German Classes

Preparation for A1, A2 German Exams

Asking Questions Politely in German

When you’re in a German-speaking country, you’re bound to find yourself in a number of situations where you need to ask a lot of questions as you find your way around — for example, where the nearest bank is or how long the train will be delayed — or you may simply need to ask someone to speak more slowly. You many find the following vocabulary useful in various situations. These expressions can help you get the attention of someone, excuse yourself, or ask someone to repeat himself:
  • Entschuldigung! (I’m sorry./Excuse me.)

  • Entschuldigen Sie, bitte! (Excuse me, please./I beg your pardon.)

  • Entschuldigung? (Pardon?)

  • Verzeihung bitte. (Excuse me./Pardon me.)

  • Verzeihung! (Sorry!)

  • Wie bitte? (Pardon?/Sorry?/I beg your pardon?) You use this phrase when you don’t understand what someone has said.

After you get the person’s attention, you may need to follow up with a request for help. The following are some common requests for getting help and asking someone to repeat himself or to speak more slowly:
  • Könnten Sie mir bitte helfen? (Could you help me, please?)

  • Könnten Sie das bitte wiederholen? (Could you repeat that, please?)

  • Könnten Sie bitte langsamer sprechen? (Could you please speak more slowly?)

In a restaurant, you can get service with the following expressions. Just remember to start with Entschuldigen Sie, bitte! (Excuse me, please!)
  • Was würden Sie zum Essen empfehlen? (What would you recommend to eat?)

  • Bringen Sie mir/uns bitte die Speisekarte/die Rechnung. (Please bring me/us the menu/check.)

  • Könnten Sie bitte einen Löffel/eine Serviette bringen? (Could you bring a spoon/a napkin, please?)

  • Ich hätte gern . . . (I’d like . . .) When ordering food or drink, add the item from the menu to the end of this phrase.

When you’re shopping in a department store or other large store, the following may help you navigate it more easily:
  • Wo ist die Schmuckabteilung/Schuhabteilung? (Where is the jewelry/shoe department?)

  • Wo finde ich die Rolltreppe/die Toiletten? (Where do I find the escalator/restrooms?)

  • Haben Sie Lederwaren/Regenschirme? (Do you carry leather goods/umbrellas?)

  • Wie viel kostet das Hemd/die Tasche? (How much does the shirt/bag cost?)

  • Könnten Sie das bitte als Geschenk einpacken? (Could you wrap that as a present, please?)

When you’re walking around town and need directions on the street, the following questions can help you find your way:
  • Wo ist das Hotel Vierjahreszeiten/Hotel Continental? (Where is the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten/Hotel Continental?)

  • Gibt es eine Bank/eine Bushhaltestelle in der Nähe? (Is there a bank/bus stop near here?)

  • Könnten Sie mir bitte sagen, wo die Post/der Park ist? (Could you tell me where the post office/park is, please?)

These questions come in handy when you’re taking public transportation:
  • Wo kann ich eine Fahrkarte kaufen? (Where can I buy a ticket?)

  • Wie viele Haltestellen sind es zum Bahnhof/Kunstmuseum? (How many stops is it to the train station/art museum?)

  • Ist das der Bus/die U-Bahn zum Haydnplatz/Steyerwald? (Is this the bus/subway to Haydnplatz/Steyerwald?)

  • Wie oft fährt die Straßenbahn nach Charlottenburg/Obermenzing?(How often does the streetcar go to Charlottenburg/Obermenzing?)

  • Ich möchte zum Hauptbahnhof. In welche Richtung muss ich fahren?(I’d like to go to the main train station. In which direction do I need to go?)

  • Von welchem Gleis fährt der Zug nach Köln/Paris ab? (Which track does the train to Cologne/Paris leave from?)


    German has three words — der, die and das — for the definite article the. To make matters more confusing for someone learning German, these three definite articles change spelling according to the case of the noun that they appear with in a sentence. The same is true for the indefinite articles. Just as English has two indefinite articles — a and an — that you use with singular nouns, German also has two indefinite articles (in the nominative case): ein for masculine- and neuter-gender words and eine for feminine-gender words. Another similarity with English is that the German indefinite article ein/einedoesn’t have a plural form. Depending on how you’re describing something plural, you may or may not need to use the plural definite article. Consider the following generalized statement, which requires no article: In Zermatt sind Autos verboten. (Cars are forbidden in Zermatt [Switzerland].) The following table shows you the definite articles and the corresponding indefinite articles (nominative case):
    Gender/Number Definite (the) Indefinite (a/an)
    Masculine der ein
    Feminine die eine
    Neuter das ein
    Plural die (no plural form)
    In German language, there are three definite articles for nouns in singular: der for masculine nouns, die for feminine nouns and das neutral nouns. German native speakers know mostly intuitively what the article of each noun is. However, non-native speakers need to memorize the articles. There are several rules and guidelines determining the articles of some categories of nouns. But beware exceptions.
  • Rules for Article ‘Der’
    The following nouns have the article der:
    • Nouns for masculine persons and functions/professions: Vater, Pilot, Arzt;
    • Names of seasons: Frühling, Sommer, Herbst, Winter;
    • Names of months: Januar, Juli, Dezember;
    • Names of days of the week: Montag, Dienstag, Sonntag;
    • Names of compass directions: Nordwest(en), Süd(en);
    • Names of precipitations: Regen, Schnee, Hagel;
    • Names of car brands: Audi, BMW, Mercedes;
    • Names of trains: IC;
    • Nouns derived from verbs without suffix: Gang, Fang;
    The following categories of nouns have mainly the article der:
    • Names of alcoholic beverages: Cognac, Wein, Whiskey; exceptions: das Bier;
    • Names of rivers outside Europe: Amazonas, Mississippi;
    • Names of mountains: Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro; exception: die Zugspitze;
    Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article der:
    • –er (nouns derived from verbs): Fahrer, Lehrer;
    • –ismus: Kapitalismus, Journalismus;
    Most of nouns with the following suffixes have the article der:
    • –ant: Demonstrant, Elefant; exceptions: das Croissant, das Restaurant;
    • –ling: Lehrling, Schützling; exceptions: das Dribbling, das Bowling;
    • –ner: Rentner, Schaffner, Zöllner; exceptions: das Banner, die Wiener (Wurst);
    • –or: Motor, Traktor; exceptions: das Gegentor, das Chlor;

