Lesson 7: Numbers

In this lesson you will learn how to count in German. We’ll start with the basic numbers and move on to compound numbers and dates.

Look at the table below first:

1                    eins

2                    zwei

3                    drei

4                    vier

5                    fünf

6                    sechs

7                    sieben

8                    acht

9                    neun

10                zehn

11                elf

12                zwölf

13                dreizehn

14                vierzehn

15                fünfzehn

16                sechzehn

17                siebzehn

18                achtzehn

19                neunzehn

20                zwanzig

These are the basic numbers in German. Notice that all of the numbers in the teens end with “zehn” for “ten.” After twenty, you simply place the smaller digit in front of the larger number and add “and.”

For example, 21-29:

21                einundzwanzig

22                zweiundzwanzig

23                dreiundzwanzig

24                vierundzwanzig

25                fünfundzwanzig

26                sechsundzwanzig

27                siebenundzwanzig

28                achtundzwanzig

29                neunundzwanzig

The pattern for the rest of the numbers is very similar. Here are a few other numbers:

30         dreißig

40        vierzig

50         fünfzig

60         sechzig

70         siebzig

80         achtzig

90         neunzig

100       hundert

In order to write dates, you need to know an altered set of numbers. One is an exception to the pattern of numbers for dates. If you want to say the first, you have to use “erste.” For the rest of the numbers 2-20, you simply add “te” to the end of the number. (7 becomes siebte). For higher numbers, you add “ste” to the end (einundzwanzigste).

Lesson 6: Months

This lesson will teach you the months and seasons in German.

The words for the seasons are as follows:

Winter             der Winter

Spring              der Frühling

Summer          der Sommer

Fall                  der Herbst

If you want to say “in spring, in summer,” etcetera, you can use the word “im” for “in.” Im simply goes before the season.

For example: Es ist kalt im Winter. This means, “It is cold in winter.”

The months are as follows:

January            Januar             (Yahn-yoo-are)

February          Februar           (Feh-brew-are)

March             März                (Mehrz)

April                April                (Ah-pril)

May                 Mai                  (My)

June                 Juni                  (Yoo-knee)

July                  Juli                   (Yoo-lee)

August             August             (Auw-goost)

September      September      (Zep-tem-ber)

Oktober           Oktober           (Ok-to-ber)

November       November       (No-vem-ber)

December       Dezember        (Day-zehm-ber)

As you can see, the months are really similar to their English counterparts. Some of them even have the exact same spelling; they are just pronounced a little differently.

In order to say “in December, in October,” etcetera, you use “im” just like with the seasons. If you want to say “on December 17th,” you have to use “am” instead of “im.”

Mein Geburtstag ist am siebzehnte Dezember. (My birthday is on December 17th).

(Note: This sentence would normally be spoken like the sentence above, but be written like this: Mein Geburtstag ist am 17. Dezember.)

Notice how the number changed from siebzehn (17) to siebzehnte (17th) because it is being used as a date. Numbers and their forms will be taught in the next lesson.

Mein Geburtstag ist im Winter.

My birthday is in the winter.

The above sentence is an example of when it is appropriate to use “im” instead of “am.”

Lesson 5: Days of the Week

Days of the Week

The purpose of this lesson is to teach you how to say the days of the week in German. Take a look at the list below:

Sunday             der Sonntag

Monday           der Montag

Tuesday           der Dienstag

Wednesday     der Mittwoch

Thursday         der Donnerstag

Friday              der Freitag

Saturday          der Samstag

Most names end with “tag” because it is the German word for “day.” The days of the week are simple to learn and follow a pattern much like their English counterparts. Wednesday is the only day that doesn’t end in Tag. “Mittwoch” literally means “midweek.” This is why the ending is “woch” instead of “tag.”

Usually, if you want to say something is happening on a certain day of the week, you place the word “am” before it. “Am” is the equivalent of “on.”

The article for the days of the week is always “der.” This is usually omitted when using “am.”

For example:

I’m coming on Wednesday.    Ich komme am Mittwoch.

Ich is the word for “I,” Mittwoch for “Wednesday,” and “am” for “on.” Komme is the conjugated form of kommen which means, “to come or arrive.” Look at the sample sentences below for more practice with days of the week:

Welcher Tag ist heute?           Which day is it today?

