SOS German: Last-Minute German Crash Course

Updated on July 17, 2019
Jennifer Madison profile image

Jennifer is a polyglot and the founder of Learn German with Jenny

Common Expressions Are Useful

It can prove to be useful knowing some common and simple words and phrases when spending some days or weeks in Germany, either for business or for leisure purposes. I have compiled a number of useful words and phrases for you to use during your stay in Germany which can really help you out in a variety of situations. When I use a comma, it means that I am suggesting more than one way of saying the same thing. It is also recommendable to add “Entschuldigen Sie” (Excuse me) when asking Germans for directions. It already starts you off well and will probably determine if people are ready to help you or not.

General Phrases

Hello (informal)
Hallo, Hi
Hello (formal)
Guten Tag
Excuse me
Entschuldigen Sie
How are you? (formal)
Wie geht es Ihnen?
How are you? (informal)
Wie geht es dir?, Wie geht's?
I am fine.
Mir geht es gut.
Thank you
Thank you very much
Vielen Dank, Danke schön
You are welcome
Bitte!, gern geschehen!, keine Ursache!, Nichts zu danken!
What time is it?
Wie spät ist es?, Wieviel Uhr ist es?
What's your name? (formal)
Wie heißen Sie?
What's your name? (informal)
Wie heißt du?
Good-bye! (formal)
Auf Wiedersehen!
Tschüß (ß is pronounced like ss)

At the Airport

Although in most German airports, signs are always bilingual English-German and it is hard to get lost as Germans just have very well organized airports, it can still be useful to communicate when you are stressed, running late or simply want to practice your German with some simple questions you can ask the airport staff.

Frankfurt International Airport
Frankfurt International Airport
Airline company
Connecting flights
Is the flight on schedule?
Ist der Flug pünktlich?
When will the flight depart?
Wann startet der Flug?
Is the flight delayed?
Hat der Flug Verspätung?
Public Transport System in Berlin
Public Transport System in Berlin

Taking Public Transport

Using public transport in Germany is not as easy as you might think. There is a great variety of tickets depending on the distance you want to travel, the destination, how many people are traveling and the days you travel. There are special tickets for the weekend, weekly tickets, monthly tickets, tickets valid starting at 9am and many more. It is a jungle of tickets and on top of this, train stations are big and often with between 10 and 20 tracks that go in multiple directions. It can be hard to find your way around and if you don’t know one word or the other you might feel overwhelmed very quickly.

Where can I find a taxi?
Wo kann ich ein Taxi finden?
Where can I find the ticket office?
Wo kann ich den Fahrkartenschalter finden?
Where is Track 16?
Wo ist Gleis 16?
I want to go to Munich.
Ich möchte nach München fahren.
I want to buy a roundtrip ticket to Munich
Ich möchte ein Hin- und Rückfahrticket nach München kaufen or simply ein Hin- und Rückfahrticket nach München bitte. or even easier: Einmal München hin und zurück, bitte.
Where is the subway station?
Wo ist die U-Bahn Haltestelle?

At the Hotel

I have a room reservation. What is the earliest I can check in?
Ich habe eine Hotelreservierung. Wann kann ich frühestens einchecken?
When do I have to check out?
Wann muss ich auschecken?
Is breakfast included in the room cost?
Ist das Zimmer inklusive Frühstück?
Where can I have breakfast?
Wo kann ich frühstücken?

At the Restaurant

A Coke please
Eine Cola bitte
Where is the rest room located?
Wo sind die Toiletten?
I would like to have the Schnitzel with fried potatoes
Ich hätte gern das Schnitzel mit Bratkartoffeln
The bill please
Die Rechnung bitte


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    • LiliMarlene profile image

      Elisabeth Meier 

      4 years ago

      Well, by the way... I'm native German as well (so far concerning your 'he he' - very nice)and would not agree that language skills are only to find in the "younger generation" or only in big cities (which will need a definition itself from my point of view) as these "youngsters" mostly are worse educated than the over 30s. Just think about the PISA tests! But then, I totally agree, it's a question of which kind of school you attended.

      Further, you mention what you want to teach, but the examples you list here are not what you describe in this comment now. While reading your article I just thought about someone who doesn't know much German and would like to use your expressions. I imagined how they would stumble around. These examples simply are too complicated to be helpful on a trip where you need to know how to say something fast and to the point. This was my only concern. Don't know what you mean with "Was fun" but I hope you have fun. Good luck for all your projects.

    • Jennifer Madison profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Madison 

      4 years ago from Lohmar

      If you say Europeans usually understand English, you probably mean the younger generations. Obviously in Hamburg, Berlin, München and Köln you could get by WITHOUT knowing a single word of German, I have American friends who have told me all about it. But I live in a smaller town and I know that in smaller towns, it is a lot harder to find someone who speaks English. And you are also referring to the höhere Bildungsschichten. I don't want to generalize but it will be harder to find someone from the Hauptschule to say a sentence in English that actually makes sense than someone from the Gymnasium or Realschule or someone who has studied at university.

      It is true that Germans might say it the way you wrote (by the way I am German, born and raised there, hehe) but I am a German teacher (check out germanwithjenny on Youtube) and before teaching my students colloquial stuff which wouldn't make sense to them, I teach them complete sentences and structures which they can apply in other sentences and in a variety of different situations. "Ich möchte" can be used in multiple different ways while "hin und zurück" is used in one or two occasions and that's it.

      I like your sentence about the Zimmer better, actually, so I might use it, thanks ;)

      German grammar? Not easy? makes it easy ;)

      Hat Spaß gemacht :D

    • LiliMarlene profile image

      Elisabeth Meier 

      4 years ago

      The expressions are not quite correct, but we mostly don't say it this way but much shorter and btw - we Europeans usually understand English. lol.

      Just tow examples because all would be worth an own article:

      Ist das Frühstück im Zimmer inklusive can be understand as if you would like to get your breakfast in your room. Just ask "Ist das (Zimmer) inklusive Frühstück?" which means "Is it inclusive breakfast?" It's not impolite to ask this way.

      Then: "Ich möchte ein Hin- und Rückfahrticket nach München kaufen or simply ein Hin- und Rückfahrticket nach München bitte." Nobody would say this as it is simply too long. Germans are not that complicated. "Einmal München hin und zurück, bitte!" is what we would say.

      It's always better to learn German from native German or in the country as the grammar is not that easy and you need a certain feeling for situations. Without this you can make a lot of mistakes which lead to misunderstandings and confusion.

    • Shawn Scarborough profile image

      Shawn Scarborough 

      7 years ago from The Lone Star State

      This is a great hub. This will be very useful for anyone traveling to Germany. I have bookmarked this page so I will have this information if I take a trip to Germany in the future.


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