Reading German Words in English Sentences is the very easiest way to begin to read German.
The following paragraphs in English have a few German words mixed in. This starts you reading a few German words in the easiest way – in a context of familiar English words in English sentences.
1. Some of these German words you may not know,
2. But many are similar to English words,
3. And others are ones you may have seen used in English.
In English there are words and phrases that are still obviously German, but used enough in English that you may have heard them and may know what they mean.
English has borrowed words from German and many other languages over centuries. Most of these borrowings have been in our language so long that we no longer think of them as foreign.
Others of these borrowed words have come into the language recently enough that they still seem foreign to native speakers. Usually these words borrowed recently have retained their German pronunciation, spelling, and some accent marks.
Or some of these borrowed words still have elements in their spelling or pronunciation that do not fit into the usual patterns of English.
For these German words you may already know, your knowledge may have several levels:
1) You may have seen a German word in English writing, and know how it is spelled, perhaps with German accent marks.
2) You may know the retained German pronunciation of a borrowed word.
3) You may know the meaning of a borrowed word.
Stories In English With German Words Similar To English
The following paragraphs in English that have a few German words mixed in. This was written by someone taking a first trip to Germany -- and discovering that many German words are similar to English words.
In the middle of the following sentences, you will see some nouns that start with capital letters that are German nouns similar to English.
The following German stories were written by Christoph & Sandra Weininger for the first edition of the Easiest German book.
1. STORY ABOUT ENGLISH WORDS IN GERMAN
I work for a newspaper that had a sweepstake with a grand prize of a trip to Germany for two.
I was sent out to interview the lucky winners of the trip to Germany, Ken & Candy. I was surprised to find out that they didn’t even want to go on the trip.
“Why wouldn't you go on this free trip?” I asked Ken.
He answered: “Well, I don’t speak any German, for one thing. And I am kind of particular about what I eat; I only eat American food. So in Germany, I wouldn’t even be able to get my favorite foods. I wouldn't know how to order them in German.”
“What are your favorite foods?” I asked him.
“I like hamburger, steak and hot dogs.”
“You just ordered them -- in German!” I replied, to his surprise.
“Really? The Germans call those by the same names?”
“Those names are the same in both languages -- the only difference is that the names of things are capitalized in German: ‘der Hamburger’, ‘das Steak’, and der Hot Dog.”
But what if I want ketchup with it?”
“Ketchup in German is called der Ketchup. But I hope you don’t like mustard.”
“No, I hate mustard” said Ken. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, mustard in German is called ‘Senf’ -- not everything has the same names.”
“But what about me?” asked Candy. “I love to go shopping.”
“It’s called ‘’das Shopping’ in German, too.”
“But what if I can’t ask for any of the things I want to buy.”
“What do you want ?” I asked.
“All kind of clothes: a T-shirt, jeans, a bikini, and…” she said.
“This is going to be easy,” I replied. “Just ask for ‘das T-Shirt’, ‘die Jeans’, and ‘der Bikini’, that’s what the Germans call them!”
Candy was still skeptical: “But my favorite part of shopping is asking for a deal to get a discount, and I can’t do that in German.”
“Yes, you can!” I assured her, “There are other German words for it, but ‘das Deal’ and ‘das Discount’ are very commonly used, so everybody will understand you.”
“Well, what do you think?” Candy looked over to Ken.
“I guess we have no excuse not to go -- and now I can’t wait to order my favorite meal in this so-called German language!”
2. STORY ABOUT GERMAN WORDS IN ENGLISH
Ken and Candy were very excited about their discovery that so many English words are used in German.
The next time they were in town they met Franz, a young, bilingual student from Germany.
They started talking about the trip that Ken & Candy won. Especially about how they found out about being able to order their food and go shopping by using some German words similar to English -- without even learning the German language.
"I have to say, that is awfully nice of you Germans to use all these English words. We Americans would never do that," said Candy to Franz.
"Well, maybe you don't notice it, but you are nice enough to use some German words in English," said the bilingual student from Germany.
"I didn't need to learn a new word to order my favorite food in America. Thank you for calling a Bratwurst a Bratwurst and a Wiener Schnitzel a Wiener Schnitzel.
And Sauerkraut is not only a German dish, but also a German word.
Or how about Kindergarten? Did you know that kindergarten is a German word and literally means ‘children's garden.’ English adopted this word -- even though it doesn't really make literal sense.