Heute ist Donnerstag.             Today is Thursday.

Welcher Tag ist morgen?       Which day is tomorrow?

Morgen ist Freitag.                 Tomorrow is Friday.

Dann kommt Samstag.           Then, comes Saturday.

Ich habe Chemie, Japanisch, und Deutsch am Dienstag.

On Tuesday, I have chemistry, Japanese, and German.

You can also add “jeden” or “letzten” before the days of the week. “Jeden” means “every” and “letzten” means “last.”

Examples: letzten Montag (last Monday) and jeden Donnerstag (every Thursday).

Jeden Mittwoch, ich gehe zur Schule.            I go to school every Wednesday.

Lesson 4: Colors

Colors work exactly like adjectives do in German (and they are, technically, adjectives as
well). Colors can end a sentence and can be negated with nicht. If the color is
being negated, nicht must appear before the color.

List of
Colors:

braun               brown

blau                 blue

schwartz          black

lila                   purple

weiß                white

grün                 green

orange             orange

gelb                 yellow

golden             gold

silbern             silver

 

Below are
some example sentences using colors (some sentences show the negation of the
adjective).

Es ist nicht
silbern. Es ist golden.

It is not
silver. It is gold.

Das Auto ist
blau.

The car is
blue.

Das Buch ist
nicht gelb.

The book is
not yellow.

 

Using colors
in sentences is really easy once you understand how adjectives function in a
sentence.

You can also
modify the basic colors by placing a prefix before the word. By using prefixes,
you can say “light blue” or “dark blue” instead of just “blue.” The prefix for
light is “hell-“ and the prefix for dark is “dunkel-.”

Take a look
at the example sentences below.

Das ist
nicht hellblau. Das ist dunkelblau.

That is not
light blue. That is dark blue.

Die
Handtasche ist dunkelbraun.

The purse is
dark brown.

Das Auto ist
schwartz und dunkelgrün.

The car is
black and dark green.

Das Haus ist
braun und weiß.

The house is
brown and white.

 

Lesson 3: Basic Nouns and Adjectives

This lesson
will give you some basic nouns and adjectives and teach you how to use them as
well as negate them.

These lists
will give you some basic vocabulary, starting with nouns in the first list
followed by adjectives in the second list.

Nouns

der Mann        man

die Frau           woman

das Mädchen  girl

der Junge        boy

die Katze         cat

der Hund         dog

das Buch          book

der Tisch         table

der Stuhl          chair

das Zimmer     room

 

Adjectives

alt                    old

jung                 young

müde               tired

gut                   good

kalt                  cold

heiß                 hot

warm               warm

groß                 tall

klein                short/small

schön               beautiful

hässlich           ugly

dünn                skinny

dick                  fat

freundlich        friendly

It is
important to remember that ALL proper nouns are capitalized in German. This
includes Sie when it is used as a formal pronoun (meaning “you”). All nouns
also carry what is called an “article.” The basic articles in German are der,
die, and das. Keep in mind that “die” in German is pronounced like “dee” and
“das” is pronounced like “dass.” The German “w” is pronounced like a “v” in
English.

Take a look
at the following example sentences to learn how to use the vocabulary above.

Der Mann ist
groß.

The man is
tall.

Die Frau ist
schön.

The woman is
pretty.

Das Mädchen ist sehr
freundlich.

The girl is
very friendly.

Das Zimmer
ist kalt.

The room is
cold.

Der Hund ist
alt.

The dog is
old.

Notice that
the sentence starts with the noun and is followed by the correct conjugation of
the verb (in this case the verb “to be”). The adjectives follow and it is
grammatically correct to have them end the sentence in these examples.

Negating
Sentences

In order to
negate a noun, the correct form of the word “kein” must be used. The form of
the word will depend on the article that appears before the noun.

Der is the
masculine article, die is feminine, and das is neutral. Kein changes to keine
when used before the article die. When used with der and das, kein is
appropriate. When using kein, the article does not need to appear before the
noun.

For example:
Ich bin kein Mann. This sentence uses kein because the article of Mann is der.
Der is replaced by kein. This sentence translates to “I am not a man.”

Another
example: Das ist keine Katze. Keine is used because die is the article that
appears before Katze. This sentence means, “That is not a cat.”