    Beware: this is applicable only to nouns in singular. All nouns in plural have the article die.

    Beware: diminutives have always the article das: der Kopfdas Köpfchen.

    Rules for Article ‘Die’

    The following nouns have the article die:
    • Nouns for feminine persons and functions/professions: Mutter, Friseuse, Ärztin;
    • Names of motorcycle brands: Harley Davidson, BMW (only motorcycle), Yamaha;
    • Names of planes and ships: Boeing 747, Titanic;
    • Cardinal numbers: Eins, Drei;
    The following categories of nouns have mainly the article die:
    • Names of plants and trees: Birke, Chrysantheme, Rose; exceptions: der Ahorn, das Veilchen;
    Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article die:
    • –falt: Vielfalt;
    • –heit: Freiheit, Sicherheit;
    • –keit: Möglichkeit, Schnelligkeit;
    • –schaft: Freundschaft, Mannschaft;
    • –t (nouns derived from verbs): Fahrt, Tat;
    • –ung: Leitung, Zeitung;
    Foreign nouns with the suffixes below have the article die:
    • –ade: Hitparade, Marmelade;
    • –age: Garage, Passage;
    • –anz: Eleganz, Dominanz;
    • –enz: Existenz, Tendenz;
    • –ik: Kritik, Musik;
    • –ion: Diskussion, Koalition;
    • –tät: Identität, Qualität;
    • –ur: Agentur, Reparatur;
    Most of nouns with the following suffixes have the article die:
    • –e: Grenze, Lampe; exceptions: der Junge, der Friede;
    • –ei: Abtei, Metzgerei; exceptions: das Ei, der Papagei;
    • –ie: Diplomatie, Psychologie; exceptions: der Junkie, der Hippie;
    • –in: Ärztin, Studentin; exceptions: das Benzin, der Harlekin;

    Beware: diminutives have always the article das: die Handdas Händchen.

  • Rules for Article ‘Das’
    The following nouns have the article das:
    • Diminutives (–chen, –lein): Kaninchen, Fräulein;
    • Nouns derived from infinitives: Essen, Schreiben;
    • Nouns derived from adjectives: Gute, Böse;
    • Names of colors: Rot, Gelb, Blau;
    The following categories of nouns have mainly the article das:
    • Almost all of the 112 known chemical elements: Aluminium, Kupfer, Uran; 6 exceptions: der Kohlenstoff, der Sauerstoff, der Stickstoff, der Wasserstoff, der Phosphor, der Schwefel;
    • Names of metals: Blei, Messing, Zinn; exceptions: die Bronze, der Stahl;
    • Fractions: Drittel (⅓), Viertel (¼); exception: die Hälfte (½);
    Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article das:
    • –ial: Material, Potenzial;
    Most of nouns with the following suffixes have the article das:
    • –ment: Instrument, Parlament; exceptions: der Konsument, der Zement;
    • –nis: Ergebnis, Tennis; exceptions: die Fahrerlaubnis, die Wildnis;
    • –o: Auto, Konto; exceptions: die Avocado, der Euro;
    • –tum: Quantum, Ultimatum; exceptions: der Reichtum, der Irrtum;
    • –um (nouns of Latin origin): Publikum, Museum, Stadium;

    Beware: this is applicable only to nouns in singular. All nouns in plural have the article die.

