German alphabet

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Pronunciation of German letters

Learn the most important rules of the pronunciation of German letters with the following words. For a complete overview of the German alphabet click here.

For the dotted letters (umlauts) ä, ö und ü listen: Bis später, zwölf (12), tschüss and fünf (5). ß sounds like s in sister. Listen Ich heiße.

Ja Yes
Nein No
Danke Thank you
Bitte Please, you are welcome
Hallo Hello
Tschüss Goodbye to a friend
Bis später See you later
Ich heiße ... My Name is ...
Null Zero
Eins One
Zwei Two
Drei Three
Vier Four
Fünf Five
Sechs Six
Sieben Seven
Acht Eight
Neun Nine
Zehn Ten
Elf Eleven
Zwölf Twelve

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The most important rules of the pronunciation of German alphabet

Letter Listen
ä like e in Elephant bis später
ö German sound zwölf
ü German sound tschüss, fünf
ß like s in sister Ich heiße ...
a like a in Master danke, hallo, acht
e like e in Elephant elf
i like i in insect bitte
u like oo in book Null
h is sometimes silent zehn, not in Hallo, Ich heiße ...
j like y in yes ja
r sometimes rolled r drei
s sometimes like z in zero sieben
w   zwei
z ts zwei, zehn, zwölf
ei like i in Mike nein, zwei, drei
ie like ee in see vier, sieben
eu like oi in boiled neun
ch   acht
chs like x in six sechs
sp shp bis später

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Short and long vowels in German

In English there are also short and long vowels:
short [ɪ] like i in insect
long [ɪ:] like ee in see

short [ɪ] in German in bitte
long [ɪ:] in German in sieben

Bitte Please, you are welcome
Sieben Seven

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [ɪ:]. The most frequent is ie like in sieben. But: i is also long in: Always before -h and -eh ihr, Ihnen (different forms of you) fliehen (flee), ziehen (pull) In some other words like wir (we), Igel (Hedgehog) Short and long a: short [a] in German in Apfel (apple)
long [a:] in German in aber (but)

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [a:]. The most frequent are aa, ah and aß like in Staat (country), zehn (10) and Straße or Spaß. But: a is also long in: aber (but), baden (to bathe) Short and long e: short [e] in German in Apfel (apple)
long [e:] in German in Peter (Peter)

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [e:]. The most frequent are ee and eh like in Meer (see) and Ehre (honor) But: e is also long in: aber (but), baden (to bathe) ä = e Usually the words with ä are derived from words with a. Apfel (apple) Äpfel (apples) Zahn (tee) Zähne (tees) fahren (to drive) er fährt (he drives) kalt (cold) kälter (colder) Short and long ä: short [e] in German in Äpfel (apples)
long [e:] in German in Zähne (tees) Short and long o: short [o] in German in xx (xx)
long [o:] in German in xx (xx)

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [o:]. The most frequent are oo, oh and oß like in Boot (boat), Floh (flea) and groß (big). But: o is also long in: Po (po), Büro (office) In Nordpol (North Pole) is the first o short and the second one long: [Nordpo:l] You will need this word for the spelling alphabet. Short and long ö: short [(IPA: œ)] in German in Hölle (hell)
long [IPA: ø] in German in Höhle (cave)

Short and long u: short [u] in German in Kuss (kiss)
long [u:] in German in Fuß (foot)

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [u:]. The most frequent are uh and uß like in Kuh (cow) and Fuß (foot). But: u is also long in: Blume (flower) Short and long ü: short [y] in German in Kuss (kiss)
long [y:] in German in Füße (feet)

In German are several possibilities how to mark long [y:]. The most frequent are üh and üß like in Kühe (cows) and Füße (feet). But: ü is also long in: grün (green) Summary: Double vowels like aa, ee and oo are always long. H after a vowels makes it long, such as zehn (10) or Ehre (honor). ß marks long vowels, such as Straße, Spaß, groß and Fuß (feet). Double consonants mark short vowels, such as Gasse (Street), bitte (please) or Bett (bed). Before single consonants are vowels pronounced mostly long.

Complete overview of German letters and grouped letters

tady tws. ipa ; see also the IPA phonetic guide to German, which is located here.german alphabet phonetic spelling in wiki


a [a, a:] hat, Masern

ä [e, e:] Männer, Väter

e [e, e:] gegen, denn, habe

é2 [e:] Café

i [ɪ, ɪ:] bitte, wir

o [o, o:] voll, so

ö [œ, ø] zwölf, schön

u [u, uː] und, Uhr

ü [y, y:] fünf, über

y 2 [y, j] Sylvie, yacht

aa [a:] Staat

ai [aɪ] Mai

au [au] laut

ay [aɪ] Bayern

äu ɔʏ Häuser

ee [eː] Beere

ei [aɪ] mein

eu ɔʏ Euro

ey [aɪ] Meyer

ie [iː] dienen

oe [ø] Goethe

oo [oː] Boot


b [b, p1] bitte, ab

c [k] Café

d [d, t1] du, Wind

f [f] fest

g [g, ʒ2, k1] geben, Etage, Tag

h3 [h] heiße

j [j, ʒ2, dʒ2] jung, Journal, Jeans

k [k] König

l [l] laufen

m [m] Mann

n [n] Nummer

p [p] Person

r 4 [ʀ/ɹ/r, ɐ] recht, Sänger

s [z, s] so, sexy

t [t] tun

v [f, v2] viel, Vitamin

w [v] was

x [ks] Fax

z [ts] ziehen, Zahl

ß6 [s] heiße

ch [x] Buch, mich

ck [k] Klecks

dt [t] Stadt

kn [kn] Knie

pf [pf] Pfeffer

ph [f] Photo

qu [kʋ] Qual

st [ʃt, st12] starten, Post, rustikal

sp [ʃp] später

th [t] Theme

ti2 [tsi] Nation

tz [ts] Platz

chs [ks] Sechs

sch [ʃ] Englisch

dsch [dʒ2] Dschungel

tsch [tʃ] Deutsch

1. At the end of words 2. In foreign words 3. h is sometimes silent and marks a long vowel, such as Stuhl [ʃtuːl] 4. /ɹ/ is the same r sound as in English and is used in Northern Germany; /r/ is trilled and is used in Bavaria and Austria; /ʀ/ is used everywhere else; Words that end in ~er are pronounced /ɐ/, such as Ober [oːbɐ].

Trilled r in Austria

Yiddish princess by Georg Kreisler

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How to pronounce German umlauts?

German umlauts ä, ö and ü:


Arnold Schwarzenegger

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How to pronounce German ß?

German ß sounds like s in sister. The pronounciation of ß is the same like ss.


ß or ss?

Memorize the Street rule

Gasse short
short vowels + ss
Straße long
long vowels + ß

Short and long vowels

How to pronounce German ai, ei, ay?

German ai, ei, ay sound like y in my.


How many letters has the German alphabet?

The letters of the German alphabet, which consists of the same standard 26 Latin letters as the English alphabet plus ä, ö, ü, and ß:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, Ä, Ö, Ü, ß

Silent letters in German alphabet

German spelling is very phonetic and regular. There are basically no silent letters like k in I know, with only a few exemptions to the rule.

The h is sometimes silent. Never at the beginning of words like Hallo (hello). H marks long vowels like in zehn (10).


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