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The Alphabet in German (das deutsche Alphabet)

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:

UppercaseLowercaseIPA
Aa[a:]
Bb[be:]
Cc[tse:]
Dd[de:]
Ee[e:]
Ff[εf]
Gg[ge:]
Hh[ha:]
Ii[i:]
Jj[jοt]
Kk[ka:]
Ll[εl]
Mm[εm]
Nn[εn]
Oo[o:]
Pp[pe:]
Qq[ku:]
Rr[εr:]
Ss[εs]
Tt[te:]
Uu[u:]
Vv[fau:]
Ww[ve:]
Xx[iks]
Yy[ypsilεn]
Zz[tsεt]
ÄäA-Umlaut
ÖöO-Umlaut
ÜüU-Umlaut
ßEszett
The Alphabet in German

Notes:

  • 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.

GermanEnglish
Hotelhotel
Alphabetalphabet
Busbus
Ballball
Clubclub
Handhand
Garagegarage
Gasgas
Journalistjournalist
Landland
Mineralmineral
Museummuseum
Namename
Pausepause
Systemsystem
The Alphabet in German

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.

IE

The combination of German letters “e” and “i” produces a sound similar to the English word “sheep”.

vielmuch
siebenseven
Liebelove
wiehow
WienVienna
IE

EI

ei“diphthong is pronounced like the y in the English word of “my”.

eina
arbeitento work
deinyour
heißebe called
Weinwine
EI

AU

a and u produces a sound similar to “ow” in the English word “now

blaublue
Frauwoman
bauenbuilt
Bauerfarmer
Augeeye
AU

EU (ÄU)

The combination of letters “e” and “u” gives a sound like the “oy” in the English word “boy

heutetoday
euereyours
neunew
freuenbe happy
Euroeuro
Fräulein young lady
EU ( ÄU)

Consonant Combinations in German

We will explore the various consonant combinations in German and how they are pronounced.

tsch

The combination of letters “tsch” produces a sound similar to “ch” in the English word “which

DeutschGerman
DeutschlandGermany
Dolmetscherinterpreter
tsch

dsch

Dschungeljungle
tsch

sch

sch generates a sound of “sh” like in the English word “show”

Schuleschool
Tischtable
TürkischTurkish
sch

chs

The combination of “chs” produces a sound similar to the letter “x”.

sechssix
Fuchstable
Wachswax
chs

ch

ichI
michme
Nachtnight
ch

ck

Stückpiece
Stickersticker
Picknickpicnic
ck

st

startto start
Stadtcity
Straßestreet
st

sp

SportSports
SpanienSpain
spielento play
sp

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