Introduction

Introduction

German is an easy language for native English speakers to learn. Both languages are Western (meaning Germanic) languages, so they have many similarities. English and German both use the Roman alphabet and have many words that are similar. This is because many English words were derived from German words. German grammar and sentence structure also shares some similarities with English.

The biggest hurdle for native English speakers learning German is simply vocabulary and some grammar. Pronunciation is not hard for an English speaker, and it helps that both languages are written with the same characters (with a few exceptions).

The main differences between the German alphabet and the English alphabet are the “ess tset” (ß) and umlauts (two small dots over a vowel). The ß symbol simply reads like “ss” would in English. This symbol is used after long vowels, and a regular “s” is used after short vowels. Umlauts change the pronunciation of the vowel. These differences are very minute when compared to the English language and should not pose a problem to new students of German.

The other differences between German and English lie in the conjugations of verbs. This is because German has a polite form that is used for formal speech. When speaking formally in German, one should use the pronoun “Sie”* and the corresponding verb conjugation. See the charts below for more information.

*Please note that, unlike in English, all proper nouns are capitalized in German even if they do not begin a sentence. The pronoun “Sie,” when used formally, is also capitalized. The pronoun for “I” (ich) is only capitalized when it starts a sentence.

Pronoun Charts and Example Conjugations

Personal Pronouns                  Singular                       Plural

First person                 ich       I                       wir       we

Second person             du        you                  ihr        you all

Third person                er         he                    sie        they

sie        she

es         it

Formal                         Sie       you                  Sie       they

Notice that in the above chart, Sie/sie is used quite often. Sie can mean her, they, you (formal), or they (formal). You can tell which form is being used by context and by the verb conjugation. This may be confusing to new students of the language, but after a little practice, you’ll start to pick up on the patterns.

Now take a look at the conjugation chart below for a regular verb “gehen” (to go).

ich                   gehe                I go

du                    gehst               You go

er/sie/es          geht                 He/she/it goes

wir                   gehen              We go

ihr                    geht                 You all go

sie/Sie             gehen              They/you (formal) go

 

Notice how the ending changes for each conjugation. For most verbs, the above pattern is followed in order to get the correct conjugation. There are several irregular verbs; those conjugations must simply be memorized. Below is an example of an irregular conjugation chart for the verb “sein” (to be).

ich                   bin                   I am

du                    bist                  You are

er/sie/es          ist                    He/she/it is

wir                   sind                  We are

ihr                    seid                  You all are

sie/Sie             sind                  They/you (formal) are

Irregular verbs do not follow patterns. For each irregular verb you learn, you must memorize the conjugations for each pronoun.

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6 Responses to Introduction

  1. eden says:

    i like learning language and when it comes to german i think it makes me more intersted,even though i wish it have some pronaunsation to help me out,i will try hard and keep trying
    thanks for having this web site

    • Elena says:

      Hello Eden,

      I am glad the lessons are helpful for you. We will see if we can add some lessons on pronunciation.

  2. Ho In says:

    I’m a student from an International School in Vietnam and I am Korean. I’ve always been fascinated about European language. Then I found this really fabulous website, it really helps me as a beginner and I wanted to say thank you and please continue updating lessons and vocabulary lists.

    Thank you very much,
    from one of your student.

    • Elena says:

      Hello Ho In,

      Thank you for your great feedback. I hope you will continue learning German as it is really a fascinating language. Good luck!

  3. Bache Kabul says:

    Though it was my first time got across of this site and it was my first time that i learned German, i can say that this site is useful.

  4. Ahmed ouajib says:

    Hello,
    I am very glad to be learning German with you since I am really interested in learning languages in general! to be frank, you have an amazing site which aim at breaking down the German barriers and assisting us. you are doing a great job please continue and keep going! 5 stars thumb up!
    Ouajib

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