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German Phrases: How to Sound Like a Local

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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 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.

Page Content:

  1. Basic German Phrases
  2. Advanced German Phrases
  3. Meeting Someone
  4. Talking to a Colleague
  5. Talking to a Friend
  6. German Idioms

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.

1. Basic German Phrases

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

2. Advanced German Phrases

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

Goodbye.Mach’s Gut.
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.

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

3. Meeting Someone

Nice to meet you. – Schön Sie kennenzulernen.

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

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

4. Talking to a Colleague

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

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

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

Can you help me?Kannst du mir helfen?

5. Talking to a Friend

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

That’s ridiculous!Das ist Bescheuert!

What do I care?Das ist mir Wurst?

Nobody helped me.Kein Schwein hat mir geholfen.

He’s nuts.Der spinnt.

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

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

6. German Idioms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have to take things the way they come.Man muss die Dinge nehmen, wie sie kommen.
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…