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German for Beginners


Common Greetings and Courtesies

Below you'll find some of the most common German greetings (Grüße) and pleasantries (Nettigkeiten). Be aware that German, more than English, makes a clear distinction between formal (Sie) and familar (first name, du) forms of expression. Phrases marked "familiar" or "casual" should only be used in informal, first-name situations. Germans tend to be more formal and use first names only in certain situations. We'll talk more about this in

Grüße und Nettigkeiten
Deutsch Englisch
Everyday Pleasantries
Guten Tag! - Tag! Hello! - Hi!
Grüß Gott! Hello! (southern Germany & Austria)
Grüß dich! Hello! (familiar, informal)
Guten Morgen! - Morgen! Good morning! - Morning!
Guten Abend! Good evening!
Gute Nacht! Good night!
Wie geht es Ihnen? How are you?
Wie geht's? How are you? (familiar, informal)
Danke, gut. Fine, thanks.
Sehr gut. Great.
Es geht. Okay. So-so.
Nicht so gut. Not so well.
Auf Wiedersehen. Good-bye.
Tschüs! Bye! See you later. (casual)
Requests - Bitten
Was möchten Sie? What would you like?
Ich möchte... I would like...
Darf ich? May I?
Können Sie mir helfen? Can you help me?
Yes/No - Thanks - You're Welcome
Bitte! - Ja, bitte! Please! - Yes, please!
Danke! Thanks! - No thanks!
Note: "Danke!" in response to an offer usually means "No thanks!" If you want to indicate a positive response to an offer, say "Bitte!"
Danke schön! Thank you!
Vielen Dank! Thanks a lot! - Many thanks!
Bitte schön! You're welcome! (in response to "Danke schön!")
Nein, danke! No thanks!

Two Important Verbs: haben and sein

To have and have not
Haben und nicht haben

The two most important German verbs are haben (to have) and sein (to be). As in most languages, the verb "to be" is one of the oldest verbs in German, and therefore one of the most irregular. The verb "to have" is only slightly less irregular, but no less vital to surviving in German.

We'll start with haben. Look at the following table for the conjugation of haben (to have) in the present tense, along with sample sentences. Notice the strong resemblance to English for many forms of this verb, with most forms only one letter off from the English (habe/have, hat/has). In the case of the familiar you (du), the German verb is identical to Old English: "thou hast" = "du hast."

Haben is also used in some German expressions that are translated with "to be" in English: Ich habe Hunger. = I'm hungry.

Deutsch English Sample Sentences
ich habe I have Ich habe einen roten Wagen. (...a red car.)
du hast you (fam.)
Du hast mein Buch. ( book.)
er hat he has Er hat ein blaues Auge. (...a black eye.)
sie hat she has Sie hat blaue Augen. ( eyes.)
es hat it has Es hat keine Fehler. ( flaws.)
wir haben we have Wir haben keine Zeit. ( time.)
ihr habt you (guys)
Habt ihr euer Geld? (...your money?)
sie haben they have Sie haben kein Geld. (They have no money.)
Sie haben you have Haben Sie das Geld? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)

To be or not to be...
Sein oder nicht sein...

Look at the following table for the conjugation of sein (to be) in the present tense. Notice how close the German and English forms are in the third person (ist/is).

Deutsch English Sample Sentences
ich bin I am Ich bin's. (It's me.)
du bist you (fam.)
Du bist mein Schatz. ( darling/treasure.)
er ist he is Er ist ein netter Kerl. (...a nice guy.)
sie ist she is Ist sie da? (Is she here?)
es ist it is Es ist mein Buch. ( book.)
wir sind we are "Wir sind das Volk!" ("We are the people/nation!" - Slogan of 1989 East German protests in Leipzig.)
ihr seid you (guys)
Seid ihr unsere Freunde? (..our friends.)
sie sind they are Sie sind unsere Freunde. (..our friends.)
Sie sind you are Sind Sie Herr Meier? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)

Info about studying German language:

  • Learn German in Austria: Young and dynamic agency born with the aim of connecting schools and students from all over the world. Find here more information about German language schools and German language courses in Austria.

Info about studying in German countries:

  • Guide to Study in Austria: Find universities and colleges in Austria. It offers also pratical information for students that are planning to study in Austria.