On my first trip to Germany, I don’t think I could have stood out as tourist more if I had tried! I spoke too loudly on the trains, didn’t wear a Dirndl to Oktoberfest (also, was at Oktoberfest), but most noticeably, I didn’t learn any German ahead of my trip.
Don’t be like me. In the numerous trips I’ve made to Germany since, I’ve found that these phrases will help you in most interactions. While the pronunciation can be tricky, I HIGHLY recommend practicing a few of these sayings. Not only will you avoid screaming “TOURIST” like I did, you might just make a new connection in the process!
How simple is this one? Just slightly change your regular pronunciation of “Hello” and BOOM! You’re a German speaker. “Hallo” is a greeting that will work for any time of the day. If you’re feeling adventurous use “Guten Morgen” in the morning or “Guten Abend” for “good evening”.
“Danke” is German for “thank you”. Obviously, this is a very useful word! Variations include “Danke schön” (thank you very much) and “Vielen Dank” (many thanks).
Maybe the most useful word on this list? Bitte can mean “please”, act as a greeting from a server, or mean “you’re welcome” – among other things. In fact, if you’re unsure of what to say, “Bitte” will probably work.
This is a mouthful, but it means “excuse me”. Use it before asking a question or after bumping into somebody.
Sprechen Sie Englisch?
“Do you speak English?” In major cities, the answer is likely yes. Still try using some of your other words, though.
Ich Bin Amerikaner/Amerikanerin
The male and female forms of “I am American”. But trust me, you probably won’t have to tell anyone. Everyone will already know.
Mein Deutsch ist Nicht Gut
Since we’ve moved, I say this everyday. The German language is very particular about grammar, but “My German is not good” is a helpful disclaimer before asking (or answering!) a question.
Ich Verstehe Nicht
Sometimes you just don’t understand, and this is what to say when that happens.
… die Toilette? … das Hotel? … der Bahnhof? “Wo ist” means “Where is”. This is useful for asking for a bathroom, where your hotel is or how to find the train station. Use “Entschuldigung” to be really fancy.
Ein Bier, Bitte
When in doubt, order a beer!
All of those consonants at the beginning of the word are scary, but the pronounciation of this word is actually very cute! Said like “choos”, Tschüss is my favorite way to say goodbye in German!
So there you have it! These are some great phrases to know while traveling in Germany. What do you think? Did I miss any good ones? Let me know!