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Benjamin Saff: German Phrases to Know While Visiting


German Phrases

My family just arrived for a visit to Germany and France this weekend. I spent some time today explaining some phrases here. That inspired this post: a short list of useful/common German phrases for any readers who plan to visit.

Bitte / Danke Schön
Means: Please / Thank you (respectively).
These two phrases are used regularly here and are very useful for any tourist. Learning these phrases is the least you can do to show Deutschland a little love during your visit. Plus they are just fun to say. Even the smallest German exchange goes a long way. Side Note: You will hear Bitte Schön as a response to Danke Schön which just means you’re welcome. Who would have guessed?

Means: Excuse me.
If you find yourself about to ask a stranger for help, make sure you start with this phrase. It’s a basically a common protocol to get someone’s attention and start a conversation. Also, if you find you need to get passed someone and they seem to be at a complete standstill (as happens so often in touristy areas) you can use this phrase to pass by.

Sprechen Sie Englisch?
Means: Do you speak English?
This is, in my opinion, the easiest way to get a communication in English going, if you really have no understanding of what someone is saying or need to ask for help. Everywhere I have been in Germany so far has had people who could speak English, so you are bound to have success eventually. Don’t forget to start by getting their attention with Entschuldigung!

Means: Bye!
It’s a super common departing phrase in Germany. To some of my other friends here in Mannheim, this word is known as one of the “cute” German words. In my experience it is often said in a super cheery and up-beat way especially by the women. You will hear it after any exchange with locals, whether at restaurants, information desks, or other shops. Ciao! Is also commonly used around Mannheim.

Means: Exactly!
People use this phrase all the time. Though it’s not really useful for the average tourist, it is still fun to hear people as they pass by and know an expression or two of what they are saying. Even the slightest bit of familiarity can give some comfort. I taught this phrase to my sister and within 5 minutes she heard someone say it and was very happy to have understood it.

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