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German Vocabulary

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Getting to know German vocabulary is an essential part of learning the German language.

woman learning spanish vocabulary

Along with German grammar, German vocabulary is the most important skill to know when you’re learning German. After all, you can’t actually use a new language without knowing the words, expressions and phrases that make up that language! The more German vocabulary you know, the more you’re able to talk about everything in your world — from what you do for work to your hobbies to your favorite colors and foods to the weather outside and everything in between.

Keep reading below to learn more about German vocabulary, or skip ahead to learn some of the most important German vocabulary words to get you started with the German language.

The Roots Of German Vocabulary

German is a member of the Germanic language family, which means it is closely related to other Germanic languages like Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and English.

Because English and German share a common language ancestor, an English speaker will have some advantages when it comes to learning German vocabulary, as many of the words sound the same in both languages. These words are called cognates, and you’ll easily be able to figure out their meanings because they look and sound so similar to English words with the same meaning. For example, take a guess at the meaning of the verbs schwimmen, bringen and lernen or the nouns Finger, Hand, Haus or Garten without needing to consult a German dictionary. Not too hard to translate back to English, right?

One other interesting element of German vocabulary is that German is a language full of compound words. That means you can combine two German vocabulary words to create an even longer word with a more complex meaning. For example, the word der Kühlschrank is composed of the word kühl, meaning “cool,” and Schrank, meaning “wardrobe.” So a Kühlschrank is a “cool wardrobe,” a funny way of describing what English speakers would call a “refrigerator.”

 

 

This means that in many cases, if you see a really long German word you don’t recognize, you can try to figure out its meaning by separating it into its constituent parts.

How Can I Improve My German Vocabulary?

There’s no right or wrong way to practice German vocabulary. The most important thing is that you find a way that works for you and helps you remember words and phrases when you need them most in conversation, writing or any other context.

Many people find it helpful to practice German vocabulary with flashcards. The typical German flashcard has an English word on one side and the German translation on the other, but you can write anything on either side of the cards — from definitions to example sentences using the word you’re learning.

Online learning sites like Quizlet are great for studying German vocabulary. When you use Quizlet German flashcards or the platform’s other games and tools, you can boost your memory retention and word recall, hone your spelling skills and practice German vocabulary in interactive, engaging ways.

Some people like to practice German vocabulary in more real-world ways. You might have heard of the sticky note method, where learners write the German word for items in their kitchens or living rooms on sticky notes, for example, and post them on those items to help them make the association with the German vocabulary word each time they look at or use that item. You can expand the system to label nearly everything in your home and to put notes of words you want to learn where you’re sure to see them, like on your shower door or on your ceiling above your bed for extra practice. This can be a really helpful German learning strategy for people who like to learn visually!

You can also recruit someone else to help you study German vocabulary. Have a friend, roommate or partner quiz you on word definitions and translations from a list you prepare. If you’re both learning German, challenge each other to review one list of vocabulary every day, and if one of you fails or falls behind, that friend owes the other a drink or a coffee, for example. Or point out different objects in your environment to each other and see who can name the most items in German without consulting a dictionary or other resource. There are so many ways to practice German vocabulary with another person, whether they’re learning German or not!

The most effective way to remember German vocabulary is to focus on the words and expressions that interest you the most instead of wasting time on vocabulary you find boring or will never actually use. You can tailor your German vocabulary to your careers, hobbies, passions and everyday experiences and fill in the gaps where you want more words. This could include German for business or the medical profession. Or perhaps you like talking about sports, the entertainment industry or politics. You can create your own specialized German vocabulary depending on what’s important to you in your learning journey.

   

Most Common German Vocabulary — Essential German Vocabulary Words By Topic

Get started with the basics of German vocabulary by checking out these themed lists of some of the most common German vocabulary words and phrases below!

Common German Phrases And Conversational German Vocabulary

From saying hello to introducing yourself to asking for the bathroom, you’ll want to know how to make a conversation run smoothly — whether you’re on an international adventure or just chatting up your new German-speaking friend. Here’s some essential conversational German vocabulary to get you started.

