German language

West Germanic language

The German language (German: Deutsch or [die] deutsche Sprache) is a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family.

Native toPrimarily German-speaking Europe, also in the worldwide German-speaking diaspora
Native speakers
90 million (2010)[1] to 95 million (2014)[2]
L2 speakers: 10–15 million (2014)[2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Latin (German alphabet)
German Braille
Signed German, LBG
(Lautsprachbegleitende / Lautbegleitende Gebärden)
Official status
Official language in

Several international institutions
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byNo official regulation
(German orthography regulated by the Council for German Orthography[3]).
Language codes
ISO 639-1de
ISO 639-2ger (B)
deu (T)
ISO 639-3Variously:
deu – German
gmh – Middle High German
goh – Old High German
gct – Colonia Tovar German
bar – Bavarian
cim – Cimbrian
geh – Hutterite German
ksh – Kölsch
nds – Low German[a]
sli – Lower Silesian
ltz – Luxembourgish[b]
vmf – Mainfränkisch
mhn – Mócheno
pfl – Palatinate German
pdc – Pennsylvania German
pdt – Plautdietsch[c]
swg – Swabian German
gsw – Swiss German
uln – Unserdeutsch
sxu – Upper Saxon
wae – Walser German
wep – Westphalian
hrx – Riograndenser Hunsrückisch
yec – Yenish
Glottologhigh1287  High Franconian[4]
uppe1397  Upper German[5]
further information
52-AC (Continental West Germanic)
> 52-ACB (Deutsch & Dutch)
> 52-ACB-d (Central German incl. 52-ACB–dl & -dm Standard/Generalised High German)
+ 52-ACB-e & -f (Upper German & Swiss German)
+ 52-ACB-h (émigré German varieties incl. 52-ACB-hc Hutterite German & 52-ACB-he Pennsylvania German etc.)
+ 52-ACB-i (Yenish);
Totalling 285 varieties: 52-ACB-daa to 52-ACB-i
Legal statuses of German in the world.svg
     (Co-)Official and majority language

     Co-official, but not majority language      Statutory minority/cultural language

     Non-statutory minority language
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

It is spoken in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg; natively by around 100 million people. It is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. There are some people who speak German in Belgium and in the Netherlands, as well as in France and Northern Italy. There are people who speak German in many countries, including the United States and Canada, where many people emigrated from Germany. German is also spoken in Eastern Europe, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia.

German is a part of the West Germanic language family (a group of languages that are similar) and is much like English and Dutch. A lot of the vocabulary in German is related to English, but the grammar is more complicated. German has a system of cases, and when helping verbs are used, the main part of the verb must be moved to the end of the sentence. For example, "Someone has stolen my car" is Jemand hat mein Auto gestohlen (Someone has my car stolen) or, "Someone called me last night" is Jemand hat mich letzte Nacht angerufen (Someone has me last night called).

In German writing, every noun must start with a capital letter. English and Danish also did this long ago, but not now. Today, German is the only language that has this rule.

While German is an official language in Switzerland, the Swiss dialect of German is difficult for native speakers from Germany, and even for Swiss who are not native to speaking German, to understand. One reason why the dialects are still so different today is that even though Switzerland adopted Standard German, mostly as a written standard, German Swiss in WWII wanted to separate themselves from the Nazis by choosing to speak the Swiss dialect over the standard dialect.[6] Swiss German also has some differences in writing, for example, the letter ß, which is only seen in German, is always replaced by ss.



Someone reading Goethe's Faust in German

Some German words with English translationsEdit

null zero, nil
eins one
zwei two
drei three
vier four
fünf five
sechs six
sieben seven
acht eight
neun nine
zehn ten
elf eleven
zwölf twelve
dreizehn thirteen
vierzehn fourteen
fünfzehn fifteen
sechzehn sixteen
siebzehn seventeen
achtzehn eighteen
neunzehn nineteen
zwanzig twenty
ja yes
nein no
ich I
du you (friendly)
er he
sie she
es it
wir we
ihr you (plural, friendly)
Sie you (polite)
sie they
Schweiz Switzerland
Österreich Austria
Deutschland Germany
wer who
wie how
wo where
was what
der the (masculine)
die the (feminine)
das the (neuter (neutral))

Basic German expressionsEdit

Guten Morgen Good morning
Guten Abend Good evening
Guten Tag "Hello" (meaning 'Good day', used between morning and evening)
Gute Nacht Good night
Wie geht es dir/Ihnen/euch? How are you?
Mir geht's gut, danke! I'm fine, thank you!
bitte please (can also mean "you are welcome" in response to some form of danke, but not literally)
danke Thank you
Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye
Ich heiße ... My name is ...
Wie heißt du/Wie heißen Sie What's your name?
Entschuldigung/Entschuldigen Sie Excuse me
Woher kommst du?/Woher kommen Sie? Where are you from?
Ich komme aus Deutschland/Österreich I'm from Germany/Austria
Wo wohnst du?/Wo wohnen Sie? Where do you live?
Was ist los? What's up?
Ich wohne in Hamburg, in der Marienstraße im Norden Hamburgs. I'm living in Hamburg, in the Marienstraße (Mary's street) in the north of Hamburg.
Hast du Lust auf Pizza? Ich mache gerade eine. Do you want to have a pizza? I'm preparing one.
Entschuldigen Sie. Wo ist der Bahnhof? Excuse me. Where is the train station?
Wie viel kostet dieser Pullover? How much is this pullover (sweater)?
Wie viel kostet diese Jeans? How much are these jeans?
Fräulein (generally obsolete German) Miss
Frau Mrs., Ms.
Herr Mr.


  1. Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2010" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ammon, Ulrich (November 2014). "Die Stellung der deutschen Sprache in der Welt" (in German) (1st ed.). Berlin, Germany: de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-019298-8. Retrieved 24 July 2015.[page needed]
  3. "Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung – Über den Rat". Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  4. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "High Franconian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Upper German". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. "Languages of Switzerland". YouTube.


  1. The status of Low German as a German variety or separate language is subject to discussion.
  2. The status of Luxembourgish as a German variety or separate language is subject to discussion.[2]
  3. The status of Plautdietsch as a German variety or separate language is subject to discussion.

Other websitesEdit