German (Deutsch [ˈdɔʏtʃ] ( listen)) belongs to the West Germanic language group alongside English, Dutch, and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East (extinct) and North Germanic languages. German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family with significant minorities of words derived from Latin and Greek and a smaller amount from French and, most recently, English (known as Denglisch). German is written using the Latin alphabet with an additional three vowels called Umlauts (ä, ö, and ü) as well as Eszett (ß) or scharfes S (sharp s).
German is an inflected language with four cases for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), and strong and weak verbs. Despite sharing many cognates and other similarities with English it can be quite difficult for English speakers to grasp. The FSI classifies it as a Category III language, which is a more difficult rank than any other Germanic language besides Icelandic, and at a minimum requires 36 weeks or 900 hours of study to become "proficient".
German dialects are distinguished from varieties of standard German. German dialects are traditional local varieties and are traced back to the different German tribes. Many of them are not mutually intelligible, since they often differ in lexicon, phonology, and syntax. Standard German originated as a written language and developed over the course of several hundred years, in which writers tried to write in a way that was understood by the largest area.
Around the world, German has approximately 100 million native speakers, as well as about 80 million non-native speakers. German is the main language of about 90 million people (18%) in the EU. 67% of German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language, 27% in at least two languages other than their own.
The German uses the standard alphabet along with four special characters. Three of them are umlauts (two dots over the letter that frontalizes a vowel). The other is a ligature called an eszett or a sharp s. When restricted to the Latin alphabet, the umlauts can be represented with the letter without the dots and followed by ⟨e⟩ (i.e. ae for ä). The eszett can be represented with the digraph ⟨ss⟩.
There are also a few differences in the way that some letters are pronounced in German and in English.
|ch||[x] (The "ch" in Scottish "loch")|
|j||[j], as in English you.|
|r||[ʁ] or [r]; varies widely by region|
|s||[z] between vowels, [ʃ] before ⟨p⟩ or ⟨t⟩ at the beginning of a word|
- Main article: German Grammar
German contains three noun genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, which inflect for number. Nouns also inflect for one of four cases: nominative (subjects), accusative (direct objects), dative (indirect objects), and genitive (possession). Adjectives inflect based on the nouns they modify.
The word order in German is generally V2. In main clauses, the finite verb (the verb with the subject) must be in the second position:
- Ich esse einen Apfel.
- I eat an Apple.
Due to the way cases work, it is possible to move elements of the sentence around and still communicate the same sentence:
- Einen Apfel esse ich.
- An apple eat I.
Since ein Apfel is in the accusative case, we are aware that it's the direct object of this sentence, even if we were to change the word order for whatever reason; because of this, the sentence would still translate as "I eat an apple". Note that the verb, esse, is still in the second position. If we were to write "Ich einen Apfel esse", that sentence would be grammatically incorrect, since it violates V2 word order.
Non-finite verbs are moved to the end of the sentence:
- Ich werde einen Apfel essen.
- I will an Apple eat.
Many verbs have prefixes that can be separated from the stem. When separated, these prefixes move to the end of the sentences.
Apps & Programs
Books and .PDF files
|German for Reading||A highly recommended workbook for beginners. Requires 80-120 hours to complete. Grammar lessons are paired with various exercises which familiarizes you with the vocabulary necessary to read the text at the end of each chapter.|
|German English Frequency Dictionary||Covers the majority of spoken and written German used daily.|
|Basic German: A grammar and Workbook||For beginners.|
|German essential grammar|
|Hammer's German Grammar and Usage||A very thorough grammar book. Good for reference.|
|A practice Grammar of German|
|Schaum's Outline of German Grammar, 4ed|
|German Graded Readers||This is a compilation of books that sometimes you have to read as part of the curriculum in official schools. A lot of them come with the audio files.|
|Dino lernt Deutsch Series||A nice series of easy to read short stories. Each title comes with an anki deck, audio, and the text. Progressively gets harder (A1 to A2). There is another series of detective books for A2-B1 level.|
|dict.cc||should be your go-to DE<->EN dictionary (also supports pronunciation examples for most vocabularies and some other languages like DE<->PL, DE<->FR but in a less complete way)|
|leo.org||an alternative to dict.cc|
|Beolingus||Excellent German <-> English dictionary including pronunciations and example sentences (most of the time.)|
|Canoo.net||Is a good site for German dictionaries, word formation (conjugation), and sentence grammar.|
|Wiktionary||can be useful for trying to understand certain words|
- Toms Deutschseite A website which mainly teaches grammar and conjugation
- German for English Speakers A nearly-finished complete guide to the German language
- Busuu.com really good website to learn German. Has vocab, sentences structuring, conversations to listen to and teaches levels of German from A1-B2
- Collection of grammar worksheets
- german.about.com Wonderful website that covers all things German (such as traditions, etiquette, culture, etc) but in particular: grammar, pronounciation and how to use certain words.
