German words you need to know to build your German vocabulary

German words: How many words are in the German language?

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

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Common German words

When you know the most common 100 German words

You can understand 50% of the texts written in German

Top 10 most common German words pronounced by fluent German speakers

  1. 1. Hallo = Hello

    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:


  2. 2. Liebe = Love

    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:


  3. 3. Glück = Happiness

    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:


  4. 4. Katze = Cat

    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:


  5. 5. Hund = Dog

    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:


  6. 6. Lächeln = Smile

    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:


  7. 7. Deutscher = German

    Next, let’s see how people in Germany say “German”. The correct answer is "Deutscher". Listen to how a German speaker would pronounce it:


  8. 8. Ja = Yes

    German speakers say “yes” by simply saying “Ja”. Enhance your understanding by listening to how a person from Austria would pronounce this word:


  9. 9. Danke = Thank you

    A single “thank you” is all you need to make people smile everywhere you go. Here’s a fluent speaker thanking you in German:


  10. 10. Tschüss = Goodbye

    No polite conversation can end without a proper goodbye or “Tschüss” – how German people usually say. Here's how to correctly pronounce it:


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Speaking German

There are very important verbs that you will see all the time when learning German.

  • 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

Speaking German

How to learn German words effectively

People speaking German

As a newcomer to the German language, it is better to prioritize basic German words to learn.

    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

People speaking German

The most beautiful 10 German words

Top German words

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

Top German words

Why learn the most common German words first?

Make German learning fun and easier

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.

Have basic German conversations in no time

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.

Become fluent in German faster

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?

Basic German verbs

Each new German word you learn piles up until your vocabulary builds stronger and stronger. Each lesson gets you one step closer to fluency.

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