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Looking for more of the most common German phrases and expressions for conversation? Click to learn more about useful common German phrases and conversational German vocabulary!

 

Colors In German

Roses are rot, violets are blau; here’s a guide to master German colors right now! Here’s an overview of all the colors in der Regenbogen (the rainbow) and the must-know German color vocabulary.

  • red — rot
  • orange — orange
  • yellow — gelb
  • green — grün
  • blue — blau
  • purple — lila
  • pink — rosa
  • brown — braun
  • black — schwarz
  • white — weiß

 

Want to learn all the colors in German? Click to learn more German color vocabulary!

 

Numbers In German

Learning numbers in German will help you do everything from buying goods at the local supermarket to giving a cute stranger your phone number. Though there are some tricky rules governing how to count in German, with practice, it can be as easy as eins, zwei, drei! Learn the basics of German number vocabulary below:

  • zero — null
  • one — eins
  • two — zwei
  • three — drei
  • four — vier
  • five — fünf
  • six — sechs
  • seven — sieben
  • eight — acht
  • nine — neun

 

  • ten — zehn
  • eleven — elf
  • twelve — zwölf
  • thirteen — dreizehn
  • fourteen — vierzehn
  • fifteen — fünfzehn
  • sixteen — sechzehn
  • seventeen — siebzehn
  • eighteen — achtzehn
  • nineteen — neunzehn

 

  • twenty — zwanzig
  • thirty — dreißig
  • forty — vierzig
  • fifty — fünfzig
  • sixty — sechzig
  • seventy — siebzig
  • eighty — achtzig
  • ninety — neunzig
  • one hundred — einhundert

 

Click to learn more about numbers in German and the rules about how to use them with this helpful guide to German numbers vocabulary!

 

German Food Vocabulary

Whether you’re deciphering a menu in a German-speaking country or following the steps of your favorite recipe, you’ll want to know German food and drink vocabulary. Here are some basics to get you started:

  • to eat — essen
  • to drink — trinken

 

food in spanish town

 
  • the starter — die Vorspeise
  • the main dish — die Hauptspeise
  • the side dish — die Beilage
  • the dessert — die Nachspeise

 

  • the meat — das Fleisch
  • the beef — das Rindfleisch
  • the pork — das Schweinefleisch
  • the poultry — das Geflügel
  • the fish — der Fisch
  • the seafood — die Meeresfrüchte
  • the vegetables — das Gemüse
  • the fruit — das Obst
  • the potato — die Kartoffel
  • the cheese — der Käse
  • the bread — das Brot

 

  • the drink — das Getränk
  • the water — das Wasser
  • the juice — der Saft
  • the coffee — der Kaffee
  • the milk — die Milch
  • the wine — der Wein
  • the beer — das Bier
  • the tea — der Tee

 

Want to be able to talk about all types of food and drink in German? Click to learn more German food vocabulary.

 

Animals In German

Whether you’re scared of spiders or a regular swimmer with the sharks, you can’t get by without knowing how to talk about animals in German. Check out this German animal vocabulary to help you talk about the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it:

  • the pet — das Haustier
  • the fur — das Fell
  • the farm animal — das Nutztier
  • the sea creature — das Meerestier
  • the wild animal — das Wildtier
  • the fish — der Fisch
  • the dog — der Hund
  • the cat — die Katze
  • the mouse — die Maus
  • the rabbit — das Kaninchen
  • the duck — die Ente
  • the chicken — das Huhn
  • the cow — die Kuh
  • the pig — das Schwein
  • the sheep — das Schaf
  • the goat — die Ziege
  • the horse — das Pferd
  • the elephant — der Elefant
  • the bird — der Vogel
  • the penguin — der Pinguin
  • the parrot — der Papagei
  • the owl — die Eule
  • the ostrich — der Strauß
  • the dolphin — der Delfin
  • the octopus — der Oktopus
  • the bear — der Bär
  • the wolf — der Wolf
  • the crocodile — das Krokodil
  • the snake — die Schlange
  • the frog — der Frosch
  • the giraffe — die Giraffe

 

To get to know more names of the animals in German, click to learn more German animal vocabulary!

