Stories


German – 30 fun words and expressions
Kristi Fuoco
2012-07-01

 

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A complicated German sign addressing pedestrians and cyclists
alongside the Kiel Canal (which links the North and Baltic Seas)

 

I’m gonna tell you something important so listen up. German is ridiculously hard to master. It is kicking my butt every single day (and I’ve always considered myself good at languages.) After two and half months in Germany I still feel like I am speaking like a beginner (or 'Kinderdeutsch' as I say to people here.)

This is partly due to German being very hard and partly due to most Germans being able to speak English (especially in a big city like Hamburg.) But, I refuse to give up! One of the ways I’m keeping German fun (because believe me, you need to keep German learning fun) is to learn slang, fun expressions and great sounding words. I’m very grateful to have a very close German friend and a cousin who loves slang, teaching me what I need to know to really speak like a local. Here are just a few of the words and expressions that I’ve learned here that I either find A) really useful, B) really funny or C) just fun to say. I've added the pronunciations in case you want to give any of them a go. I'm warning you though...German is not for the faint of heart...or tongue! In no particular order...

1. Viel Spaß! [feel shpass] – Have fun! (but one of my favourite things is when Germans say the literal translation in English to me – much fun!)Pedestrian mall

2. der Fußgänger [dare foose-gang-uh] – pedestrian/walker (But to me it sounds like some sort of foot gang)

3. Lecker! [leck-uh] – yummy!

4. Das geht/Das geht nicht! [dass gate/dass gate neeht] – That works/that doesn’t work! (you will use these ones ALL the time and it literally means ‘that goes’ or ‘that doesn’t go’)


Bierkiste.jpg5. die Bierkiste [dee beer-kiss-tuh] – beer crate (very important in Germany of course but to me it sounds like kissing beer, a very nice idea)

6. Süß! [zoose] – cute! (works especially well for cute animals and kids but you can use it for anything/anyone)

7. Gute Fahrt! [goo-tuh fart] – Have a good/nice trip! (Oh but I still laugh about this one...yes I have the humour of a child)

 

8. Das sieht lächerlich aus! [dass zeet lake-her-lih ouse] - That looks ridiculous!

9. schwul [shvl] – gay (as in a gay man and not to be confused with ‘schwül’ which means ‘humid’...oh yeah, no danger in mixing these up!) Ampelmann.jpg

10. das Ampelmännchen [dass am-ple men-chien] - the walking man in the traffic light (one of the first words I learned here and still a favourite to say)

11. Ich bin krank. [ish bin crank] – I’m sick (rather important one to know)

12. Ich habe einen Kater. [ish ha-buh eye-nen cat-uh] - I have a hangover. (equally important to know)

13. schickimicki [shickymicky] - hoity-toity (like Shaughnessy for instance)

14. Du bist (informal) or Sie sind (formal) nett. [doo bist/zee zinnd net] - You’re nice/kind. (you can say this to a stranger who helps you out or a friend)Awesome

15. Das ist ja wirklich ganz toll!/Das ist super geil! [dass ist ya virk-leesh toll/dass ist zu-pa guy-all] – This is really great/This is awesome! (careful with the second expression here since the word ‘geil’ literally means ‘horny’ so use this in the right way!)

16. Bist du bereit? [bist doo buh-right] - Are you ready?

17. Du bist dran. [doo bist dran] – It's your turn.Hands off!

18. Hände weg! [hen-duh vague] - Hands off! (very handy to know this one after everyone is drunk after a big soccer game)

19. Gute Besserung! [goo-tuh bess-a-rung] - Feel better soon!

20. Ich habe mich verlaufen. [ish hab-uh mish fair-louf-en] - I'm lost. (sadly, I must use this one A LOT.)

21. Können Sie mir bitte helfen?/Hilfe! Hilfe! [kun-nen zee mear bit-uh hell-fen/hill-fuh] - Can you help me please?/Help! Help! (Sadly I forgot these ones when I got locked in a bathroom at a restaurant right after I arrived...don't worry, I got out!)

 

Haircut22. Ich möchte gerne meine Haare schneiden und färben lassen. [ish mush-tuh gairn my-ne ha-ruh shneye-den oond fair-ben lah-sen] - I'd like a haircut and colour. (I actually walked into a salon with this written down on a piece of paper.)

23. Das ist gut so. [dass isst goot zoh] - I like it.

24. Was bedeutet das? [vass buh-doit-tet dass] - What does that mean? (and believe me, you will use this one a lot!)You_can_do_it.jpg

 

25. Das schaffst Du. [dass shaffst doo] - You can do it./You can pull that off. (very much slang)

26. Das klingt gut!/Das sieht gut aus! [dass clingt goot/dass zeet goot ouse] - That sounds good!/That looks good/Nice!

27. Du siehst müde aus. [doo zeest moo-duh ouse] - You look tired. (probably best to use this one as carefully as you would in English.)

28. Das ist der Hammer! [dass isst dare ham-muh] - That's da bomb! (But the difference here is that people actually still say the equivalent of 'da bomb'. If you are using that still back home you really must stop. Okay so I used it once recently but I was very, very tired.)

 

Snapshot

29. Können Sie bitte ein Foto von mir machen? [kun-nen zee bit-uh eyn fo-toe fawn meer mak-en] - Could you please take a photo of me? (If you travel solo a lot like me this one really comes in handy!)

30. Das ist lieb von Dir! (inf) [dass isst leeb fawn dear] – That is lovely of you (to do that)!

 

 

 

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Kristi Fuoco

KRISTI FUOCO – Social media enthusiast, English teacher, writer, marketer, traveler, music lover. West Coast Canadian gal living and working in Germany and traveling around Europe. Current city – Hamburg.

Twitter: @kristifuoco
Email: kristi.fuoco@gmail.com


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My experience in Germany has been invaluable. In addition to learning German and taking part in another culture, I have learned so much about myself. I am confident that I can thrive away from the comforts of home and that I am dynamic and flexible. This is exactly what today’s employers are looking for – giving me a competitive advantage in the working world.
Kate from British Columbia – working for an international not-for-profit organisation.