How to Obtain Directions in German

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Many German words are similar to English words. For example, the German word for butter is ‘butter’ but pronounced as BOOTER. ‘Mutter’, pronounced MOOTER, is the German word for mother and ‘Vater’, pronounced FAHTER (‘v’ has an ‘f’ sound in German), is English for Father. Other words include ‘Bruder’ for brother, ‘Onkel’ for uncle, ‘Kusine’ for cousin, ‘Sohn’ for son, ‘Tochter’ for daughter, ‘ja’ for yes, and ‘danke’ for thank you. Except for some different symbols and long words, learning German is made easier because there are many words similar to English words. Germans enjoy using the word ‘bitte’ pronounced BITAH (short i) which means please. So when asking “Wo ist der Bahnhof (train station), bitte?”, include please. Note that the main train station of any town is called ‘Hauptbahnhof’. ‘Nach’ is ‘to’ and ‘von’ is ‘from’, arrival time is designated with ‘an’ and departing time with ‘ab’.

The German word for ‘Where’ is Wo pronounced as VOE (‘w’ is pronounced as ‘v’ in German). To ask where the hotel is you ask Wo ist das Hotel? To ask ‘Where is…” you say Wo. If you ask ‘Where are they?” you say Wo sind sie? (‘sie’ is pronounced as ZEE). To ask ‘Where am I?” say Wo bin ich? If you want to ask the the keeper of the Gasthaus (similar to a pub and literally means ‘guest house’) where your friends went, you ask Wohin gingen sie? ? for “Where did they go?”.

If you need help say ‘Hilfe, bitte!’ Or ‘Helfen Sie mir, bitte!’. Use ‘Sie’ for you or they unless you call people by their first name and then use ‘du’ or ‘ihr’ if there is more than one person. Ich bin verloren! (‘v’ is pronounced as ‘f’) Means ‘I am lost!’

To be polite when asking questions you can say ‘Entschuldigung! To say ‘Show me, please!”, say “Zeigen Sie mir, bitte” and say ‘Tell me, please!” say “Sagen Sie mir, bitte!” Words useful to know when asking for directions include ‘Rechts’ for right, ‘links’ for left, ‘geradeaus’ for straight ahead, ‘in der Nähe’ for nearby, and ‘weit’ is for far.

Tips:

  • You can also consider taking a beginning German class at a location college or an adult school
  • Also consider foreign language learning software
  • Consider learning German with a friend, companion, or family member. This would be especially useful if you are both planning a trip to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Belgium soon
  • Learn the basics and practice. Realize there are a lot of dialects in Germany so don’t be discouraged if even after practicing someone sounds like they are speaking an unknown language to you
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