 

Parts Of The Body In German

From your head to your shoulders to your knees to your toes, your body is a part of your everyday experience. So there’s no question you should learn German body part vocabulary; it’s a no-brainer. (Cue the eye roll.) Check out some important words below:

 

legs hanging off pier
 
  • the body part — der Körperteil
  • the body — der Körper
  • the face — das Gesicht

 

  • the foot — der Fuß
  • the arm — der Arm
  • the hand — die Hand
  • the head — der Kopf
  • the finger — der Finger
  • the legs — das Bein
  • the knee — das Knie
  • the neck — der Hals
  • the back — der Rücken
  • the stomach — der Bauch

 

  • the eyes — die Augen
  • the mouth — der Mund
  • the nose — die Nase
  • the ear — das Ohr
  • the tooth — der Zahn

 

Learn all you need to know about the parts of the body in German. Click to learn more about German body part vocabulary!

 

Feelings And Emotions In German

It can be tough to talk about your feelings in your native language, let alone a foreign one. But you know how to talk about moods, feelings and emotions in German, you’ll have the right words to express yourself when you’re happy, sad, angry and everything in between. Here’s some essential German emotions vocabulary to get you started:

  • the emotion — die Emotion
  • the feeling — das Gefühl
  • the mood — die Laune
  • happy — glücklich
  • sad — traurig
  • excited — begeistert
  • angry — wütend
  • depressed — deprimiert
  • lonely — einsam
  • satisfied — zufrieden
  • proud — stolz
  • upset — aufgebracht
  • disappointed — enttäuscht
  • nervous — nervös
  • tired — müde

 

  • the joy — die Freude
  • the love — die Liebe
  • the hate — der Hass
  • the hope — die Hoffnung
  • the sympathy — das Mitgefühl
  • the hunger — der Hunger
  • the thirst — der Durst
  • the pain — der Schmerz
  • the fear — die Angst

 

  • I like you. — Ich mag dich.
  • I love you. — Ich liebe dich.
  • I am in a good mood today. — Ich habe heute gute Laune.
  • I’m afraid. — Ich habe Angst!
  • Why are you sad? — Warum bist du traurig?
  • I am so unhappy. — Ich bin so unglücklich!

 

Click to learn more about German feelings and emotions vocabulary!

 

Hobbies In German

If you like to spend time doing something in your free time, you should learn how to talk about it! Filling your German vocabulary with expressions that let you speak passionately about your interests and hobbies will help you add some personal flair to your German repertoire. Here’s some German hobbies vocabulary you might want to know:

  • the book — das Buch
  • the theater — das Theater
  • the play — das Stück
  • the musical — das Musical
  • the film — der Film

 

woman playing guitar
 
  • the painting — das Gemälde
  • the museum — das Museum
  • the photography — die Fotografie
  • the gallery — die Galerie
  • the photo — das Foto
  • the drawing — die Zeichnung

 

  • the music — die Musik
  • the instrument — das Instrument
  • the guitar — die Gitarre
  • the piano — das Klavier

 

  • the game — das Spiel
  • the puzzle — das Geduldsspiel
  • the chess — das Schach
  • the card — die Karte
  • the video game — das Videospiel
  • the board games — das Brettspiel

 

  • the sport — der Sport
  • the soccer — der Fußball
  • the gymnasium — das Fitnessstudio
  • the team — die Mannschaft

 

  • to play — spielen
  • to go shopping — einkaufen gehen
  • to eat out — essen gehen
  • to sing — singen
  • to read — lesen
  • to dance — tanzen
  • to paint — malen

 

  • What do you do in your free time? — Was machst du in deiner Freizeit?
  • Do you have any hobbies? — Hast du Hobbys?
  • Do you play an instrument? — Spielst du ein Instrument?
  • I like to listen to my music very loud. — Ich höre gerne sehr laut Musik.
  • Do you like going to the theater? — Gehst du gern ins Theater?
  • I learn dancing in a dance course. — Ich lerne in einem Tanzkurs tanzen.
  • I love going to restaurants. — Ich liebe es, ins Restaurant zu gehen..

 

Want to know how to talk about all your different hobbies in German? Click to learn more about German hobbies vocabulary!