- A Review of German Grammar by Bruce Duncan
- German Language Blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!" offers many helpful posts on various topics in German grammar and tips on how to improve more generally.
- Jabbalab - good grammar resource with very simple explanations
- Speechling - 1000s of audio recording, comprehension, and vocabulary flashcards and quizzes at all levels. Few lessons covering the conventions of the language.
- Your Daily German - someone's well flushed attempt at a language learning blog, has not been updated in sometime, but still very useful. There's an annoying limited article membership scheme, but if you're smart with blocking your cookies, you can get around it.
- learngerman.dw.com - Well organized and engaging free courses that fit into the rest of the DW Series. They also have a corresponding youtube channel that might be easier to navigate. Highly recommended.
- German.net - Useful website containing various tools and exercises. Many beginner texts and quizzes as well.
- Wikibooks German Guide - Incomplete guide with a few lessons. Has information on regional differences.
- FSI German Course - Slightly outdated, but very valuable course IF you have the discipline to see it through.
- A song for learning the alphabet.
- Coffee Break German Podcast Series - You'll have to get used to the Scottish pronunciation, but the native speakers are actually quite good. Very easy to listen to with grammar explanations and practice phrases.
- Uz-translations (a very useful website that you should definitely check out)
- Native Monks Learn German language online through skype.
- Marathon Sprechen Blog A blog on German grammar concepts. They're not posted in any certain order like Tae Kim is, but the examples and explanations are very helpful.
|Deutsch mit Armin||Has some german language learning videos like Fokus Deutsch|
|Anna the German Subtitler||Someone from /lang/ made the eng/de subtitles for these shows.|
|Learn German||Daily news, and many learning vids|
|Learn German with Antrim||Covers a variety of German topics including teaching to a child.|
|Deutsch für Euch||Covers a variety of German topics, especially the quirks of German grammar.|
|Slow German mit Annik Rubens||Podcasts in slow German with each episode's transcript available|
|Easy Languages / Easy German||Videos in "easy" German (and other langauges) with subtitles in both English and German|
|LanguageSheep||Videos with detailed explanations for German pronunciations.|
|Learn German with Ania||qt3.14 teaches you German|
|Rewboss||British guy living in Germany.|
|Get Germanized||Videos about German culture and language for English speakers.|
|Bookboxinc||Children's stories with audio and subtitles to read along.|
|Germanpod101.com||Listening practice, you can also visit their website for more.|
|DW - Deutsch lernen||About a spanish dude in Germany. There is an App as well. Good for beginners.|
|Deutschretter||New Language learning channel (uses POV and On-Screen-Teaching)|
|Gronkh||a german gaming channel|
|Nachrichtenleight||News written in easy german with audio.|
|Nachrichtenwerk||News written in easy german.|
|Nachrichten in einfacher Sprache||News written in easy german with audio.|
|Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung||A daily centre-right, liberal-conservative newspaper based in Frankfurt.|
|Süddeutsche Zeitung||A very popular centre-left daily newspaper based in Munich.|
|Die Bild||A tabloid similar to the UK's The Sun|
|Neue Zürcher Zeitung|
- Sublearning - learn languages from movie subtitles. Flash cards of movie lines in 62 languages
- (add more if you know them lol)
|Action||Der Baader Meinhof komplex|
|Adventure||Die Wilden Hühner|
|Biography||Der Untergang, Die weiße Rose, Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage|
|Comedy||Sonnenallee, Soul Kitchen, Daheim sterben d'Leut, A Coffee in Berlin, Der Schuh des Manitou, Er ist wieder da, Fack ju Göhte, Freche Mädchen, Free Rainer, Good Bye Lenin, Honig im Kopf, Keinohrhasen, Kokowääh, Lammbock, Suck My Dick, Was nicht passt wird passend gemacht|
|Crime||Die weiße Rose, Lola rennt, Tatort, Tattoo, M|
