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

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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.

Learning German Vocabulary With Babbel

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

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