Meeting Someone New – Essential German Vocabulary List

Despite a reputation of being quite reserved and serious, many German people are very open and interested in other cultures. Many Germans also speak English quite well and are looking for opportunities to practice, so if you can’t express yourself perfectly in German, don’t worry! However, especially with the older generation, it helps to know some German in order to get a conversation started.

Du and Sie: In German, if you don’t know someone, it is safer to address him or her using the formal Sie. If you know somebody well or if he or she is a kid (under 16) you would use the informal Du. Lately, Du has become more acceptable, so if you and your new German acquaintance are under 35 and in a non-business setting it is likely that you will both agree to use Du and first names.

Note that if you are addressing someone using Sie, you would also call him or her by the last name, so it’s Herr (Mr.) Schmidt or Frau (Ms.) Schmidt. Addressing a woman as Fräulein (Miss) is completely outdated and in some cases might even offend the lady. For formally addressing a woman it is irrelevant whether or not she is married—it is always “Frau.”

Here are some preliminary phrases in German for you:

Phrase in German Phrase in English Pronunciation
Hallo/Guten Tag Hello/Good day Hullo/Goo-ten Tahg
Schön, Sie/Dich kennenzulernen. Nice to meet you. (formal/informal) Schoen zee/dich ken-nen-tsoo-ler-nen
Ich heiße… My name is… Ich hai-sser…
Wie heißen Sie?/Wie heißt du? What is your name? (formal/informal) Vee hai-ssen zee?/Vee hai-sst doo?
Woher kommen Sie? Where are you from? Voe-hair kom-men zee?
Sind Sie Deutscher/Deutsche? Are you German? (male/female) Zind zee Doy-tsher?
Ich bin… I am… Ich bin…
Amerikaner/Amerikanerin American (male/female) Ah-meh-ree-cah-ner/Ah-meh-ree-cah-ner-inn
Engländer/Engländerin English (male/female) Ang-lan-der/Ang-lan-der-inn
Australier/Australierin Australian (male/female) Ow-strah-lee-er/Ow-strah-lee-er-inn
Kanadier/Kanadierin Canadian (male/female) Cah-nah-dee-er/Cah-nah-dee-er-inn
Sprechen Sie Englisch?/Sprichst du Englisch? Do you speak English? (formal/informal) Spre-chen zee Ang-lish?/Sprichst doo Ang-lish?
Auf Wiedersehen/Tschüss Goodbye (formal/informal) Owf Vee-der-say-hen/Tshooss
Ich lerne Deutsch. I am studying German. Ich ler-ne Doytsh
Entschuldigung Excuse me Ent-shool-dee-goong
Können Sie das wiederholen?/Kannst du das wiederholen? Could you repeat that? (Formal/Informal) Kon-nen zee dus vee-der-hoe-len?/Kunnst doo dus vee-der-hoe-len?
Auf Englisch, bitte. In English, please. Owf Ang-lish bitt-er
Langsamer More slowly Lung-sum-mer
Herr Mr. Hair
Frau Mrs. Frow
Freund/Freundin Friend (male/female) Froynd/Froyn-dinn
Wie sagt man … auf Deutsch? How do you say … in German? Vee sugt mun … owf doytsh?
Was bedeutet … What does … mean? Vus be-doy-ted…
Bis morgen! See you tomorrow! Bis mohr-gen!
Bis bald/später! See you soon/later! Bis bult/Sper-ter!
Darf ich reinkommen? May I come in? Darf ich rine-kom-men?
Bitte (Bitte schön.) Please OR There you are. (long form) Bitt-er/Bitt-er-shoen.
Danke (Danke schön.) Thank you. (long form) Dunk-er/Dunk-er-shoen
Ich habe Hunger. I am hungry. Ich hab-er hoon-ger
Ich habe Durst. I am thirsty. Ich hab-er doorst
Ich bin müde. I am tired. Ich bin moo-der
Gute Nacht! Good night! Goo-ter Nucht!

Slang/Commonly Used Expressions:

Expression in German Expression in English Pronunciation
Hau ab! Go away!/Get lost! How ub!
Ich liebe dich. I love you. Ich lee-ber dich
Hilfe! Help! Hill-fer!
Prost!/Zum Wohl! Cheers! Prohst!/Tsum Vohl!
Hi! Tschau/Ciao! Hi! and Bye! (only informal, English and Italian words are used) Hi!/Chow!