100 Common German Words You Need to Know

Photo of author
Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

If you want to learn German it is a good idea to know which words you will use the most.

The tactic of learning the most common 100 words of a language is popular because it helps to build a strong foundation for your future language learning, no matter what language you are learning.

If you can learn and understand the most common words in German then you will be well on your way to mastering the language. 

Below we break down 100 of the most common German words and give examples of how they are used. 

Remember to read to the end of the guide where we will go over several ways you can put these words into practice and thus solidify them in your memory. 

Why learn the most used German words first? 

Learning a language when you know none of the words is tricky and German is no different.

Grammar rules, verb conjugations and sentence structures mean nothing when you don’t even know what the words in a sentence mean. 

Knowing vocabulary is half the battle when learning a language as it enables you to form sentences and talk with others. 

The 100 most common words are understandably a great starting point since these are the words you will hear and read the most when out and about. Therefore these are the words you will be using the most. 

Learning fundamental words and phrases like the days of the week, the months of the year or even the colors is vitally important to learning a language. 

However, the most commonly spoken German words are words you may not even think to search for but are vital to forming sentences and forming proper conversational phrases. 

These common words signify important things like when and where things occur and who they occur to. 

These small but significant German words can change the whole meaning of a sentence and so if you focus your studies on these common German words you will be able to understand, read and hear a much greater amount of German from the get-go. 

Read  Ways To Say What In German

So let’s get started! 

100 most used German words

To make it easier to digest and understand, we have broken this list of 100 words into groups such as nouns, verbs and adjectives. Hopefully, this will also make it easier to remember when to use each word. 

German Nouns

Remember: in German, nouns always start with an uppercase letter:

German word (with its gender-specific article)English Translation
die Zeit (fem.)time
das Beispiel (neut.)example
das Jahr (neut.)year
der Morgen (masc.)morning
die Stadt (fem.)the city

German Indefinite and Definite Articles

German wordEnglish Translation
ein (masc. & neut.) / eine (fem.)a, an
der (masc.), das (neut.), die (fem/plural.)the

German Personal Pronouns

German wordEnglish Translation
ichI
duyou [singular informal]
erhe
esit
sieshe, her; they, them
wirwe
ihryou [plural informal]
Sieyou [singular & plural formal; always capitalized]

German Reflexive Pronouns

German wordEnglish Translation
michmyself
dichyourself
sichoneself, himself, herself, itself, yourself [plural informal], themselves

German Possessive Pronouns

German wordEnglish Translation
meinmy
deinyour [singular informal]
seinhis 
ihr / Ihrhers, their; your [singular & plural formal] [when capitalized]
unserour
eueryour [plural informal]

Other German Pronouns

German wordEnglish Translation
dieser, diese, dieses this, these, that, those
mehrmore
manyou, one; we; somebody
kein, keinenone; not one; none [masculine & neuter / feminine]Examples:Er trägt keinen Mantel = He’s not wearing a coatIch habe keine Ahnung = I have no idea
nichtsnothing; not anythingExamples: für nichts = for nothingnichts als = nothing but

German Adjectives

German wordEnglish Translation
langlong(When used as the adverb “lange”, this means “for a long time”)
neunew
altold
viela lot, much, many
großbig, large, tall
kleinsmall
ganzwhole, complete, entire(Also used as an adverb meaning “quite” or “really”)
andere / anderer / anderesother

Most Common German Question Words 

German wordEnglish Translation
wiehow
wowhere
waswhat

German Verbs 

German wordEnglish Translation
gebento give
sagento say
kommento come
wollento want
lassento allow, to let
wissento know [a fact]
gehento go
habento have
sehento see
machento make
seinto be
werdento becomeThe present tense of werden is also used to form the future tense of other verbs

General Adverbs 

German wordEnglish Translation
jayes, really, certainly
neinno
nichtnot
auchalso, too
soso, this way, thus
etwaabout, approximately
vielleichtperhaps, maybe, by chance
kaumhardly
dochanyway, all the same; after allWhen used as a conjunction, doch means “but,” “but still,” or “yet”
nuronly

Adverbs of Place

German wordEnglish Translation
hierhere
obenup there, above
untenDown there
dathereAlso means “because” when used as a conjunction

Adverbs of Time and Frequency

German wordEnglish Translation
dannthen
wiederagain
nochstill, yet
schonalreadyNot to be confused with “schön” (beautiful)
jetztnow; nowadays
immeralways
Examples of different usage:was immer (whatever)wann immer (whenever)wo immer (wherever)wie immer (however)wer immer (whoever)

German Prepositions

German wordEnglish Translation
mitwith
zuto, towards, at, in, into, on for
in / imin, at, within [im = “in the”]
unterunder
aufon, in, at
fürfor
vonfrom, of
anat, on
beiby, with, at
ausout, out of, from
nachafter, toward
durchthrough
überabove, over, about
vorin front of; ahead of; outside; against; before, ago
umaround, at
zwischenbetween

German Conjunctions

German wordEnglish Translation
undand
alswhen, asMeans “than” when used as an adverb
dass that 
aberbut
oderor
wennwhen, if
dennbecause [more polite]
weilbecause
bisuntil
Examples:Bis später (Until later)Bis bald (See you soon; literally “until soon”)Bis zum nächsten Mal (Until the next time)
sobaldas soon as
währendwhile
maltimes / [number] by [number]
Used for in multiplying numbers:zwei mal vier ist acht (two times four is eight)

Next Steps – Make New Vocabulary Stick

Of course, it is not as easy as simply reading this guide once or twice to learn these common German words. 