German Definite Articles by Gender (Nominative Case)
German Definite Article (English meaning) Gender (Abbreviation Seen in Dictionaries) German Example (English meaning)
der (the) masculine (m) der Löffel (the spoon)
die (the) feminine (f) die Gabel (the fork)
das (the) neuter (n or nt) das Messer (the knife)
die (the) plural (pl) die Menschen (the people)
Some categories of nouns are consistently masculine, feminine, or neuter. For instance, noun gender usually follows the gender of people: der Onkel (the uncle) and die Schwester (the sister). In many other cases, the noun categories have to do with the ending of the noun. The following two tables provide some fairly reliable categories of nouns and their genders.
Common Genders by Noun Ending (Or Beginning)
Usually Masculine (der) Usually Feminine (die) Usually Neuter (das)
-er (especially when referring to male people/jobs) -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur (if foreign/borrowed from another language) -chen
-ich -e -ium
-ismus -ei -lein
-ist -heit -ment (if foreign/borrowed from another language)
-ner -ie -o
  -ik -tum or -um
  -in (when referring to female people/occupations) Ge-
Common Genders by Noun Subject
Usually Masculine (der) Usually Feminine (die) Usually Neuter (das)
Days, months, and seasons: der Freitag(Friday) Many flowers: die Rose (the rose) Colors (adjectives) used as nouns: grün (green) das Grün (the green)
Map locations: der Süd(en) (the south) Many trees: die Buche (the beech) Geographic place names: das Europa(Europe)
Names of cars and trains: der Audi (the Audi) and der ICE(the Intercity Express) Names of aircraft and ships: die Boeing 767 (the Boeing 767), die Titanic (the Titanic) Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds): schwimmen(to swim) das Schwimmen(swimming)
Nationalities and words showing citizenship: der Amerikaner (the American) Cardinal numbers:eine Drei (a three) Young people and animals: das Baby (the baby)
Occupations: der Arzt(the doctor)   Almost all the chemical elements and most metals: das Aluminium(aluminum) and das Blei(lead)
Names of most mountains and lakes:der Großglockner(the highest mountain in Austria)    
Most rivers outside of Europe: der Amazonas (the Amazon)
Conjugation of German Irregular Verbs: Regular Verbs:
1. ARBEITEN : to work
Ich: arbeite Wir: arbeiten
Du: arbeitest Ihr: arbeitet
Er: arbeitet Sie: arbeiten
2. DISKUTIEREN : to discuss
Ich: diskutiere Wir: diskutieren
Du: diskutierst Ihr: diskutiert
Er: diskutiert Sie: diskutieren
3. FLIEGEN : to fly
Ich: fliege Wir: fliegen
Du: fliegst Ihr: fliegt
Er: fliegt Sie: fliegen
4. GEHEN : to go
Ich: gehe Wir: gehen
Du: gehst Ihr: geht
Er: geht Sie: gehen
5. HEISSEN : to be called
Ich: heisse Wir: heissen
Du: heisst Ihr: heisst
Er: heisst Sie: heissen
6. HÖREN : to listen
Ich: höre Wir: hören
Du: hörst Ihr: hört
Er: hört Sie: hören
7. KOCHEN : to cook
Ich: koche Wir: kochen
Du: kochst Ihr: kocht
Er: kocht Sie: kochen
8. KOMMEN : to come
Ich: komme Wir: kommen
Du: kommst Ihr: kommt
Er: kommt Sie: kommen
9. LERNEN : to learn
Ich: lerne Wir: lernen
Du: lernst Ihr: lernt
Er: lernt Sie: lernen
10. LIEBEN : to love
Ich: liebe Wir: lieben
Du: liebst Ihr: liebt
Er: liebt Sie: lieben
11. MACHEN : to do/to make
Ich: mache Wir: machen
Du: machst Ihr: macht
Er: macht Sie: machen
12. PROBIEREN : to try
Ich: probiere Wir: probieren
Du: probierst Ihr: probiert
Er: probiert Sie: probieren
13. REISEN : to travel
Ich: reise Wir: reisen
Du: reist Ihr: reist
Er: reist Sie: reisen
14. REITEN : to ride
Ich: reite Wir: reiten
Du: reitest Ihr: reitet
Er: reitet Sie: reiten
15. SCHWIMMEN : to swim
Ich: schwimme Wir: schwimmen
Du: schwimmst Ihr: schwimmt
Er: schwimmt Sie: schwimmen
16. SPIELEN : to play
Ich: spiele Wir: spielen
Du: spielst Ihr: spielt
Er: spielt Sie: spielen
17. STUDIEREN : to study
Ich: studiere Wir: studieren
Du: studierst Ihr: studiert
Er: studiert Sie: studieren
18. SUCHEN : to search for
Ich: suche Wir: suchen
Du: suchst Ihr: sucht
Er: sucht Sie: suchen
19. TANZEN : to dance
Ich: tanze Wir: tanzen
Du: tanzt Ihr: tanzt
Er: tanzt Sie: tanzen
20. TREIBEN : to do sports
Ich: treibe Wir: treiben
Du: treibst Ihr: treibt
Er: treibt Sie: treiben
21. TRINKEN : to drink
Ich: trinke Wir: trinken
Du: trinkst Ihr: trinkt
Er: trinkt Sie: trinken
22. WOHNEN : to live
Ich: wohne Wir: wohnen
Du: wohnst Ihr: wohnt
Er: wohnt Sie: wohnen
23. ÖFFNEN : to open
Ich: öffne Wir: öffnen
Du: öffnest Ihr: öffnet
Er: öffnet Sie: öffnen
Separable Verbs: ]]>

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