92 Basic German Phrases To Survive Your First Conversation With A Native

basic german phrases

Have you ever wanted to learn German?

Or are you planning a trip to a German-speaking country?

To get started and have your first basic conversations in German, you're going to need to learn some words!

In this post, you'll learn 92 basic German phrases and words that will help you on your travels or just at home. 

To make it easier for you, I've divided the phrases into different categories.

  1. German Greetings & Introductions
  2. “I do not understand!” – Getting Out Of Sticky Situations
  3. Numbers In German
  4. Visiting A German Restaurant
  5. Transport – Getting Around In Germany
  6. Asking For Directions
  7. Shopping In German
  8. Dealing with Medical Emergencies
  9. Finding Hidden Gems

Whether you're going to Germany or Austria or Switzerland, chances are you can get by in English. But if you learn basic German too, you'll be able to connect more with German speakers. 

Having a few common German phrases will make you experience these countries in a completely different way.

And even at home, learning German will allow you to learn more about German culture and connect with native German speakers in your local community.

You don't need to have a natural flair for language learning. Learning a few key phrases and being able to use them is a great start. And German isn't as hard as its reputation suggests, especially for native English speakers. 

You never know, maybe learning these phrases will motivate you to go on and learn to speak German fluently.

Note: Want to go beyond basic German phrases and learn German with confidence and fluency? The best way to do so is by working through a comprehensive and well designed course. My top recommendation is German Uncovered, my in-depth online German course for beginners that teaches you through the power of story.

German Greetings & Introductions

German greetings and introductions

If you want to make a good impression with German speakers, you'll need a few basic phrases to meet and greet people.

After all, you're going to use greetings every time you have a conversation in German!

These phrases are simple, easy to remember and will help you make new German friends. 

#1 HalloHello [any time of day]

#2 Hallo, wie geht’s? Hello, how are you?

#3 Guten Morgen – Good morning

#4 Guten Tag [lit. good day]Good afternoon

#5 Guten Abend – Good evening

#6 Gute Nacht – Good night

#7 Vielen Dank – Thank you very much

#8Ich danke Ihnen auchThank you, too [in reply to “thank you” from someone else else]

#9 Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal – Goodbye, see you next time

#10 Schönes Wetter heute, nicht wahr? It's lovely weather today, is not it?

#11 Mein Name ist _ – My name is _____

#12 Ich bin Amerikaner, Kanadier, Engländer (male) – I'm American / Canadian / English

#13 Ich bin Amerikanerin, Kanadierin, Engländerin (female) – I'm American / Canadian / English

#14 Woher kommen Sie? Where are you from?

#15 Freut mich – Nice to meet you!

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“I Do Not Understand!” – Getting Out Of Sticky Situations

getting out of sticky German situations

It might seem a little intimidating to speak German, especially if you're new to the language. German people will be understanding if you're struggling to get your message across or catch what they say.

At the same time, don't hesitate to use these expressions to help the conversation run smoothly if you don't understand something or need a little help.

#16 Sorry, aber ich verstehe nicht – I'm sorry, but I do not understand

#17Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch – I do not speak German very well

#18 Können Sie das bitte wiederholen? Could you say that again please?

#19 Können Sie bitte langsamer sprechen? Could you say that more slowly please?

#20Schreiben Sie das bitte für mich aufPlease write that down for me

#21 Was bedeutet das? What does that mean?

#22 Sprechen Sie Englisch? Do you speak English?

#23 Es tut mir leidI'm sorry

#24 Ich weiß nicht I do not know

#25 In Ordnung – All right

#26 Macht nichtsnever mind

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Numbers In German

numbers in German

Whether you're at the supermarket, ordering in a restaurant, or just having a normal conversation, it's essential to know how to use numbers in German. Eins, zwei, drei….let's get to it!

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Visiting A German Restaurant

eating out in German

One of the most enjoyable cultural experiences you can have in a German-speaking country is visiting a restaurant and trying out some of the delicious local dishes.

The following phrases cover all the questions and statements you need to make when eating out, from asking for a table to paying the bill!

#27 Ein Tisch für eine Person bitte A table for one, please

#28 Ein Tisch für zwei Personen, bitte – A table for two, please

#29 Haben Sie schon auf? Are you open yet?

#30 Können wir (auf einen Tisch) warten? Can we wait (for a table)?

#31 Können wir dort sitzen? Can we sit over there?

#32 Entschuldigung! Excuse me! [Calling a waiter]

#33 Was empfehlen Sie? What do you recommend?

#34 Was ist das beliebteste Gericht? What's your most popular dish?

#35 Was ist das? What is this?

#36 Was für Bier haben Sie? What type of beer do you have?

#37 Ein kleines Bier bitte – A small beer, please

#38 Ein großes Bier bitte – A large beer, please

#39 Bringen Sie mir bitte eine Auswahl von leckeren Sachen – Please bring me a selection of nice things

#40 Bitte wählen Sie etwas – It's up to you / You can decide

#41 Die Rechnung, bitte – The bill, please

#42 Kann ich bitte die Speisekarte haben? Can I have the menu, please?

By the way, if you're interested in food and drink as it relates to German culture, take a look at this post about Oktoberfest, the world-famous Bavarian beer festival. 

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Transport – Getting Around In Germany

german transport

There are lots of practicalities to consider when taking a trip to Germany, including finding your way around. Finding the right train or bus on time isn’t always easy and you don’t want to end up being the ‘foreigner’ who is holding up the ticket queue!