In order to
negate an adjective, you must use the word nicht.

For example:
Die Frau ist nicht alt. Nicht appears before the adjective it is negating. This
sentence means “The woman is not old.”

Lesson 2: Basic Sentences & Phrases

This lesson will give you some more basic sentences and phrases to become familiar with. Take a look at the sample conversations below.

Conversation #1:

A: Hallo! Wie geht es dir? (Hello! How are you?)

B: Guten Tag. Mir geht es gut. Wie geht es dir? (Good day/hello. I am fine. How are you?)

A: Mir geht es nicht so gut.  (I am not so fine.)

B: Warum geht es dir nicht so gut? (Why are you not fine?)

A: Ich bin sehr müde. (I am very tired.)

B: Es tut mir leid. (I’m sorry.)

Conversation #2:

A: Wie alt bist du? (How old are you?)

B: Ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt. Und du? (I am 20 years old. And you?)

A: Ich bin dreiundzwanzig Jahre alt. (I am 23 years old.)

In the first conversation, person A is replying that he or she does not feel well. You could also say, in this situation, “Ich bin nicht gut.” This means, “I am not fine.” The “so” in the conversation example has the same effect as “so” in the English language. That is why “Ich bin nicht so gut” means “I am not so fine.”

Warum is the word for “why.” When asking someone a question, the verb usually comes first. If there is a question word, that word then goes to the front of the verb. The example is “Warum bist du nicht so gut?” Bist is the verb form of “am” that corresponds with you (du). Since “warum” is a question word, it is appearing before the verb in this question.

Here is the conjugation chart for “sein” (the verb for “to be”). Please note that “sein” is an irregular verb, so the chart must be memorized because it doesn’t follow the normal pattern.

Ich                   bin                   I am

Du                    bist                  You are

Er/sie/es          ist                    He/she/it is

Wir                  sind                  We are

Ihr                    seid                  You all are

Sie/sie             sind                      You (formal)/they are

In the first conversation, “müde” is the word for “tired.” This is modified by “sehr” meaning “very.” It is typical for a modifier to appear before the word it is modifying in German.

In the second conversation, you should note that Jahre (meaning year or years) is capitalized. This is because it is a proper noun; all proper nouns are capitalized in German. Modifiers, pronouns (except for Sie), and verbs are not capitalized.

Also note that in the second conversation, “how old are you?” is being asked. Since it is in question form, the verb is coming before the pronoun. The verb isn’t in second place here, but it still comes before the pronoun. This is one of the irregular sentences (verbs are usually in first or second position when a question is being asked.

“Es tut mir leid,” from the first conversation, is the standard way to say “I’m sorry.”

Practicing with these new sentences and phrases will help you become more familiar with German and make it easier to learn more complicated structures. But for now, just focus on these basics!

Lesson 1: Introductions & Greetings

The very first thing you should learn in German is how to introduce yourself. For this, you will need to learn a verb, a pronoun, and basic sentence structure. You will also need to learn some basic greetings. It is helpful to learn the conjugations of new verbs as soon as you learn the verb. This way, you can begin memorizing it right away. This lesson will cover all of these points.

Look at the list of simple greetings and phrases below:

Hallo                            Hello

Guten Tag                   Good Day

Guten Morgen                        Good morning

Guten Abend               Good evening

Gute Nacht                  Good night

Ja                                 Yes

Nein                             No

Heißen                         verb meaning “to be called” or “am”

Wie geht’s?                 How are you?

Wie geht es dir?          How are you? (more formal)

Gut                              good

Nicht                            not

Sehr                             very

Und                              and

Dir/dich                       you (not at the beginning of a sentence)

Mir/mich                     Me

Danke                          Thanks

Bitte                            please

Wie                              how

Bis bald                       see you soon

Bis morgen                  See you tomorrow

Auf wiedersehen         Goodbye

Notice the verb on the chart is “heißen.” This literally means “to be called,” but it is also used for introducing oneself.

Look at the conjugation chart below to learn how to conjugate heißen. Heißen is an irregular verb.

Ich                   heiße

Du                    heißt

Er/sie/es          heißt

Wir                  heißen

Ihr                    heißt

Sie/sie             heißen

Now, look at the sample conversation below.