 

German Travel Vocabulary

When you’re ready to take your German on the go on your next vacation around the world, you’ll need some German travel vocabulary to help get you there. Make the most of your next adventure with these vocabulary terms to talk about vacations, transportation and travel in German:

  • the plane — das Flugzeug
  • the airport — der Flughafen
  • the terminal — das Terminal
  • the luggage — das Gepäck
  • the hand luggage — das Handgepäck
  • the departure — der Abflug
  • the flight — der Flug
  • the security check — die Sicherheitskontrolle
  • the connection — der Anschluss
  • the gate — der Flugsteig

 

  • the public transportation — der öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel
  • the bus — der Bus
  • the train — der Zug
  • the train station — der Bahnhof
  • the stop — die Haltestelle
  • the ticket — die Fahrkarte
  • the subway — die U-Bahn
  • the tram — die Straßenbahn
  • the passenger — der Fahrgast
  • the timetable — der Fahrplan

 

  • the car — das Auto
  • the driver — der Fahrer (m.)/die Fahrerin (f.)
  • the bicycle — das Fahrrad
  • the cyclist — der Radfahrer (m.)/die Radfahrerin (f.)
  • the tire — der Reifen
  • the helmet — der Helm
  • the steering wheel — das Lenkrad
  • the brake — die Bremse
  • the gears — der Gang
  • the driver’s license — der Führerschein

 

  • to drive — fahren
  • to park — parken
  • to ride — fahren
  • to land — landen
  • to check in — einchecken
  • to board — an Bord gehen

 

Be better equipped to travel in German by clicking to learn more about German travel and transportation vocabulary!

 

Weather In German

There’s no better way to small talk than to chat about the weather. So when you’re looking to shoot the breeze in German, look no further than German weather vocabulary. Here are some words and terms you should know to talk about the weather in German:

  • the weather — das Wetter
  • the weather forecast — die Wettervorhersage
  • the climate — das Klima
  • the degree — das Grad
  • tropical — tropisch
  • temperate — gemäßigt
  • cloudy — bewölkt

 

spanish weather
 
  • the sunlight — das Sonnenlicht
  • the rain — der Regen
  • the cloud — die Wolke
  • the snow — der Schnee
  • the wind — der Wind
  • the storm — der Sturm
  • the thunder — der Donner
  • the lightning — der Blitz

 

  • the season — die Jahreszeit
  • the spring — der Frühling
  • the summer — der Sommer
  • the autumn — der Herbst
  • the winter — der Winter

 

  • the natural disaster — die Naturkatastrophe
  • the earthquake — das Erdbeben
  • the tsunami — der Tsunami
  • the flood — die Überschwemmung
  • the drought — die Dürre
  • the fire — der Brand

 

  • What is the weather like? — Wie ist das Wetter?
  • The sun is shining. — Die Sonne scheint.
  • The sky is cloudy. — Der Himmel ist bewölkt.
  • It stopped raining. — Der Regen hat aufgehört.
  • It was snowing all day. — Es hat den ganzen Tag schneit.

 

Click to learn more about German weather vocabulary!

   

Learning German Vocabulary With Babbel

woman on phone learning german vocabulary

Babbel makes learning and practicing German vocabulary easy, interactive and fun. Our German learning content is designed by language experts and teachers who know the best methods to build your German vocabulary skills and make sure they stick.

A variety of speaking, writing, reading and listening exercises reinforce all the elements of language learning so you’ll be ready to use the terms you’re learning in different situations.

Babbel lessons introduce new words and expressions in stages, focusing on vocabulary that applies in conversations with actual native speakers — not nonsensical or impractical words that you’ll never use. Almost every Babbel German lesson features a simulated dialogue that lets you use what you’ve learned in real-life contexts.

The Review feature brings back German vocabulary words from earlier lessons when you’re most at risk of forgetting them, helping you strengthen your word recall skills with interactive flashcard and spelling exercises.

Ready to get started learning German vocabulary? Try a free German lesson!

   

Check out our other learning topics about German:
Learn German
German Grammar
German Phrases
Best Way To Learn German
How To Speak German