich danke Ihnen” (ich dank-eh eenin), while the informal is “Ich danke dir” (ich dank-eh deer).[8]
    • The word for “please” is “Bitte!” (bittuh). The same phrase doubles as “you’re welcome!”
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    Make simple requests and questions about items. If you want to know if something is available at a store, restaurant, etc., then simply ask “Haben Sie [insert item]?” (hah-ben zee), or “Do you have [insert item]?” For example, “Haben Sie Kaffee?” (hah-ben zee cah-fay), “Do you have coffee?”
    • If you want to know how much something you see costs, then ask “Wie viel kostet das?” (vee feel cost-et dahs).
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    Ask for help or directions. If you are lost, need to find something, or otherwise need help, a few phrases will come in handy.
    • To ask for help: “Können Sie mir helfen, bitte?” (coon-en zee mere helf-en bit-teh), “Could you help me, please?”
    • To ask for a location: “Wo ist [insert place]?” (Voh ihst), “Where is [insert place]?” For example, “Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?” (Voh ihst die Toil-et-eh, bit-teh), “Where is the restroom?” or “Wo ist der Bahnhof?” (Voh ihst dare Bahn-hof), “Where is the train station?”
    • To be polite, introduce the question by saying: “Entschuldigen Sie, bitte, wo ist der Bahnhof?” (ent-shool-dig-ung zee bit-tuh, voh ihst dare bahn-hof), “Excuse me, please, where is the train station?”
    • To ask if someone speaks another language: “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” (or Spanisch/Französisch, etc.) (shpreh-chen zee english/shpanish/fran-zoo-tzish, etc.), “Do you speak English/Spanish/French?”
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    Learn to count in German. German numbers generally work much the same as English numbers. The main exception is for numbers 21 and above: you say “einunzwanzig” (ayn-uhnd-tsvahn-tsich), literally “one-and-twenty” for 21; “vierunddreißig” (fear-uhnd-dry-sich), literally “four-and-thirty” for 34; “siebenundsechzig” (zee-ben-uhnd-zech-tsich), literally “seven-and-sixty” for 67, etc.
    • 1—”eins” (ayenz)
    • 2–“zwei” (tsvai)
    • 3–“drei” (dry)
    • 4–“vier” (feer)
    • 5–“fünf” (foonf)
    • 6–“sechs” (zechs)
    • 7–“sieben” (zee-ben)
    • 8–“acht” (ahcht)
    • 9–“neun” (noyn)
    • 10–“zehn” (tsehn)
    • 11–“elf” (elf)
    • 12–“zwölf” (tsvoolf)
    • 13–“dreizehn” (dry- tsehn)
    • 14–“vierzehn” (feer- tsehn)
    • 15–“fünfzehn” (fuenf- tsehn)
    • 16–“sechzehn” (zech- tsehn)
    • 17–“sieb-zehn” (zeeb- tsehn)
    • 18–“acht-zehn” (uhcht- tsehn)
    • 19–“neun-zehn” (noyn- tsehn)
    • 20–“zwanzig” (Tsvahn-tsick or “Tsvahn-tsich”) “twenty”
    • 21—“einundzwanzig”
    • 22—“zweiundzwanzig”
    • 30—dreißig
    • 40—vierzig
    • 50—fünfzig
    • 60—sechzig
    • 70—siebzig
    • 80—achtzig
    • 90—neunzig
    • 100—hundert

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