In this section, you’ll learn some key transport phrases that will help you quickly and easily navigate your way around any German-speaking city or country.

#43 Ich möchte nach _____ – I want to go to

#44 Wann fährt der nächste Zug / Bus nach _____?What time is the next train/bus to __?

#45 Was kostet das?How much is it?

#46 Einmal/ zweimal (nach _____), bitte1 ticket / 2 tickets (to _____), please

#47 Wie lange dauert das?How long does it take?

#48 Wohin muss ich jetzt gehen?Where should I go now?

#49 Wann fährt er ab?When does it leave?

#50 Wie spät ist es (jetzt)?What time is it (now)?

#51 Hält der Zug/ Bus in _?Does this train/bus stop in _____?

#52 Entschuldigen Sie, ist dies _____?Excuse me, is this _____ ? [Useful when you're on the bus / train and are not sure when to get off]

#53 Können Sie das bitte für mich aufschreiben? Can you write that down for me?

#54 Zeigen Sie mir das bitte auf der Karte? Can you show me on the map?

#55 Wo ist _____ auf der Karte? Where is _____  on the map?

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Asking For Directions In German 

looking for directions

Public transport in Germany is notoriously excellent, but there are some places you'll need to walk or drive to yourself. And for most of us, that means occasionally getting lost and asking for directions!

Here are the phrases you need to ask and receive directions in German:

#56 Entschuldigung, darf ich Sie etwas fragen? – Excuse me, could I ask you something?

#57 Ich möchte nach _____ – I want to go to _ [If you know the name of your destination]

#58 Ich möchte dahin – I want to go here [Pointing to your destination on the map]

#59 Ich habe mich verlaufen – I'm lost (on foot)

#60 Ich habe mich verfahren – I'm lost (by car)

#61 Wie komme ich dahin? How can I get there?

#62 Geht es hier lang? Is it this way? [Useful for checking if you're walking in the right direction]

#63 Zeigen Sie mir das bitte auf der Karte? Can you show me on the map?

#64 Wo ist __?Where is _ ?

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Shopping And Grabbing A Bargain In German

shopping in German

Whether you're at the supermarket, the shopping centre or the local farmer's market you're going to buy things at some point or another!

And even haggle a bit –  just like you would in English. Grab a bargain in German with these sentences. 

#65 Das gefällt mir – I like this

#66 Was kostet das? How much is this?

#67 Bitte wiederholen Sie das – Can you say that again please?

#68 Schreiben Sie das bitte für mich auf? Can you write that down for me?

#69 Und wenn ich das alles kaufe? If I buy these together? [A useful way to knock the price down]

#70 Das ist mir zu teuer – it's too expensive for me

#71 Geben Sie mir einen Rabatt? Can you give me a discount?

#72 Ich suche nach _____ – I'm looking for a _____

#73 Ich schaue mich nur umI'm just looking around

#74 Danke, ich suche noch weiter – Thank you, I'll keep looking [if you're getting hassled to buy something]

#75 Moment, bitte – Just a moment

#76 Ja, bitte – Yes, please

#77 Nein, danke – No, thanks

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Dealing With Medical Emergencies In German 

german medical emergency

Hopefully, you'll never need the phrases in this section! Nonetheless, it's always good to know some basic medical vocabulary so that you can handle an emergency if you're unwell or have an accident.

#78 Können Sie mir bitte helfen? Can you help me, please?

#79 Ich brauche einen Arzt – I need to see a doctor

#80 Es geht mir nicht gutI do not feel well

#81 Es geht ihm/ihr nicht gut he / she does not feel well

#82 Gibt es ein Krankenhaus in der Nähe? Is there a hospital near here?

#83 Fahren Sie mich bitte zum Krankenhaus – Take me to the hospital [To a taxi driver]

#84 Es tut hier weh – It hurts here [pointing to body part]

#85 Ich brauche Medizin – I need some medicine

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Finding Hidden Gems In German-Speaking Countries 

german cafe
Finally, let's learn a few more phrases that don't fall into any particular category. These final examples of basic vocabulary will allow you to sound more polite and natural.

I've included a couple of questions you can ask the locals, so you can find the hidden gems in their cities and have a more authentic German experience!

#86 Es tut mir leid, Sie zu stören, aber… – I'm sorry to bother you, but …

#87 Kann ich Sie schnell etwas fragen? Could I ask you something quickly?

#88 Ich suche ein Restaurant mit gutem Essen hier in der Nähe – I'm looking for a place with good food around here

#89 Ich suche ein nettes Café in der Nähe – I'm looking for a nice cafe in the area

#90 Wissen Sie was über _____?Do you know anything about _____ ?

#91 Gibt es hier in der Nähe etwas Interessantes zu sehen – Is there anything interesting to see in this area?

#92 Trotzdem danke – Thank you anyway [if the person can not help you]

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Your Next Steps In German

German Uncovered Course 800px

So there you have it: a collection of German expressions to help you get started on your new adventure!

With these phrases in your back pocket, you'll soon find yourself having your first basic conversations and getting excited about continuing to improve your German.

So now that you've learned the basics, are you ready to take the next step in your German adventure?

I'm a big believer in the power of story to enable you to learn a language. That's why I've created an entire beginner course to help you learn German online by immersing yourself in a compelling story.

It's my German Uncovered course, and it's designed to take you from beginner to B1 Intermediate level.

Click here for more information on the course and how it'll help you.

How many of these phrases did you know already? Which new phrases do you think are most useful for you in your conversations? Let me know in the comments below.

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