German Language Blog

Tricky German Pronunciation Part 2 (With Audio) Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 in Language

Guten Tag! This is part 2 of a requested post (please find part 1 here). Following my posts ‘German Words You Don’t Want To Mix Up’ parts 1 and 2, a lot of people were interested in a post with audio clips of words and sounds that look similar, but are very different.

Sometimes in German, when we mispronounce a word, we end up unintentionally saying a completely different world altogether – and some of those mix-ups can be quite funny and/or embarrassing! My first post focused on words using the Umlaut. This one will focus on other aspects of pronunciation, including the German ‘ch’ sound and the ‘ie’ and ‘ei’ sounds. I will use the examples given in my posts German Words You Don’t Want To Mix Up and German Words You Definitely Don’t Want To Mix Up!, along with a few others, so you can hear how the similar words sound, and how to pronounce them yourselves.

This cat is your inspiration for making the German ‘ch’ sound. Image via Pixabay.

The German ‘ch’ sound

The ‘ch’ sound in German is often mispronounced as a hard ‘ck’ sound, but it is actually soft, almost like a cat hissing (note: some dialects do pronounce it as a ‘ck’ sound). Here is the example from my previous post:

Nackt (naked) vs. Nacht (night)

Listen to the difference:

A Nachttisch (bedside table) – or a ‘Nackttisch’ (‘naked table’)? Image via Pixabay.



Getting letters the wrong way round: ei vs. ie

Schießen (shooting). Definitely not Scheißen (shitting). Image via Pixabay.


These vowel combinations are fairly straight-forward. ‘ei’ is pronounced like the English letter ‘I’, while ‘ie’ is pronounced like the English letter ‘E’. But muddling them up in speech could lead to funny errors such as:

Scheißen (shitting) vs. Schießen (shooting)

Listen to the difference:


The importance of pronouncing the letter combinations the right way round is also shown in the following example:

Brüste (breasts) vs. Bürste (brush)

Listen to the difference:


One final example from my ‘Words You Don’t Want To Mix Up’ posts, but which doesn’t fall into any of these categories, is:

Uhren (watches) vs. Huren (whores)

Listen to the difference:

Uhren. ‘Ooooh-ren.’ Image via Pixabay.


I hope this has been helpful, and I also hope you see the funny side to it! Mistakes are a natural part of language learning, so if you ever do muddle any of these words up I hope it will not put you off trying again. Can you think of any more examples of similar words with different pronunciations? Are there any letter combinations you are struggling to pronounce? If you find this type of post useful, let me know and leave any suggestions you might have for similar, future posts. And make sure you check out part 1 if you haven’t already!

Bis bald!


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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Catherine Gosling:

    The choices of words you have used for this post means that I can no longer recommend it for our secondary students because of words like Sheissen and Huren. What were you thinking?

    • Constanze:

      @Catherine Gosling It is directly related to a post I made previously about similar-sounding words with different meanings, wherein one of the words is an ‘innocent’ word and the other is a ‘rude’ one. I made it to help people avoid making the mistake of saying the ‘rude’ word when they are trying to say the ‘innocent’ one. Thanks.