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Starting a conversation in German Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 in Language

The best way to learn German, or any other language, is using it in communicative situations, i.e. face-to-face situations. So, do not wait to speak German until you have learned some more grammar, but use every opportunity to speak German to test you newly acquired language skills.


Formal Greetings and Salutations




Guten Tag. gew-tuhn tahk Hello.
Ich heiße … iH hay-suh My name is …
Wie heißen Sie? vee hay-suhn zee What is your name?
Danke, sehr gut. dAn-kuh, zeyR gewt Thank you, very well.
Danke, nicht schlecht. dAn-kuh, niHt shleHt Thank you, not bad.
Danke, es geht so. dAn-kuh, es gewt zo Thank you, so so.
Mir geht’s gut. meeR gayts gewt I’m fine.


Cultural differences

Americans often ask “How are you?”, which is rather an extension of a greeting. But when you ask a German “Wie geht es Ihnen?” (formal) or “Wie geht es dir?” (informal) they would rather take that question literally and probably tell you the story of their life. Fortunately, most Germans can ‘deal’ with that question and often respond with a simple “Mir geht’s gut”.


Informal Greetings and Salutations




Hallo! hA-lo Hi!
Ich heiße … iH hay-suh My name is …
Wie heißt du? vee hayst dew What is your name?
Wie geht’s? vee gayts How are you?
Wie geht’s dir? vee gayts deeR How is it going with you?
Was machst du so? vAs maHst dew zo What’s up?
Ganz gut. gAns gewt Okay.
Ich kann nicht klagen. iH kAn niHt kla-guhn I can’t complain.


German “Guten Tag” and English “Hello”

In American or British English, there is no equivalent for German “Guten Tag” (lit. good day). In English, you would rather opt for the expression “Hello”. But German “Hallo” is rather informal, thus, it is not a good idea to greet someone with “Hallo” in a rather official situation. In informal situations you can also use “Hi” to greet someone.

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Aishah:

    i have an assigmnent to do related with conversation and dialogues in german.i want to ask for your help whether if you have one of the examples of informal conversation in german.hope you can help me with my assignment.i really need it ASAP! thank you..

  2. esmail:

    I think this is a great opportunity and I also to tell him every body try to learn every language in the world because itisvery important for you

  3. Leena Soinde:

    It is good to know these simple sentence to get introduced with language in easy way. I would like to thanks Sandra for these efforts.