How to start a Conversation in German

In Germany small talk is not so popular - but do not worry, it does not mean people don’t want to speak with you! It just means you need to know a few phrases to kickstart a conversation. 

Let's start from the start - saying hello. If you want to greet them try a Hallo, or Servus or Guten Tag. You can find all the ways you can greet someone in German in our blog post on Saying Hello in German and Saying Good Evening in German.

In English speaking countries people would say “How are you?” as a hello - that is not how it works in Germany. In Germany, you strictly ask that if you want to know how they are, not as a greeting.

But you are here because you want to go deeper than just a "hello"! You want to get to know them a bit, and start a bit of a back-and-forth conversation with them.

If you want to approach someone and ask them a question, you can say “Entschuldigung…” followed by your question. This simply means “excuse me”. They will be happy to engage with you then. 

Below are some common phrases that will help you approach people and start real conversations. 


Talking to someone in a public place.


Excuse me!

Wie ist dein Name?

What’s your name? 

Wie geht’s?
How are you?

Woher kommst du? 

Where are you from?

Was ist dein Beruf?

What do you do for a living?

Schreckliches Wetter, nicht wahr?

Terrible weather, isn’t it?

Das Wetter ist prima, oder? 

The weather is great, isn’t it?

Wo ist der Bahnhof?

Where is the train station? 


Talking to someone in a bar setting.

Hast du Feuer?

Do you have a lighter?

Das Kleid sieht toll an dir aus!

That dress looks good on you!

Möchtest du etwas trinken?

Would you like something to drink? 

Was ist deine Lieblingsband? 

What is your favourite band?

Was ist dein Lieblingsessen? 

What’s your favourite food?

Kannst du Bars in der Gegend empfehlen? 

Can you recommend bars around here?

Verfolgst du Fußball?

Do you follow football?

Hast du das Spiel gestern Abend gesehen?

Did you see that match last night? 

Dinner Party

Use these in situations where the conversation topics can go a bit deeper and more personal.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Bist du ein Katzenmensch oder ein Hundemensch?

Hast du dieses Wochenende etwas Aufregendes geplant?

Do you have anything exciting planned this weekend?

Wirst du dieses Jahr verreisen? 

Are you going traveling this year? 

Hast du Geschwister?

Do you have siblings? 

Welches war das letzte gute Buch, das du gelesen hast?

What was the last good book you read?

Hörst du dir Podcasts an? Was ist dein Lieblingspodcast? 

Do you listen to podcasts? What is your favourite podcast? 

Was ist deine Lieblingsstadt, die du besucht hast?

What's your favorite city you've visited?

Start a conversation and improve your confidence in our online German meetups (7-day free trial, all levels) or try our online intensive Business German course.

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.
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