When I learned we were moving to Germany, my first thought was, oh boy I’m going to have to learn some German. As an American in a foreign country, you should try to learn a few words in the language spoken locally. It will get you farther than you think and will help ease the transition. Most people will see that you are trying and (most of the time) will try and help you. If they speak English and see that you are struggling, they may switch to speak English to you. However, in the instances where some people don’t speak English, there are a few German words or phrases that can help you out when living in Germany.
Morgen – Means “Morning”
I feel bad for any person who’s name is Morgan because it sounds like they are saying their name. All they are saying is “Morning”. This is a common greeting at bakeries, grocery stores even when you see your neighbor as you leave for work.
Tschuss – means “Bye!”
Germans almost sing the word as they say it too. Auf Wiedersen is the more formal way of saying “Good-bye” but you rarely here that in Stuttgart. Again, workers, friends, and neighbors will use this word versus the more formal word, Auf Wiedersen.
Danke – means “Thanks”
This is just common courtesy and shows good manners. Germans are all about manners so remember to say thank you after you finish paying for something, you get your food, etc. Most of the time you can string “Danke, tschuss!” together and say, thanks, bye as you leave a grocery store, bakery, bank etc.
Bitte – means “Please”
Again, anther form of good manners. If you want to order a croissant or a piece of cake at the bakery, you ask for “eine croissant, bitte” (one croissant, please). Then you say, “danke, tschuss!” as you walk out.
Entschuldigung – means “I’m sorry”
This is mostly used if you happen to bump into someone as you are walking, or need to get by someone standing in your way. I find myself using this phrase a lot
Genau – means “Exactly” or “of course”
You will hear this word more than you will say it. Germans will say this to you when you are giving them money and you are hesitating, because you aren’t sure of the coins yet. Or if you are recycling something and you aren’t sure if this plastic thing goes in this certain plastic bin (more on recycling later), they will say “genau”.
Sprechen Sie Englisch? – means “Do you speak English?”
If you have to ask a question and you don’t know how to say it in German you can start by saying a few words in German like, “Morgen, Sprechen Sie Englisch?”
These are just a few of the words I have picked up in the first few weeks of living in Germany. Again, try and pick up as much of the language as you can so you can feel more comfortable when conversing with you neighbors.
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