Common German Words and Phrases

Getting to know common German phrases is going to be vital for your German learning journey. There is a lot more to the language than just grammar lessons and the words and phrases will act as shortcuts for you.

Below is a list of the basic German phrases that will get you through a whole bunch of scenarios. Learn them, then get away from the screen and try them out in the real world! Have some fun with them.

If you are looking for more tips on other parts of learning German, check out our guide on How to Learn German. Now, let's get stuck into our list!

German Slang

Bock haben - To be in the mood for something - “Ich habe heute keinen Bock auf Arbeit

Krass - Cool/Awesome

Quatsch - Nonsense/Rubbish

Läuft bei dir! - Things are going well for you!

Schickimicki - Fancy/Posh (referring to a person or place)

Der Kumpel - Buddy/Pal

Die Mucke - Music

Die Kohle - Money

Fresse halten - Shut up/Be quiet - “​​Kannst du bitte die Fresse halten?”

Geil - Awesome/Cool

Basic German Phrases for Travel

Germany is a fantastic country to travel to. It’s big, there are plenty of cities, the nature is varied, and the trains go to every little village you can imagine. If you are travelling there on holidays, lucky you!

We have set you up with some basic German phrases for travel that will help you with directions, eating out and much more.

Basic Phrases:

Hallo! (Hello!)

Guten Morgen/Tag/Abend! (Good morning/day/evening!)

Auf Wiedersehen!/Tschüss (Goodbye!)

Bitte (Please.)

Danke! (Thank you!)

Entschuldigung (Excuse me./I'm sorry.)

Sprechen Sie Englisch? (Do you speak English?)

Wo ist...? (Where is...?)

Bis später (See you later)

Phrases for making your way around the city

Können Sie mir bitte helfen? (Can you please help me?)

Ich verstehe das nicht. (I don't understand that.)

Könnten Sie das wiederholen, bitte? (Could you repeat that, please?)

Ich möchte gerne... (I would like to...)

Haben Sie Empfehlungen für Restaurants? (Do you have recommendations for restaurants?)

Wie viel kostet das? (How much does that cost?)

Könnten Sie mir eine Wegbeschreibung geben? (Could you give me directions?)

Können Sie mir einen Tipp geben, was man hier sehen sollte? (Can you give me a tip on what to see here?)

Phrases for ordering in bars

Ich hätte gerne ein Bier, bitte. (I would like a beer, please.)

Noch einmal, bitte. (Another beer, please)

Prost! (Cheers!)

Zum Wohl! (To your health!/Cheers!)

Phrases for ordering in restaurants

Ich hätte gerne... (I would like...)

Könnte ich bitte die Speisekarte sehen? (Could I please see the menu?)

Ich nehme... (I'll have...)

Für mich das Gleiche, bitte. (The same for me, please.)

Könnten Sie mir empfehlen, was besonders gut ist? (Could you recommend something that is especially good?)

Die Rechnung, bitte. (The bill, please.)

Phrases for talking to people in your hotel/hostel

Ich heiße David. Und du? (I'm David. And you?)

Ich komme aus Irland. Wie ist es mit dir? (I'm from Irealnd. How about you?)

Ich bin gerade erst angekommen (I just arrived)

Ich mache Urlaub / Ich bin geschäftlich hier (I'm on vacation / I'm here for work. How about you?)

Als nächstes werde ich Frankfurt besuchen (Next, I will visit Frankfurt).

Ich bleibe 2 Wochen hier (I'm staying for 2 weeks).

Funny German Phrases

1. "Es ist mir Wurst." (It's sausage to me.)
Meaning: This means "I don't care".

2. "Da steppt der Bär." (The bear dances there.)    
Meaning: To describe a lively and wild party or event.

3. "Wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor stehen." (To stand like a cow in front of a new gate.)
Meaning: To be clueless or not know what to do in a new or unfamiliar situation.

4. "Der Himmel hängt voller Geigen." (The sky is full of violins.)
Meaning: This phrase is used to convey the feeling of joy and happiness associated with sunny weather. It suggests that everything is perfect and harmonious.

5.  "Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof." (Life is not a pony farm.)
Meaning: This means life is not easy.

