German Language Blog

Writing the letters “ä”, “ö”, and “ü” without a German keyboard Posted by on Dec 13, 2010 in Grammar, Language

There are three letters in German that do not exist in English. These are the Umlaute (umlauts) “ä”, “ö”, and “ü”. Although these letters do not exist in the alphabet, they play an important role in writing. Unfortunately, Umlaute cannot be found on all keyboards but there is no need to worry about that, seeing that there is a straightforward rule how to write them without the necessary keys on your keyboard.

Alternatively, the two dots above the letters “a”, “o”, and “u” can be represented by the letter “e”. All you have to do is to put the “e” behind the “a”, “o”, and/or “u”. Compare:

ä = ae

ö = oe

ü = ue

Admittedly, in some cases this looks very strange, e.g. BräucheBraeuche (costumes) and BäucheBaeuche (bellies).

Nevertheless, you should get used to this alternative writing in order to make sure that the addressee of your writing will understand you correctly. Sometimes an Umlaut can change the meaning of a word. Compare:

drucken = to print and drücken = to press

auslosen = to draw lots for and auslösen = to trigger off

Here are some random examples, so that you can see how words with Umlaute will look like when they are written in the alternative way. Additionally, I provide the articles. You will find the English translation in parentheses.

die Länge = Laenge (length)

der Fächer = Faecher (fan)

die Börse = Boerse (money market)

die Lösung = Loesung (solution)

die Tür = Tuer (door)

der Schlüssel = Schluessel (key)

die Brücke = Bruecke (bridge)

die Lüge = Luege (lie)

die Blüte = Bluete (blossom)

für = fuer (for)

müssen = muessen (must, need to , have to)

können = koennen (could)

Bücher = Buecher (books) [das Buch; sgl.]

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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. Private:

    Alt + (num pad) 0252= ü (type zero)
    Alt + 225 (no zero) or 0223 = ß
    Alt + 0246 = ö
    Alt + 0228 = ä
    Alt + 0196 = Ä
    Alt + 0214 = Ö
    Alt + 0220 = Ü

    ß, ö, ä & ü are German heritage. Maybe some of you love German more than me but I would stick to those German special characters

  2. Michelle Kyle:

    Here’s another way:

    ä alt 0228 Ä alt 0196
    ö alt 0246 Ö alt 0214
    ü alt 0252 Ü alt 0220
    « alt 0171 » alt 0187
    ß alt 0223

  3. Private:

    Use German keyboard with no key shortcuts, just like Germans at

    For Windows XP:

    For Mac:

    Download, unzip, open readme.htm file
    P.S. WinRar software or Winzip is required to extract the files

  4. B R Gustafson:

    If you have access to the internet, I’ve always found this site to be hands down best when it comes to German characters, among others.