In this lesson you'll learn the German alphabet and how to pronounce the German language. Pronunciation in German is fairly straightforward and spelling is fairly consistent. There are a few sounds that are not in English, which will require a bit of practice.

You'll also learn some useful German phrases to use when introducing yourself and greeting others.

German Alphabet

For the most part German is spelled the way it is pronounced. The following table shows the letters in the German alphabet, along with some guidelines on how to pronounce them.

A a (ah) Sounds like the a in father when followed by a single consonant. Otherwise between the a in bat and the u in but.
B b (bay) Pronounced as in English, except at the end of a word when it is pronounced like p.
C c (tsay) Pronounced like ts in cats. The combination ch is pronounced like a hard h when followed by a, o, or u. Otherwise it is pronounced somewhat like the h in huge. The combination sch is pronounced like sh in English. The combination ck is pronounced like k.
D d (day) Pronounced as in English, except at the end of a word when it is pronounced like t.
E e (ay) Pronounced like e in bed when followed by more than one consonant. If stressed and followed by a single consonant, like ay in day. If unstressed, like the a in pizza. Unlike in English, e is pronounced at the end of a word.
F f (eff) Pronounced as in English.
G g (gay) Pronounced like g in go. At the end of a work, it is pronounced like k. In the combination ig at the end of a word, the g is pronounced similar the h in huge.
H h (hah) Pronounced as in English. Silent in the combination eh when part of the same syllable.
I i (ee) Pronounced like i in bid when followed by more than one consonant. Otherwise like the ee in see. Note: The combinations ie and ih are also pronounced like the ee in see.
J j (yot) Pronounced like y in yes.
K k (kah) Pronounced as in English.
L l (ell) Pronounced as in English.
M m (em) Pronounced as in English.
N n (en) Pronounced as in English.
O o (oh) Pronounced like o in hope or o in hop.
P p (pay) Pronounced as in English.
Q q (koo) Always in the combination qu and pronounced like kv.
R r (err) Pronounced as in English. Many speakers pronounce r with a more gutteral sound. In some areas er at the end of a word is pronounced ah.
S s (ess) Before p and t pronounced like sh. At the beginning of a word or between vowels, pronounced like English z. Otherwise it is pronounced like s in best. The character ß represents a double s and is also pronounced like the s in best.
T t (tay) Pronounced as in English. The combination th is also pronounced like t.
U u (oo) Pronounced like oo in moon when followed by a single consonant. Pronounced like the u in put when followed by more than one consonant.
V v (fow) Pronounced like the f in few.
W w (vay) Pronounced like English v.
X x (iks) Pronounced like ks.
Y y (ewpsillon) Pronounced as in English.
Z z (tset) Pronounced like ts in cats.

Vowel Combinations

au Pronounced like the ou in house.
ei Pronounced like the i in find.
eu Pronounced like the oy in toy.
ie Pronounced like the ee in deep.


ä Pronounced like the a in day or like the e in bed when followed by two or more consonants.
ö This sound is not in English. Pronounced similar to the u in fur.
ü This sound is not in English. Pronounced similar to u in new.

German Phrases

Here are some German phrases to use when introducing yourself and greeting others. Listen to the phrases to get a sense of how German is pronounced, then practice speaking them.

If you take the time to memorize the phrases in the German Phrases sections of this course, it will go a long way towards helping you speak and understand German.

Sound Hallo. Hello.
Sound Auf Wiedersehen. Goodbye.
Sound Tschüss! Bye!
Sound Guten Morgen. Good morning.
Sound Guten Abend. Good evening.
Sound Gute Nacht. Good night.
Sound Wie heißen Sie? What is your name?
Sound Ich heiße ___. My name is ___.
Sound Freut mich Sie kennen zu lernen. Nice to meet you.
Sound Wie geht's? How's it going?
Sound Bis später. See you later.
Sound Vielen Dank. Thanks a lot.
Sound Das ist großartig! That's great!
Sound Keine Sorge! Don't worry!


Cognates are words that have a common origin. German and English share many cognates and recognizing these words will make learning German easier. Some of them are easy to recognize, while others have been obscured by changes in pronunciation in both German and English.

The meanings of the following words should be fairly easy to guess: komm, Gras, Sand, in, bring, Arm, Hand, Finger, und, hier. Notice that German nouns are always capitalized.

Sound Changes

The letter t in German is often d in English (Brot -> bread, gut -> good, trink -> drink).

The letter g in German is often y or i in English (Tag -> day, regen -> rain).

The letter b in German is often f or v in English (halb -> half, sieben -> seven, Silber -> silver).

The letter d in German is often th in English (denk -> think, danke -> thanks, Bad -> bath).

The letters s, ts, and ß are often t in English (Wasser -> water, was -> what, Netz -> net, daß -> that).

The letters f and pf in German are often p in English (offen -> open, Pfeffer -> pepper, Apfel -> apple).



This section contains flashcards to help you learn the German words and phrases introduced in this lesson.

Read German

Read and listen to the following conversation between Elias and Hannah.


Elias: Hallo! Ich heiße Elias. Wie heißen Sie?

Hannah: Ich heiße Hannah. Freut mich Sie kennen zu lernen.

Elias: Auch schön Sie kennenzulernen. Wohnen Sie hier in der Gegend?

Hannah: Nein, ich bin im Urlaub. Ich wohne in Bremen.

Elias: Wie lange sind Sie hier?

Hannah: Noch eine Woche.

Elias: Genießen Sie Ihren Urlaub.

Hannah: Vielen Dank. Tschüss!


Elias: Hi! My name is Elias. What's your name?

Hannah: My name is Hannah. Nice to meet you.

Elias: Nice to meet you too. Do you live around here?

Hannah: No, I am on vacation. I live in Bremen.

Elias: How long are you here for?

Hannah: One more week.

Elias: Enjoy your vacation.

Hannah: Thanks. bye!