German Language Blog

Talking about occupations Posted by on Nov 17, 2010 in Language

People are often identified by what they do for a living. When you want to ask in German what someone’s occupation is, you have different options to ask that question:

Formal language Informal language
Was machen Sie beruflich?

Was sind Sie von Beruf?

Was ist Ihr Beruf?

Was machst Du beruflich?

Was bist Du von Beruf?

Was ist Dein Beruf?

You simply reply:

“Ich bin …” = “I am a …”  and insert the occupation you carry out, e.g. “Ich bin Student/in” (I am a student) or “Ich bin Lehrer/in” (I am a teacher). Please note that you do not need an indefinite article here (ein, eine). Literally, you just say I am student and I am teacher, respectively.

Unlike English, in German you can always identify the gender of the people in their occupations. Usually, you add the suffix –in to the masculine noun in order to indicate that the person who carries out that profession is a woman. Additionally, you need to apply the corresponding article when it is necessary. Here is a list of some occupations:

Males Females
der Arzt

der Dolmetscher

der Fotograf

der Lehrer

der Verkäufer

der Kellner

der Polizist

der Dozent

der Schauspieler

der Postbote

die Ärztin

die Dolmetscherin

die Fotografin

die Lehrerin

die Verkäuferin

die Kellnerin

die Polizistin

die Dozentin

die Schauspielerin

die Postbotin






waiter; waitress

policeman; policewoman


actor; actress

mailman; mailwoman

And now it is your turn. People in their occupations use a variety of tools or implements to carry out their daily work. Match the occupations in the left column with the tools in the right column. Good luck!

1. Polizist/in

2. Fotograf/in

3. Arzt/Ärztin

4. Dozent/in

5. Postbote/Postbotin

6. Dolmetscher/in

7. Schauspieler/in

8. Verkäufer/in

9. Lehrer/in

10. Kellner/in

a. Serviertablett

b. Brief

c. Bühne

d. Handschellen

e. Wörterbuch

f. Stethoskop

g. Fotoapparat

h. Lehrbuch

i. Kasse

j. Hörsaal


1-d, 2-g, 3-f, 4-j, 5-b, 6-e, 7-c, 8-i, 9-h, 10-a


(Stethoskop – stethoscope; Wörterbuch – dictionary; Fotoapparat – camera; Lehrbuch – textbook; Kasse – cash register; Serviertablett – serving tray; Handschellen – handcuffs; Hörsaal – lecture hall; Bühne – stage, Brief – letter)

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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. Alireza Mohazzab:

    Hi dear Sandra,
    I’ve been an English teacher in Iran for almost 20 years. I have a great interest to learn German and so far I have been practicing it for a while. I’d appreciate your helping me.