German Expressions You Should Know

1. "Schwein haben". (To have a pig.)  
Meaning: To be lucky or fortunate.

2. "Das Wetter ist wie gemalt." (The weather is like a painting.)
Meaning: This idiom is used to describe exceptionally beautiful weather, as if it were carefully crafted or painted.

3. "Die Sonne lacht." (The sun is laughing.)
Meaning: This idiom indicates sunny weather and suggests that the sun is shining brightly and happily.

4. "Strahlend blauer Himmel." (Radiantly blue sky.)
Meaning: This phrase describes a clear, vividly blue sky, often seen on a beautiful sunny day.

5. "Sonne satt." (Sun in abundance.)
Meaning: This idiom expresses that there is an abundance of sunshine, emphasizing the presence of a generous amount of sunlight.

6.  "Es zieht wie Hechtsuppe." (It's blowing like pike soup.)
Meaning: This means it's very windy.

7. "Ein alter Hase sein." (To be an old hare.)    
Meaning: To be experienced or skilled in a particular activity.

German Idioms

Idioms are a great way to improve fluency.An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase. Examples are to be "over the moon" (very happy), or to "see the light" (to realise something).They can be difficult to remember, but by learning them you will increase your vocabulary and your understanding of German culture.

1. "Das ist nicht mein Bier." (That's not my beer.)
Meaning: "That's not my problem".

2. Eine Schnecke sein." (To be a snail.)
Meaning: To be very slow or sluggish in doing something.

3. Jemandem auf den Keks gehen." (To go on someone's cookie.)
Meaning: To annoy or bother someone.

5.  "In die Suppe spucken." (To spit in the soup.)
Meaning: This means to ruin a good situation or opportunity.

6. "Auf der Leitung stehen." (To stand on the line.)
Meaning: This means to have a mental block or to be confused.

7. "Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer." (There lies the hare in the pepper.)
Meaning: That's the crux of the matter or the main point of the issue.

8. "Die Katze im Sack kaufen." (To buy the cat in the bag.)
Meaning: To make a purchase without inspecting the goods first, or to make a decision without knowing all the details.

9. "Wie ein Elefant im Porzellanladen." (Like an elephant in a china shop.)  
Meaning: To be clumsy or lacking finesse in a delicate situation.

10. "Die Fliegen mit Honig fangen. "(To catch flies with honey.)  
Meaning: To achieve something through kindness or a gentle approach.

11." Einen Bären aufbinden." (To tie a bear onto someone.)    
Meaning: To deceive or trick someone.

Easy German Words

German has a reputation for being difficult and for having long and complicated words. They do exist - die Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung (your sick certificate you must bring to work) is an example - but it does not have to be that way. Also in German the pronunciation is not as difficult as some other languages (cough cough, French). Here is a list of easy and basic German words that you can use.

der Mann (the man)

die Frau (the woman)

das Kind (the child)

gut (good)

groß (big)

klein (small)

schön (beautiful)

schnell (fast)

langsam (slow)

neu (new)

alt (old)

jung (young)

der Tisch (the table)

der Stuhl (the chair)

das Haus (the house)

die Stadt (the city)

der Weg (the way)

gehen (to go)

kommen (to come)

sehen (to see)

essen (to eat)

trinken (to drink)

schlafen (to sleep)

kaufen (to buy)

verkaufen (to sell)

die Blume (the flower)

der Baum (the tree)

die Sonne (the sun)

der Mond (the moon)

die Wolke (the cloud)

die Katze (the cat)

der Hund (the dog)

das Auto (the car)

die Farbe (the color)

rot (red)

blau (blue)

grün (green)

gelb (yellow)

die Zeit (the time)

jetzt (now)

später (later)

heute (today)

morgen (tomorrow)

Practice your spoken German in our online German speaking classes (5-day free trial).
The classes are fun and friendly - you'll meet new people and also talk to native speakers. We have classes every single day and new and interesting conversation themes for each ession. Give them a go!

I'm the founder of Deutsch Gym. In the past I've worked in startups as a marketer and frontend developer and surfed a few waves along the way. I moved to Berlin from Ireland a few years ago and learned German - prompting the idea for Deutsch Gym.
Join our free weekly newsletter: