German Language Blog

This Is How German Letters Sound Posted by on Dec 12, 2019 in Grammar, Language

When you learn a new language, it is sometimes hard to get the pronunciation just right. You’re met with a blank stare, the native has no clue what you’re trying to communicate. Sure, you could try describing it, but what if you know the word, know how it’s written, but just not really how to say it? Well, then you can simply buchstabieren (to spell) the word! Here’s how those Buchstaben (letters) sound in German!

Are you looking for the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…) instead? We got you covered!

The Sound of German Buchstaben

The German Alphabet in writing. This is a version from the DDR (GDR, East Germany) of 1958. As you can see, the ß has an odd placement, next to the s. It is often also put at the very end, after the special umlauts. Also note how the ß is not present in the alphabet for capital letters here. This has recently changed, where the ß has gained a capital version: (Image by Perhelion at, public domain).

The Alphabet (alphabet) is useful in any language – especially if you know how to say each individual letter! Here it is:

As you can see, the German Alphabet has four extra characters compared to the English one – äöü and ß. The umlauts are regular letters in German, and are also used as such. You can find them on any version of a German computer Tastatur (keyboard) on the right of the L and P. The Esszett can also not be missing, and so it is also included at the end.

Here’s a little practice round for you to try and see if you can buchstabieren the words!

Hallo! Ich suche Eichhörnchen, die ich fotografieren möchte.

– Entschuldigung, was suchen Sie? Ich habe Sie nicht verstanden.


– Eicheln?

Nein. Ich buchstabiere es mal: E-I-C-H-H-Ö-R-N-C-H-E-N.

– Ach, Eichhörnchen! Ja, die finden Sie bestimmt im Stadtpark. Viel Erfolg!

(Hi! I am looking for squirrels, who I want to take pictures of.

– Excuse me, what are you looking for? I didn’t understand you.


– acorns?

No. I’ll spell it: S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L-S.

– Oh, squirrels! Yes, I am sure you can find them in the city park. Good luck!)

Did this help you? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. m:

    Although I am several years into studying the German language, I still confuse the pronunciation of der Buschstabe “e” with “i”. Any suggestions? My brain on German …lol!

    • Sten:

      @m Hi!

      Haha, I can understand that, they’re pretty similar! It could help to exaggerate the pronunciation. What I notice myself is that with the “e”, I tend to widen my cheeks, like I am smiling, whereas for the “i”, I can feel the muscles in my throat moving more vertically.
      Perhaps this sentence can help:
      Kleben die Stifte neben den Wiegen? (Do the pens stick next to the cradles?) – doesn’t make any sense, but it gives you some of those sounds!

  2. Anne:

    Very intreseting Blog 🙂