Last night I was watching American Football on TV, and they kept talking about a Blitz. Blitz is short for Blitzkrieg, which is German meaning "fast war".
There are more terms that made it into English during the war. "Nazi" and "Führer", for example.
"You're right," said Ken. "We use some German words in English. But if we have to talk about war to use those words, they won't be of much help. We need words that a tourist could use.
"Well, then get your rucksack and come to Munich and see the Oktoberfest," said Franz. He smiled because he knew English speakers understand what the German words Oktoberfest and Rucksack mean.
3. STORY WITH WORDS FROM OTHER LANGUAGES IN ENGLISH AND GERMAN
In the following paragraphs, the WORDS IN CAPITAL LETTERS are similar ones in English and in German that were borrowed by both from various other foreign languages, many being borrowed from French or Italian by both English and German.
Ken, Candy and Franz, their new friend from Germany, decided to go out together that night.
They arranged to meet at a CAFÉ. They found out from each other that the French word café is used in both English and German.
The same is true of the EXPRESSO that they ordered, a specialty from Italy.
But the most interesting part for Ken and Candy was that both of these adopted foreign words in English are also used in German, which will be very helpful on their trip.
As they walked down 4th Avenue, Franz pointed out other borrowed foreign words used in both English and German.
Franz bought some SOUVENIRS in a little BOUTIQUE. Candy didn't buy anything, but she liked the DÉCOR of the store.
Then they went to an Italian RESTAURANT for dinner.
First they had an APERITIF. Then they wanted to order a PIZZA, but the waiter told them: "This is not Pizza Hut, we are an Italian GOURMET Restaurant, so we don't serve Pizza."
What a FAUX PAS! So they ordered SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE instead. And they had TIRAMISU for desert.
After dinner, Ken and Franz went to a CABARET show.
Candy went home, because she had a MIGRAINE. When she got home she was very worried, because their AU PAIR girl, who was supposed to look after the kids, wasn't there.
It turned out that this young woman went to the same show as Ken and Franz. She went INCOGNITO, but Ken recognized her anyway.
First he was upset that she wasn't home watching the kids. But the girl was very attractive, and when she started flirting and danced with him, he forgot about the kids.
When Candy found out, she was so upset that she fired the AU PAIR and threw Ken's ticket to Germany away. She would go the trip alone.
Later she forgave Ken. But she would still go alone, because she had thrown Ken's tickets away.
Candy felt bad about this.
But Ken said: "You had a good reason to be upset with me. You go on the trip to Germany without me. But maybe you can write to me from Germany. Tell me if there really are so many words alike in German and English as that German guy Franz says."
4. LETTER ABOUT DISCOVERING GERMAN WORDS SPELLED LIKE ENGLISH
In the middle of the following sentences, you will see some words starting with capital letters that are German words similar to English.
Well, here I am in Germany, after dreaming about it for so long.
What surprises me is how many words in German are spelled exactly like English words. I wonder why?
There is one difference that I noticed: In German, all nouns are capitalized wherever they appear (not just at the start of a sentence as in English).
So our word tradition is capitalized Tradition in German -- and I guess that’s what this little difference is, just a different tradition. Once I found that out, it actually helped me a few times.
When I read a German sentence that looks somewhat familiar, it can be of great help to know that all nouns are capitalized.
I’ve been riding the subway a lot here in Munich, and I have gotten into the habit of looking for familiar words on all the billboards, advertisements, newspapers, menus, and signs. This way, I found the nice Hotel where I am staying.
I also found out that there is a Jazz Festival in town while I am here.
And the local Zoo was proud to announce their new Baby Tiger.
I saw that Kraft is promoting a new Gourmet Dressing.
And a Restaurant advertised their new Pudding.
Then there was this sign at a Bar that invited me to drink Rum.
It was also easy to find a place to get a Massage, but it was not gratis.
I saw an ad for a Radio station was giving out Tickets to the Planetarium.
If I think about it, it’s pretty amazing what great things I would have missed if all these words weren’t the same in German as in English.
A German guy I met named Hans took me to a great Party.
But I know what you might be thinking. So to answer the big question....No, I did not have Sex, but it is spelled the same in German, too.
5. LETTER ABOUT GERMAN SPELLED DIFFERENTLY THAN ENGLISH
On my trip through Germany, I’ve arrived at my friends’ home in the Black Forrest.
It was interesting to talk to their son, Axel, who had just come home for lunch from school when I arrived.
He showed me his school schedule on the wall.