Read  Ways To Say We're Hiring In German

In order to learn the above words you will need a lot of practice. Since reading them over and over again will get boring quickly, it is a good idea to mix up your learning methods to keep things interesting. 

Using a variety of memorisation tactics will also give you a greater chance of learning the words thoroughly. 

See below for some ideas on how to make this new vocabulary stick in your mind. 

Break Down the List of Most Common German Words Into Smaller Lists

The first step when beginning to learn the 100 words listed above is to segment them into blocks of a smaller size. 

For example, you could separate the words into different categories, like we have done in this guide. 

Alternatively, you could list the words in alphabetical order or decide to group the words together based on length. 

Whichever way you decide to divide up the list of 100 words, breaking down the list will help make such a long list of words more manageable and therefore much easier to remember. 

Use Memory Tricks to Learn the Most Common German Words

A great tactic to commit a list of words to memory is to use the common memory trick of word association. 

All you have to do is say the words aloud and think about how you can relate the meaning of the German word to a word in English you already know. 

Luckily for you, English is a Germanic language and so there are many familiar-sounding words from English to German included in this list of 100 words. 

Read  How Long Does It Take To Learn German? Honest Guide

For example, the German word “hier” sounds similar and is pronounced almost the same as the English “here”, which is actually the direct translation of “hier” anyway. 

The word for “my” in German is “mein” and this is similar to the English word “mine” which is, of course, a very similar word to “my” in English as well. 

For words that are not directly related to their translations, you can use mnemonic images to create an association between how a word sounds and the meaning of it. 

For example, the word “wieder” in German means “again” but sounds and looks like the English word “wider”. 

Therefore you could create a mental image or think of a phrase in your head such as “eating again and again will make you wieder” which relates the word “wieder” to “again” via the word “wider”. 

Another example is the word “wollen” which is the verb “to want” in German. 

You could associate the meaning “to want” with the fact “wollen” looks like the English word “woollen” by thinking of the following phrase: “I am going to want some wollen socks this winter”.  

A simpler association to make is the word “über” meaning “about, via and over”. If you create a mental picture of “a ride-sharing car driving over a bridge via a gas station” it may help you remember the meaning of “über”.  

This is definitely a fun language-learning tip that you can get creative with and adapt to meet your own weird word associations. 

Quiz Yourself on the 100 Most Used German Words With Flashcards

Another commonly used tactic to remember lists of vocab is to quiz yourself using flash cards. 

You can keep it old school by making your own using cards and pens, you could buy pre-made flashcards or you could even use an app. 

Whichever way you want to learn, this tried and tested method is as easy as writing (or typing) the German word on one side of a card and the English translation on the other. 

Try to memorize the German words and their meanings and then test yourself by seeing how many you can get right in a row. 

As you get more confident, reverse the activity and try to guess the German word based on its English transition. 

You can even get family members involved to help you and make it a bit more entertaining. 

Look for These Most Used Words in German Media

A fun way to solidify your German vocab into memory is to seek it out in German media. 

Pick a small selection of words you want to practice for the day and create a challenge to try and find those specific words in German online content. 

Watch a Youtube video from a German content creator or listen to a German podcast and see if you can spot the words you are hunting for. 

This will not only help with learning the words, as you will have to have them at the front of your mind, but it will also give you examples of the words being used in context and allow you to hear the proper pronunciation. 

Keep consuming German media until you have ticked off all the words from your daily list and don’t forget to practice your pronunciation of each word when you hear it. 

Doing a small batch of words every day using this exercise is a great memory method and can be a fun challenge too! 

Add the Most Common German Words to Your Conversations

Of course the best way to learn words is to actually use them in conversations because that is the end goal of learning new vocabulary anyway.

Choose a small selection of words that you are confident with and actively try to use them in conversations whether you are talking to a language tutor or a German friend. 

You do not want to overwhelm yourself and get confused so it is always best to start off with a small selection of words first. 

Once you have used a new word in conversation a couple of times you will notice that you can use it correctly without thinking and automatically understand what it means when said to you. 

Once you have got to this stage you know you have genuinely learnt the word. 

Keep doing this until you have covered all 100 words on the list and you will have mastered the 100 most common words in German. 

Use Them in Your German Writing Exercises

To continue learning these 100 words and truly test if you have learnt the words properly it is always good to try and write some sentences.

Every day, write a couple of sentences with the words you have selected to practice that day. 

You can get feedback from your language tutor, a German friend or even an online forum to check if you have used the words correctly. 

Having to think up sentences and contexts to use each word in and doing this daily will really help you with the memorisation process required to learn new words. 

Conclusion 

Hopefully, with the above list of 100 most common German words coupled with the methods on how best to memorize these words you will be well on your way to learning German. 

Learning the basic and most used words is an important block in the foundation of learning the German language. 

With daily study using our fun and interesting tactics, you will be able to use these 100 words in everyday conversations in no time. 

By starting with the most common words you will speed up your language learning process by solidifying in your mind an important part of the German language. 

So good luck and keep going!  

FAQs 

What are some common German words?

The most common German words are: 

  • “a/an” = “ein” (masc. & neut.) “eine” (fem.) 
  • “The” = “der” (masc.), “das” (neut.), “die” (fem/plural.) 
  • “yes” = “ja”. 
  • “No” = “nein”.

What is the best German word?

There is no real answer to what the best German word is, but in terms of usefulness and how much it will unlock for you in Germany, “ja” (yes) is certainly one of the best German words. 

You may also like: