German alphabet

German Alphabet – Tongue-twister ?

Everybody knows that the basics of learning a language is its alphabet, and in the case of the German alphabet, you must have experienced that when it comes to the umlaut ä, ö, ü and ß it seems to be more of a jawbreaker than letters of a language.

 The German Alphabet or ABC (referring to the letters of A – Z) is related to the Latin alphabet with a few additions.

German is the most spoken mother tongue throughout Europa and currently around 15, 4 million people learn German, so I’m sure that some of you came across those difficulties.

Good thing is that of the letters are quite simple to read and the only difference mostly is the pronunciation, if we would compare it for example to the English alphabet. But what is it, that so many people are able to learn those weird letters with the two dots on top?

Here are some basic but effective tricks for the German Alphabet:

The Ä (combination of ae)

This one is the easiest one to learn, as we all use it or have used it if we speak English… You don’t believe me? Well I bet every one of us knows or has been to MC DONALD’S, right?

Let’s pay attention only to the way you pronounce the “MC“, a little bit like “Mac“. Now if you listen closely it sounds like the German ä. Just repeat the word again and compare it to a YouTube video about the letter “Ä“, you will be surprised….

The Ö (combination of oe)

This one might be a little trickier than the “Ä“, however we still have one English and one French word that sounds whose letter sounds similar to the German “Ö“. The english word “bird for example ; or even the word “word” that sounds like they have an “Ö” in it, because you do not pronounce the “o” in the word as you would do it in the English alphabet. If you are familiar with French, you can also refer to the word “bleu” as this sounds as you would say “blö“.

I would also recommend to use as an exercise a YouTube video practicing the “Ö” and the other umlauts.

The Ü (combination of ue)

Now that is the toughest one of all. There is no equivalent word that would sound in any kind of way as the umlaut in English. However, if you are a little bit familiar with French you will find a lot of words that sound like the “Ü“, for example the word “Rue“. Therefore, try to speak out the word and compare it the the YouTube video mentioned above.

Now I hope those comparisons make it easier for you to dive into the German language. However, there are a lot of other things you can do to learn the German alphabet or German in general easier. So above we covered the most difficult umlaut so all others are quite easy to learn.

However there might be another letter in our alphabet with which you might not be familiar with. Let’s take a look at it:


The sharp is is similar to the double s that you can find in English as well, for example Swiss. Now the Germans love rules, so to use the sharp ß here are the rules: – It will be used if the vowel before is spoken long, for example Straße (German for street). – It will be written after a long umlaut (ä,ö,ü) and so called Diphthong (which is for example du, ei or au) like the word heißen (German for called a name). BUT (otherwise it would be too easy..) – If the word ends after the Diphthong with a ß you always write s not ß!

The best ways to apply the German alphabet and German language:

  1. Old fashioned German lessons at Language-online language school :  you can join them in a group or one-to-one lesson. There your teacher will help you to with how to pronounce the German alphabet right.
  2. .. the new way of learning, the most used and named the best are for example Babbel and Duolingo. However, you need to use the App frequently and stick to it.
  3. Tandem Learning. This form is a sort of giving and taking of lessons. For example, I live in Germany but I want to learn French I can download the App, post that I want to learn French and speak German. So if a French speaking person can write me and we can set up virtual meetings to practice French and German.
  4. The “Birkenbihl-Methode”. Now this learning method uses a sort of “decoding”, where a text will be translated as close as possible, word by word into the mother tongue. In the next step the same text will be spoken while the foreign language with the subtitle in the mother tongue so the vocabulary will be learned. In addition, there can be series watched in the foreign language with subtitles to deepen the learning process.
  5. Community language learning. This is using the same base as Tandem learning. However here several students, mostly adults, gather together to use their fear of speaking or learning a new language and based on the conversation occurring they learn slowly but steady the language.

Now the most important thing is that you find a way fitting yourself so you feel comfortable and practicing continuously.

Perfect ways to self-train German can be also found online, from beginner level A1 till expert level C2.

The most common websites with online exercises are the following:

I hope this Article helped you through the first difficulties of the German language and the German alphabet and for those who want to start to learn or already learning, some good alternatives to the “old fashioned”classroom classes and some additions to improve your German knowledge.

Also a lot of Facebook groups to interact in German, a so to speak modern pen-pal relation. And who knows, maybe it will involve into a Student exchange so you will be able to practice all the nice words with “Ö“, “Ü” and “Ä” in Germany. Because there is no better way to learn a language than jump right into it and use the good old but effective method of “learning by doing” !

German verbs : all about them

Like in other language also in German we have to conjugate the verbs. In every German course you will learn that at the beginning. For the regular German verbs we have here a strict rule.

Regular German verbs

We have in German a few regular verbs. Here the rule is easy, you have only to follow the following table:


Ich komm
Du kommst
Er / Sie / Es kommt
Wir kommen
Ihr kommt
Sie kommen

The rule is following

you skip the en at the end of the basic verb, then you have only komm. At that you put the letter depending on the person. For every student it is very important, that you learn this rule very good. As better you learn it, as less problems you will have later 🙂

Irregular German verbs

Unfortunately we do not only have regular German verbs. We also have the irregular ones, which how the names tells there is no fix rules. That means for you as German learn, that you have to memorize them.

A very important one is for example the Verb to be and have:

sein (to be)

Ich bin
Du bist
Er /Sie / Es ist
Wir sind
Ihr seid
Sie sind

haben (to have)

Ich habe
Du hast
Er / Sie / Es hat
Wir haben
Ihr habt
Sie haben

This 2 Verbs we will also need in the Perfect (link to perfekt). To study the verbs you have to find your own technique. There are different types of learners. And depending of which type you have to to the right exercises to get fast results.

Separable German Verbs

in the German verbs we have also a type which is called separable verbs. This is at normally complicated for beginners. The problem here is that you have to recognize, when is it a true separable verb or not. Also some German learners forget to say at the end the prefix. The rule is not so complicated:

Infinitif: aufmachen 

In a sentence: Ich mache die Tür auf.

Here you see we put the prefix at the end and conjugate the verb depending on the person.

Modal Verbs

A modal verb is an auxiliary verb that explains a necessity or possibility. We use them in German in different ways. We can for example tell with the German modal verbs our wishes, give orders, or express rejection.

In the German language we have 6 modal verbs:

  • dürfen (to be allowed)
  • können (to be able to)
  • mögen (to like)
  • müssen (must, to have to)
  • sollen (should, to be supposed to)
  • wollen (to want)

All this verbs are irregula verbs so you have to study them.



Ich darf
Du darfst
Er /Sie /Es darf
Wir dürfen
Ihr dürft
Sie dürfen


Ich kann
Du kannst
Er /Sie /Es kann
Wir können
Ihr könnt
Sie können


Ich mag
Du magst
Er /Sie /Es mag
Wir mögen
Ihr mögt
Sie mögen


Ich muss
Du musst
Er /Sie / Es muss
Wir müssen
Ihr müsst
Sie müssen


Ich soll
Du sollst
Er /Sie /Es soll
Wir sollen
Ihr sollt
Sie sollen


Ich will
Du willst
Er /Sie / Es will
Wir wollen
Ihr wollt
Sie wollen