I saw that on Montag (which must be Monday, because it was the first day on the schedule) he had Biologie, Mathematik, Geographie and Englisch. In the afternoon it said Orchester.
His English was good, so I started asking him about his day at school.
Axel spoke some English and German to me, but I was able to understand quite a lot. I will use the English/German cognates that Axel pointed out to me in his textbook. You will see that they look very familiar,so you’ll see how easy it was.
I found out that he learned to use a Mikroskop in biology class.
He was introduced to Multiplikation in math.
They had a Diskussion about the British Demokratie in his English class.
Und they watched a Dokumentar-film about Afrika in geography.
He plays the Saxophon in the Orchester.
He is also part of the Schwim-Team, so Axel had to go back to school after lunch.
When Axel came home in the evening, he showed me on the Kalender (calender) that he will be finished at his Schule (school) in Mai (May).
In Juli (July) he will start studying either Architektur (architecture) or Tourismus (tourism) at the Universität (university).
My first day with a family in a foreign country was really interesting. And it was fun finding so many German words that I understand without knowing German.
All the best from the Black Forrest,
6. GERMAN WORDS WITH DIFFERENT BUT SUGGESTIVE MEANINGS
Yesterday, I went to see a HOCKEY game here in Frankfurt. You should have seen the surprise in my face when I arrived at the stadium and there was no ice. I soon realized that HOCKEY in German refers to what we call ‘field hockey’.
Some other German names for sports are misleading, too.
I knew that FUSSBALL must be soccer, not American Football.
And one of the most popular sports here in Europe is called HANDBALL, but it has nothing to do with that game where you use your hand to hit a ball against a wall. A German guy told me that HANDBALL is called ‘team handball’ in English, but I'd never heard of it.
Several words I encounter here in Germany have very similar meanings, but it's good to know that some of them are used differently.
When you ask for a MENÜ in a German restaurant, you're not asking for the printed menu, but for a fixed price meal.
And the German word PHRASE is only used in a negative sense, comparable to ‘cliché’ in English.
I was surprised to find out that there are expressions in German made up from English words.
When I went shopping with a woman I met and we both bought the same kind of shirt, she called it PARTNER LOOK. I've been told it's a very common expression in Germany. I guess we'd call it ‘his and hers’.
But don't you think it's weird that they use English words in a way we don't even use them ourselves?
Another example is HANDY, which is a ‘cellular phone’. I might agree that it’s handy, but I wonder how it happened that they use HANDY as their word for it. Do you think the German might be doing this just to play with our English-speaking minds?
-- Love, Candy
7. LETTER ABOUT FALSE COGNATES IN GERMAN
In the following paragraphs, the German WORDS IN CAPITAL LETTERS are spelled like English, but have different meanings than the English words they falsely resemble.
After I encountered so many familiar words in the German language, I guess I got a little overconfident. As soon as I saw a familiar-looking word in German, I assumed it had the same meaning as in English.
This caused some misunderstandings when I was looking for a place to stay here in Heidelberg.
I found a nice bed & breakfast, but was a little bit confused when the lady showed me the room. She told me I had to pay BAR -- but since there was no bar in the building, I didn't know where to pay. I found out that BAR in this sense means ‘cash’, although it also means ‘bar’ for a drink in German too.
When we looked at the nice view she told me that the view is TOLL. I couldn't believe they would charge for a view in Germany and I asked how much that toll would be. But she explained me that TOLL in German means ‘great’.
At that moment, her son walked in the room. She introduced me and said that her son is BALD GROSS. How could she say something like that? Maybe his hair was somewhat thin, but he wasn't bald. And he looked nice, not gross. Well, again I was wrong with my assumptions: in German BALD means ‘soon’ and GROSS means ‘tall’ or ‘big’, so she was just proud of her growing son.
Then the lady said she had a RAT for me. What? Rats in my room? I was about to look for a new place, but I found out that in German RAT is a bit of advice.
But the most dangerous misunderstanding was still to come: The advice was to stay away from the GIFT in the cabinet. What kind of a gift is that if you have to stay away from it? I didn't dare to ask, but it was good to follow her advice. I looked up GIFT in my German dictionary - it means ‘poison’. Well, maybe I'll need it if a real rat shows up.
Bye for now.
8. LETTER ABOUT THE SOUNDS OF GERMAN
When I got to Germany, I heard some words that sounded somewhat familiar like English, and I could understand some of them. Listening to those people babble away in German, every now and then an English-sounding word jumps out at you.
