In this lesson, you will be learning the alphabet in German, what the letters sound like and how they are written.
The Alphabet in German
The first step toward learning German is to learn the alphabet because it will allow you to speak and write correctly.
The German alphabet has 26 letters, from A to Z and it is pretty similar to their English counterparts. However, there are also four extra letters: Three of them is called “Umlaut” (Ä ä, Ö ö, Ü ü) and one is called Eszett or scharfes S (ẞ ß).
Consonants and vowels all have different sounds, so it is important to know them if you want to pronounce German words correctly. The table below will show all the letters, how they sound and how they are written:
- The letter ß does not exist in Swiss German and is therefore replaced by ss.
- Do not confuse the letter ß (Eszett) with the Greek letter β (beta).
- If your keyboard does not have ä, ö, ü and ß, you can use ae, oe, ue and ss respectively. However, it is still possible to write these letters with different alternatives on keyboard:
Alt + 0196 = Ä
Alt + 0228 = ä
Alt + 0214 = Ö
Alt + 0246 = ö
Alt + 0220 = Ü
Alt + 0252 = ü
Alt + 0223 = ß
German can be a tough language to learn for English speakers, especially when it comes to pronunciation. In the table below, some German words are given with pronunciation buttons.
Diphthongs in German
Diphthongs are a type of vowel sound that can be pronounced as two simple vowels without a break. This is different from a long vowel, which is a single sound.
That is why they are called Diphthongs – meaning “two sounds” in Greek.
The German language has four diphthongs: EI, IE, AU and EU. However, these sounds can vary in terms of pronunciation depending on the word’s meaning and dialect.
By learning how to pronounce these four letters in German, you can speak more fluently and with a better accent.
The combination of German letters “e” and “i” produces a sound similar to the English word “sheep”.
“ei“diphthong is pronounced like the y in the English word of “my”.
a and u produces a sound similar to “ow” in the English word “now“
The combination of letters “e” and “u” gives a sound like the “oy” in the English word “boy”
Consonant Combinations in German
We will explore the various consonant combinations in German and how they are pronounced.
The combination of letters “tsch” produces a sound similar to “ch” in the English word “which“
sch generates a sound of “sh” like in the English word “show”
The combination of “chs” produces a sound similar to the letter “x”.