German Phrases: How to Sound Like a Local

The lack of foreign language skills can be quite stressful while traveling. There definitely will be a situation when there is no opportunity to avoid an interaction with local people. No matter on what level of studying common German phrases you might be, there are always some useful expressions that can save the day.

german phrases

You know that the phrases you find in textbooks can be completely different from those the Germans use in their everyday life. In this article, you will find all sorts of phrases in German that you can use to sound like a native. We’ve grouped them into different categories for your convenience.

Basic German Phrases

Hallo! – Hello!
Danke. – Thank you.
I don’t understand. – Das verstehe ich nicht.
How are you? – Wie gehts?
Bis später! – See you later!
Hau ab! – Get lost!
Darf ich mal vorbei? – May I pass by?
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! – Happy Birthday!
Stimmt so. – Keep the change.
Der Zug ist schon abgefahren. – That ship has sailed. (The moment is gone.)


Advanced German Phrases

Servus! – Hello/Goodbye!
It’s a typical way of greeting someone in the south of Germany, Bavaria. The translation from Latin is “I’m your servant”.

Mach’s Gut. – Goodbye.
The literal translation is “have a good one”. It’s appropriate to use this type of German phrases when ending a conversation. It is not a formal one, so it is better to use it when talking to friends.

Einen Augenblick, bitte! – Just a second!
The interpretation of this phrase is that you are asking someone to wait for as much time as one needs to blink.

Phrases to Use When Meeting Someone

Schön Sie kennenzulernen. – Nice to meet you.

Lass uns unbedingt einen Kaffee trinken gehen. – Let’s go and grab a coffee.

Wollen wir Du sagen? – Shall we say “Du” to one another?

Phrases to Use When Talking to a Colleague

Kümmerst du dich darum? – Do you mind taking that on?

Da warte ich noch auf Feedback. – I’m still waiting for feedback.

Da haben wir noch Potenzial. – We can still work with that.

Kannst du mir helfen? – Can you help me?

Phrases to Use When Talking to a Friend

Läuft bei dir! – Things are going well for you!

Das ist Bescheuert! — That’s ridiculous!

Das ist mir Wurst? — What do I care?

Kein Schwein hat mir geholfen. – Nobody helped me.

Der spinnt. — He’s nuts.

Ich habe die Nase voll davon. — I’m sick of it.

Das kannst du deiner Oma erzählen. — Tell it to your Grandmother.

German Idioms

Kein Bier vor vier. – No beer before four.
Explanation: Although you might think Germans drink beer 24/7, it is not true.

Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her. – The fish starts stinking from the head.
Explanation: If a company is not doing very well, the top managers should be the ones to blame and take the responsibility.

Erst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral. – First comes the food, then the moral.
Explanation: If you are hungry, it is difficult to think about big philosophical questions. You focus on the primary needs first.

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof. – Life is not a pony farm.
Explanation: It’s not always rainbows and butterflies in real life. Be prepared to face problems.

Aller Anfang ist schwer. – Every beginning is hard.
Explanation: It is always difficult to begin but as you start, things get better.

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund. – The early bird gets the worm.
Hunde, die bellen, beißen nicht. – His bark is worse than his bite.

Des Teufels liebstes Möbelstück ist die lange Bank. – The devil’s favorite piece of furniture is the long bench.
Explanation: When you are postponing something you’re putting it on a long bench. It is a way of defining procrastination.

Wer rastet, der rostet. – He who rests grows rusty.
Explanation: To accomplish something you need to continue working and trying. If you stop and give up, you won’t achieve the desired result.

Aus Schaden wird man klug. – Failure makes smart.
Explanation: Without making mistakes you won’t be able to understand how to do it right.

Das Billige ist immer das Teuerste. – The cheapest is always the most expensive.
Explanation: Investing in quality is always a good idea. A cheap price might mean that you will have to pay twice for your avarice.

Man muss die Dinge nehmen, wie sie kommen. – You have to take things the way they come.
Explanation: Take life as it is because you don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing. Even the worst situation may turn out beneficial for you.

To be continued…

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