|Documentary||Shoah, Triumph des Willens|
|Drama||Michael Kohlhaas – der Rebell, Paradies Liebe, Vincent will Meer, Christiane F., Faustrecht der Freiheit, Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant|
|Family||Die Wilden Hühner, Die Wilden Kerle, Honig im Kopf|
|Fantasy||Der Himmel über Berlin|
|History||Shoah, Der Untergang, Triumph des Willens, Hitler ein Film aus Deutschland, Germany Year Zero|
|Horror||Anatomie, Nekromantik, Tattoo, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Nosferatu|
|Romance||Der Himmel über Berlin, Freche Mädchen, Gegen die Wand, Goethe!, Good Bye Lenin, Keinohrhasen, Angst essen Seele auf|
|Sci-Fi||Die Wolke, Welt am Draht, Metropolis|
|Thriller||Das Boot, Der Untergang, Das Experiment, Die Welle, Die Wolke, Das Leben der Anderen, Lola rennt, Restrisiko, Funny Games|
|War||Shoah, Stalingrad, Triumph des Willens, Unsere Mütter unsere Väter, Das Boot|
|Western||Der Schuh des Manitou|
Interesting German directors: Michael “Bully” Herbig, Leni Riefenstahl, Jörg Buttgereit, Olaf Ittenbach, Andreas Schnaas, Uwe Boll, Ulli Lommel, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Fatih Akin, Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
|Austria||ORFeins, ORF 2,ORF III, ServusTV, 3sat|
|Germany||ARD, ZDF, n-tv, SWR, WRD5, ARTE, 3sat|
|Switzerland||SRF 1, SRF Zwei, 3sat|
|Electro||We Butter The Bread With Butter, Kraftwerk, Eisbrecher|
|Experimental||Soap&Skin, Sonne Hagal|
|Folk Rock/Metal||Equilibrium, Saltatio Mortis, Faun|
|Hip-Hop/Rap/Reggae||Blumio, Die Orsons, K.I.Z., Peter Fox, Alligatoah, CRo, 257ers, Bushido, Casper, Falco, Kollegah, Marteria, Sido, Weekend, Kraftklub, Seeed, 187 Strassenbande|
|Indie||Angelika Express, Bilderbuch, Sportfreunde Stiller|
|Neofolk||Darkwood, Die Weisse Rose, Forseti, In Scherben, Nebelung, Vergissmeinnicht, Sonne Hagal|
|Neue Deutsche Härte/Rock||Megaherz, Oomph!, Rammstein, Lacrimosa, Knorkator, Unheilig, Nena, Madsen, Revolverheld, EAV|
|Punk/Punkrock||Die Ärzte, Die Toten Hosen, Beatsteaks, Nina Hagen, Marathonmann|
|Ska/Ska-punk||Die Skatoons, Hammerhai|
|Die Brüder Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm)||Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Grimms' Fairy Tales) - dual language (english/german) edition available here|
|Franz Kafka||Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Der Process (The Trial), Das Schloss (The Castle)|
|Hermann Hesse||Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend (Demian), Der Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf), Siddhartha, Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game)|
|Thomas Mann||Buddenbrooks, Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice), Der Zauerberg (The Magic Mountain), Joseph und seine Bruder (Joseph and His Brothers), Doktor Faustus|
|Johann Wolfgang von Goethe||Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), Faust, Die Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Affinities) Italienische Reise (Italian Journey)|
|Robert Musil||Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß (The Confusions of Young Törless), Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities)|
|Erich Kästner||Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives)|
|Erich Maria Remarque||Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)|
|Alfred Döblin||Berlin Alexanderplatz|
|Siegfried Lenz||Deutschstunde (The German Lesson)|
|Ernst Jünger||In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel), Auf den Marmorklippen (On the Marble Cliffs), Gläserne Bienen (The Glass Bees), Eumeswil|
|Robert Walser||Jakob von Gunten, various stories|
|Stefan Zweig||Schachnovelle (Chess Story), Ungeduld des Herzens (The Heart's Impatience - published in English as 'Beware of Pity'), Die Welt von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europäers (The World of Yesterday: Memories of a European)|
|Günter Grass||Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), Katz und Maus (Cat and Mouse)|
- A lot of current anime and manga are licensed and translated to German. Look up Carlsen-Manga, Kaze and the news section of animexx they usually have an up to date article about recent manga releases.
