60+ Basic German Words You Should Know As a Beginner

Are you going to be visiting Austria, Germany or Switzerland soon? Perhaps you're in contact with native German speakers from contact with family, friends or in the workplace?

In any event, we’ve prepared more than 60 basic German words to help you get off to a right start. We'll cover some basic greetings in German, how to pay when you're at shops, and how to get around town. More importantly, we'll uncover some useful German grammar tips on how to memorize German vocabulary to can reach conversation fluency faster.

Basic German Words You Should Know

Let's start with the basic greetings you should know when you meet someone new.

German greetings

Paying for things in German

Now we'll share some practical German phrases to help you as you go around town, shopping, drinking and dining out.

German English
Darf ich mit Bargeld bezahlen? May I pay with cash? 
Darf ich mit Kreditkarte bezahlen? May I pay with credit card?
Die Rechnung, bitte. The check, please. 
Frühstück Breakfast
Mittagessen Lunch
Abendessen Dinner

Getting around town in German

Here are some basic German words and phrases to help you find your way around town. These words will help you feel confident and comfortable even if you get lost!

German  English
Es ist da. It’s there.
Da ist es. There it is.
Um die Ecke. Around the corner.
Nach links. To the left.
Nach rechts. To the right.
Geradeaus Straight ahead
Sprechen Sie Englisch? Do you speak English?
Ich spreche nur ein wenig Deutsch. I only speak a little German.
Sprechen Sie Englisch? Do you speak English?
Ich verstehe nicht. I don’t understand.
Können Sie das bitte wiederholen? Can you repeat that please?
Könnten Sie bitte langsamer sprechen? Would you be able to speak slower please?

Common Questions in German you can ask

When you are talking with native German speakers, you will reach a point where somebody will ask you a question. You may also need to ask some questions yourself.

Here is a handy list of German words to help you ask a question.

German English
Wo? Where?
Wie? How?
Warum? Why?
Wer? Who?
Welches? Which?
Wo ist…? Where is…?
Wie viel? How much?
Wie viele? How many?
Was? What?

Most common German verbs

Verbs liven up any conversation, and you'll need it for just about any conversation you want to have. The following are the most popular verbs you can use in German, translated to English.

  • Kommen - Come
  • Lachen - Laugh
  • Machen - Make
  • Sehen - See
  • Trinken - Drink
  • Essen - Eat
  • Gehen - To go (on foot)
  • Fahren - To go (with transportation)

How to conjugate verbs in German

In German, you’ll see that the verb changes form more than English. There is one place where German verbs are easier than English verbs though. That is the present tense. While English has both a present tense and a continuous present tense, German uses one form to represent both tenses.

Here is an example:

English German
I come/am coming ich komme
you come/are coming du kommst
he comes/is coming er kommt
she comes/is coming sie kommt
it comes/is coming es kommt
we come/are coming wir kommen
you (plural) come/are coming ihr kommt
they come/are coming sie kommen
you come/are coming Sie kommen

Another verb we listed was ‘lachen’. You can conjugate it the same way as 'kommen' in the example above.

Take the first four letters, 'lach'- and add the endings you see in the table above. 'Ich lache' means ‘I laugh’, and so on. Machen works the same way as 'lachen'. Trinken also works this wa, so 'Ich trinke' and so on. 'Gehen' is another verb that is easy to conjugate. Just use the chart above: ich gehe etc.

This is a good time to practice your German verb conjugations. How do you say ‘we are drinking’ in German? If you said 'wir trinken', you were spot on.Another verb with a different conjugation is 'essen'. Ich esse, du isst, du ißt, er/sie/es isst, wir essen, ihr esst, ihr eßt, sie/Sie essen. Were you wondering what the ß is? It’s a double 's'. If you can’t find on your device, just type the letter 's' twice.

Your Next Steps

We designed this list of 60+ basic German words to kickstart your German learning journey.

Now, we get that these are a lot of words to memorize. We recommend you try making some old-fashioned flashcards using websites such as Anki or Memrise.

Once you’ve memorized at least 30 German words, start adding some more to your flashcards. It’s a great idea to clump words together as sentences early on. This will help you build up your conversational and listening abilities in German.

Check out Rype's German program, which offers you private language lessons on a daily basis with teachers available for you 24/7.

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