Andrea: Guten Tag! Wie geht es dir?

Markus: Guten Tag! Es geht mir gut, danke. Und dir?

Andrea: Mir geht es auch gut. Wie heißt du?

Markus: Ich heiße Markus. Wie heißt du?

Andrea: Ich heiße Andrea. Freut mich dich kennenzulernen.

Markus: Freut mich auch dich kennenzulernen.

And now, the English:

Andrea: Good day/hello! How are you?

Markus: Good day/hello! I am very fine, thanks. And you?

Andrea: I am fine. What is your name? (Literally, “How are you called?”)

Markus: My name is Markus. What is your name?

Andrea: I am Andrea. Nice to meet you. (Literally, “It pleases me to meet you.”)

Markus: Nice to meet you, too.

This conversation represents a simple greeting and introduction between two people who are near the same age. Therefore, this conversation was somewhat informal. For example, if you wanted to speak formally, instead of saying “Wie heißt du?” you would say “Wie heißen Sie?” Notice that the verb changes because of the pronoun. The pronoun went from you informal (du) to you formal (Sie). Sie is always capitalized when it means you (formal), even if it is in the middle of the sentence. On the other hand, I (ich) is only capitalized when it appears at the beginning of a sentence.

Often times in German, you will see verbs at the end of the sentence. This is usually if there are two verbs in a sentence. In “What is your name?” the structure is the exact same as in English.

Ich heiße Andrea. (ich= I heiße=am Andrea=name).

This will not always be the case! When you learn a new sentence, be sure to note the place of the verb. It can be difficult to get the hang of at first, but you will soon recognize which verbs go in last position and which go in second position (after the subject).

Introduction

Introduction

German is an easy language for native English speakers to learn. Both languages are Western (meaning Germanic) languages, so they have many similarities. English and German both use the Roman alphabet and have many words that are similar. This is because many English words were derived from German words. German grammar and sentence structure also shares some similarities with English.

The biggest hurdle for native English speakers learning German is simply vocabulary and some grammar. Pronunciation is not hard for an English speaker, and it helps that both languages are written with the same characters (with a few exceptions).

The main differences between the German alphabet and the English alphabet are the “ess tset” (ß) and umlauts (two small dots over a vowel). The ß symbol simply reads like “ss” would in English. This symbol is used after long vowels, and a regular “s” is used after short vowels. Umlauts change the pronunciation of the vowel. These differences are very minute when compared to the English language and should not pose a problem to new students of German.

The other differences between German and English lie in the conjugations of verbs. This is because German has a polite form that is used for formal speech. When speaking formally in German, one should use the pronoun “Sie”* and the corresponding verb conjugation. See the charts below for more information.

*Please note that, unlike in English, all proper nouns are capitalized in German even if they do not begin a sentence. The pronoun “Sie,” when used formally, is also capitalized. The pronoun for “I” (ich) is only capitalized when it starts a sentence.

Pronoun Charts and Example Conjugations

Personal Pronouns                  Singular                       Plural

First person                 ich       I                       wir       we

Second person             du        you                  ihr        you all

Third person                er         he                    sie        they

sie        she

es         it

Formal                         Sie       you                  Sie       they

Notice that in the above chart, Sie/sie is used quite often. Sie can mean her, they, you (formal), or they (formal). You can tell which form is being used by context and by the verb conjugation. This may be confusing to new students of the language, but after a little practice, you’ll start to pick up on the patterns.

Now take a look at the conjugation chart below for a regular verb “gehen” (to go).

ich                   gehe                I go

du                    gehst               You go

er/sie/es          geht                 He/she/it goes

wir                   gehen              We go

ihr                    geht                 You all go

sie/Sie             gehen              They/you (formal) go

 

Notice how the ending changes for each conjugation. For most verbs, the above pattern is followed in order to get the correct conjugation. There are several irregular verbs; those conjugations must simply be memorized. Below is an example of an irregular conjugation chart for the verb “sein” (to be).

ich                   bin                   I am

du                    bist                  You are

er/sie/es          ist                    He/she/it is

wir                   sind                  We are

ihr                    seid                  You all are

sie/Sie             sind                  They/you (formal) are

Irregular verbs do not follow patterns. For each irregular verb you learn, you must memorize the conjugations for each pronoun.