- South Park
- My Little Pony
- One Piece
- Death Note
- Soul Eater
- Alfred J. Kwak
- Darkwing Duck
- Almost all of the Ghibli movies
- Pipi Langstrumpf
- Nils Holgerson
- Biene Maja
If you have experience learning this language please share it, it's greatly appreciated.
- No single resource will advance you to fluency. Experiment with different apps, programs, books, audio, and other media.
- Many videogames have German language support which can be a good way to get some extra practice. Some games may even have German voice acting (e.g. Skyrim). Keep a bilingual dictionary on hand. Many online games can be played on EU/German servers so you can interact with other German players.
- Recommended Story Heavy Games with Voice Acting: Witcher Series, Dishonored Series, Assassins Creed Series (Germanic Italians lol), Alan Wake, Metro Series, Gears of War Series, Bioshock Series, New Deus Ex, The Saboteur.
- You can easily install German along with your native language on your phone. This is very useful when using language learning apps, or chatting with others on your phone in your target language.
- When reading the Graded Readers be sure to read those that are one level above yours. If you're studying A2, try reading those labeled B1. That way you'll be practicing your A2 and learning new things from B1.
- If you know what you're looking for Book Depository sells a variety of foreign language books, including books and manga in German. And it's free shipping!
- A guide to buying manga in German
German alt codes
|alt + 0223||ß||ss|
|alt + 0196||Ä||Ae|
|alt + 0228||ä||ae|
|alt + 0214||Ö||Oe|
|alt + 0246||ö||oe|
|alt + 0220||Ü||Ue|
|alt + 0252||ü||ue|
- When learning vocabulary it's important to learn the article as an important part of the word and not just the word by itself. So it's not Hund, but der Hund. Not just Halskette but die Halskette.
- Learn about the High German consonant shift not only will it help you understand a little bit about how German spelling works, but will help your acquisition of cognates. For example, an English D is a T in German, e.g. World -> Welt, Good -> Gut, Word -> Wort, Dance -> Tanz.
Tips for studying word genders:
- When writing out vocabulary or adding nouns to Anki, colour code your words! Blue for masculine nouns, pink for feminine, green for neuter.
- One technique I learned in class is visualizing a male, a female and something considered neuter (let's say ET) along with the noun I'm learning. So David Hasselhoff sits on der Tisch, Angela Merkel opens die Tür and ET drinks das Bier.
- Use this in conjunction with Anki! I use a bunch of kawaii as fuck images I pull from the internet with my cards to remember my genders. Want to remember the gender for die Sandburg? Find a picture of a little girl playing with a sandcastle and stick that in your Anki cards.
- There are also a few hints you can use to recall genders of certain words.
- If you have time, write three stories and use only nouns from one gender for each one. This way the next time you need to remember, for example, the gender of "Nachbar" all you have to do is remember in which story was the word used. Make the protagonist of the story the same gender as the other objects. For example, if you're a man, you can be the protagonist of the story with masculine nouns. Your mother can be the protagonist of the story with feminine nouns, and something that you know to be neutral (e.g. Mädchen) can be the protagonist of the story with neutral nouns. My story for the masculine gender starts like this:
I wake up and my Kopf is on the Tisch. I've fallen asleep on front of the Bildschirm of the Computer. I've fallen asleep over my Kugelschreiber, Radiergummi and Bleistift. I sit up on the Stuhl and I take a look at the Kalender. What Tag is it today? Oh shit, I'm gonna be late. I take my Rucksack from the Boden and throw my Ausweis inside. It's cold today, so I better take my Pullover, my Schal and Handschuh. I get out of the Raum. I can hear a Schrei from my Nachbar. "Mein Gott", I think. They're always fighting. Perhaps I should write them a Brief and put it in their Briefkasten. I drink my Kaffee, clean my Mund and take the Aufzug to go out.
Use these in Lingq/FLTR...read with audio, make anki decks, etc. I use the youtube generated transcription and edit it to be more useful.
|German German Grammar|
|West Afrikaans Dutch English German Old English|