The easiest were all the English words they obviously borrowed from us that they still pronounce like we do in English, more or less, such as the ones I wrote you about before. For example, HAMBURGER, HOT DOG, SANDWICH, T-SHIRT, or CAMPING.
Germans pronounce other borrowed English words a little differently than we do, but it's easy to recognize them.
Another group of words I heard and could understand are the English words borrowed from German for example AUTOBAHN or KINDERGARTEN.
And words borrowed by English and German from other languages, such as PIZZA, BOUTIQUE, SOUVENIR, or EXPRESSO.
Then I was surprised to hear words that I always thought were English and never suspected were German also, like TOAST, GOLF, HOTEL, SPORT, or JAZZ.
I don't know whether it's just some lucky coincidences, but there are also some words in German that are pronounced almost identical as in English even though they are spelled differently.
For example, ice is pronounced "ice", but spelled EIS in German.
Shoe is pronounced "shoe", but spelled SCHUH in German.
Rice is pronounced "rice", but spelled REIS in German.
Fine is pronounced "fine", but spelled FEIN in German.
I'm glad for every word in German that I already know how to pronounce, whether it's a borrowed word, a shared word or a random coincidence.
9. LETTER ABOUT EASY NEW FOREIGN WORDS -- ON SIGNS ETC.
After being here in Germany for nine days, I realize that some totally new foreign German words are easier to learn than others.
Besides all the look-alike words I have written to you about, I have been seeing and hearing some unfamiliar foreign words so often in familiar situations that my mind has begun to remember them automatically, without even trying.
For example, many doors are labeled DRÜCKEN (‘Push’) or ZIEHEN (‘Pull’).
If a hotel or bed & breakfast has rooms available, it hangs out the sign ZIMMER FREI (‘Vacancy’).
In trains and other public places there are obvious signs designating this area as RAUCHER (‘Smoking’) or NICHTRAUCHER (‘Non-smoking’).
When I was driving on the Autobahn, I was wondering how large that town "Ausfahrt" was, it seemed to have an endless number of exits, until I realized that AUSFAHRT means ‘Exit’.
Along with all these foreign signs I see everywhere over here, I’ve been hearing certain German words so often that they no longer seem so alien. Also, I can usually understand what they mean because they occur in situations analogous to familiar ones I’ve been used to all my life.
For example, everyone greets me with GUTEN TAG all the time whenever I go into a restaurant or store. And when I leave its AUF WIEDERSEHEN (goodbye) -- or TSCHÜSS, which seems to be more informal.
I’ve learned to say ICH HEISSE Candy (‘My name is Candy’). Or for a joke I say ICH HEISSE Bonbon (Bonbon is German for candy) -- but sometimes they don’t get the joke.
When people meet, they frequently ask each other WIE GEHT'S? (‘How are you?’). To which they usually answer SEHR GUT (‘Very well’).
I’m always saying BITTE (‘please’) and DANKE (‘thanks’), and NEIN, DANKE (‘no thank you’).
Since I’m always trying to find my way around as a tourist, one of the first phrases I picked up was WO IST…? (Where is?) This helps me find everything from the train station (WO IST DER BAHNHOF?) to the restrooms (WO IST DIE TOILETTE?).
While shopping, I quickly learnt to ask WIEVIEL KOSTET DAS? (‘How much is this?’)
And to understand the basic numbers from one to ten in German: EINS, ZWEI, DREI, VIER, FÜNF, SECHS, SIEBEN, ACHT, NEUN, und ZEHN.
Now it’s time to say GUTE NACHT (‘goodnight’),
10. LAST LETTER FROM GERMANY
Sadly my ten-day vacation is drawing to a close – I’ll be home in a few days.
I’ve fallen in love with Germany and, to my surprise, also with the German language.
German still sounds weird, but now I know I can read some German because of all the look-alike words.
I’ve also worn my phrase book to shreds.
I’m ready and motivated to take a course in German to learn the grammar and the pronunciation.
I’ve read that a full-time intensive language course like the kind for diplomats takes about six months, which is only half as long as other languages that don’t have many look-alike words.
My plan is to take a German course at the Community College before I move to Germany.
They say living in a foreign country is the best way to really learn a language – by being immersed in it every day with a real need to communicate in that language.
I can’t wait to get back to Germany. I’m so excited I’m bursting with joy!
After Easiest Languages, a good next step is the German in Ten Minutes a Day foreign language instruction books, containing some paragraphs in English that have a few German words mixed in.