Around the 2000s, the German language was estimated to have 300,000 to 400,000 words. However, a recent analysis of the Dudenkorpus, an electronic collection of texts, counted no less than 17.4 million base forms (different words in uninflected form).
Nevertheless, German is known for its very long, compound words. A compound word is formed when two words (or sometimes even more) are used together to create a new meaning.
Here are a few compound German words to start learning.
• Handschuh: Hand + Schuh (Hand + shoe): Glove
• Flugzeug: Flug + Zeug (Flight + Staff): Airplane
• Staubsauger: Staub + Sauger (Dust + Vacuum): Vacuum cleaner
• Waschmaschine: Wasch + Maschine (Wash + Machine): Washing machine
• Trockenzeit: Trocken + Zeit (Dry + Time): Dry season
• Orangensaft: Orange + Saft (Orange + Juice): Orange juice
• Haustürschlüssel: Haus + Tür + Schlüssel (House + Door + Key): Front door key
• Sprachschule: Sprache + Schule: Language school
• Zimmerservice: Zimmer + Service: Room service
• Hauptbahnhof: Haupt + Bahnof: Main train station
• Superwetter: Super + Wetter: Great weather
When you know the most common 100 German words
You can understand 50% of the texts written in German
Let's naturally start with "Hallo" which means "Hello" in German. This is one of the most known words in German and a great way to start a conversation with someone from Germany. Click play below to listen to the actual pronunciation:
Love is a universal feeling and we definitely had to talk about it here. German people have a lovely way of saying they love someone or something through the word "Liebe". Hear it in action here:
When there's love, there's definitely happiness. We are all chasing "Glück" as German-speaking people would say. Listen closely and you might just get some “Happiness” in your life today:
Let's talk pets. There are two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. We are going to talk about cats first or how people in Austria would say: "Katze". Listen to how it sounds like:
But let's not forget our lovely and loyal companions, dogs. A dog in German is "Hund", a really useful word for dog lovers worldwide. Here is how you would pronounce it:
Now it is time to smile. Or how someone from Germany would say: "lächeln". Smiling makes us happy and helps us stay healthy, so that's why we all need to smile every day. Here's the German pronunciation:
Next, let’s see how people in Germany say “German”. The correct answer is "Deutscher". Listen to how a German speaker would pronounce it:
German speakers say “yes” by simply saying “Ja”. Enhance your understanding by listening to how a person from Austria would pronounce this word:
A single “thank you” is all you need to make people smile everywhere you go. Here’s a native speaker thanking you in German:
No polite conversation can end without a proper goodbye or “Tschüss” – how German people usually say. Here's how to correctly pronounce it:
nehmen: to take
verstehen: to understand
treffen: to meet
einladen: to invite
gehen: to go
kaufen: to buy
essen: to eat
gehen: to walk
sprechen: to say, to tell, to speak
wissen: to know
kommen: to come
besuchen: to visit
wollen: to want
sehen: to see
stehen: to stand
denken: to think
fragen: to ask
German words related to 'places'
• Buchladen: bookshop
• Supermarkt: supermarket
• Bäckerei: bakery
• Einkaufszentrum: shopping mall
• Krankenhaus: hospital
• Polizeirevier: police station
German words related to 'time'
• Stunde: hour
• Sekunde: second
• Gestern: yesterday
• Morgen: tomorrow
• Heute: today
• Jahr: year
• Woche: week
German words related to 'eating out'
• Kaffee: coffee
• Bier: beer
• Tee: tea
• Wein: wine
• Wasser: water
• Salat: salad
• Suppe: soup
• Hähnchen: chicken
• Rindfleisch: beef
• Fisch: fish
Truth be told, German really does sound harsh compared to other languages. But however harsh it may sound, there is one thing that German doesn’t lack: beautiful words.
● Sehnsucht – to yearn for, to crave
● Torschlusspanik – last-minute panic
● Zeitgeist – the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time
● Reisefieber – travel fever
● Wanderlust – the desire to travel the world; similar to Reisefieber
● Luftkuss – an air kiss, blown kiss, or thrown kiss
● Augenblick – a super short moment
● Vorfreude– joyful anticipation
● Waldeinsamkeit – sublime and peaceful feeling you get while being alone in the woods
● Vergangenheitsbewältigung – coping with the past
Starting with the German basics means you will begin by learning the easiest words first and gradually increase difficulty. This way you will feel great while learning and see how your language knowledge broadens.
You'll be able to speak to someone from Berlin or Vienna about regular topics like weather, politics or family. This will make you confident in your German skills and eager to learn more.
By learning the most common German words first you are learning the smart way. Why learn the most unusual words in German when you might never use them in real life?
Each new German word you learn piles up until your vocabulary builds stronger and stronger. Each lesson gets you one step closer to fluency.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Join over 1 million people enjoying our occasional language tips, special offers and more.
The email address is not valid