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A Few German Words You Can’t Go Without Posted by on Sep 24, 2016 in Culture, Language, listening, Practice, vocabulary

Who doesn’t like travelling? I think we all do! And we all want to make a good impression on the natives. A good way to do that is by speaking some of their words! If you are a beginner in German, and you just want to have some short, but important words, then look no further!




No matter what country you visit, the locals will always appreciate you trying to speak their language – even, or maybe especially, if it is just a few words! Of course it is then good to know some words you can use. Below some useful and common words that you will use everyday. Enjoy!


Guten Tag

Good Day / Hello

A word that you cannot go without. You have to say hello to people you say, and Guten Tag is a good way to start a conversation. Depending on the time of the day, Guten Morgen (good morning), Guten Abend (good evening) and Gute Nacht (good night) are used. In the afternoon, Guten Tag is a good word to use.

In the north-west of Germany, the word moin is used too for hi, throughout the day. You can use it in formal and informal conversations, so it is pretty versatile. However, outside that region, people may frown upon hearing moin, so it won’t get you through the entire country!

Mahlzeit (meal time) is used especially in western Germany and Austria around lunch time (noon – around 2PM) and mostly at work, when having food there, for example. In northern Germany, it may even be used throughout the day. It is a way to say hello and to wish people Guten Appetit (enjoy your meal) at the same time. It is informal, and is preferably used when you know the people you are greeting.

Hallo is not only used when meeting somebody, but also on the phone. Among youth, hey or hi (pronounced the same as in English) are common.


Auf Wiedersehen / Tschüss

Goodbye / Bye

Auf Wiedersehen (until another time) is quite formal, and is not used in informal conversations. If you go to a shop, you can definitely say it, though, and it is likely that they will tell you auf Wiedersehen.

More common, also used informally, is tschüss (bye) or forms of this like tschau (like the Italian ciao pronounced in a Germany way).

Other popular ways to say bye are bis dann (Until then), bis später (see you later) and bis gleich (see you in a bit).



Please / Here you go

Bitte is used as “please”, in for example “ein Brot, bitte” (one bread, please). However, unlike English, it is also used if you give something, as in “here you go”.

In the context of “here you go”, you can also use bitteschön or bitte sehr.


Gern geschehen

You’re welcome

Gern geschehen is used if you did something for somebody, and that person thanks you for it. As in “you’re welcome”. In this context you can also say keine Ursache, kein Problem, (both mean no problem) or something less formal like aber klar doch! (but of course!/sure!)



Thanks / Thank you

Danke is a very easy way to say thank you. And it is an important word! Often used are also Danke sehr / Vielen Dank (thanks a lot). Rather rare are longer forms like Ich danke Ihnen (I thank you).


Es tut mir Leid

I’m sorry


Something happens and you have to apologize. Das / Es tut mir Leid! (I apologize for that/it!) will do the job. Less common, but still universally understood is simply sorry, which you may also pronounce in a German way (short o, hard r’s).


Entschuldigung / Entschuldigen Sie

Sorry / Excuse me


Somebody is standing in the way and you want to pass? Entschuldigen Sie does the job. Entschuldigung is a little less formal, but totally fine. You are already being polite by saying it, anyway 😉


I hope this little list helps you, and if you have words or expressions to add that I forgot about – let me know in the comments!

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About the Author:Sten

Hi! I am Sten, and I am half Dutch and half German. I was on exchange in the United States, and I really enjoyed that year! So in that sense, I kind of have three nationalities... I love all of them!


  1. alcazar:

    Nice article.
    Is that your voice in the sample files? 😉

  2. oriella:

    Thank you! very useful!
    I never heard “moin” but my friends in Bavaria say “Servus” is it the same?
    What about “Verzeihung”? I studied it at school, a loooong time ago…. is it still in use or has it been replaced by Entschuldigung?

  3. yaldez Hashem:

    Thanks, useful words. Hope to have similar expressions for ordering in arestaurant, buying food , or asking about an address or in the railway station, etc.