German Alphabet

Learn the German alphabet and improve your knowledge of the German language with this easy-to-follow free online German lesson with audio. Learning the alphabet in German is, of course, an essential step to learning German. 

Interestingly, similar to the English alphabet, the German alphabet is derived from the Latin alphabet with a few extra German characters added in for good measure.

There are four extra characters in total - these will be discussed later in the lesson - the other 26 letters are identical to those used in English.

As you will see, however, many of the German letters are pronounced differently to their English equivalents. On a positive note, though, unlike in the English language, German words are - on the whole - pronounced exactly as they are spelled.

Right, let's learn 26 letters of the German alphabet which we are already familiar with:

(N.B. The 'example word' pronunciation will differ to the letter pronunciation in some cases, as in English. To fully understand this, let's take an example in English: the letter 'c' is pronounced differently to the 'c' found in 'cat'.)

The German Alphabet

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German Alphabet

Letter Pronunciation Example word and its pronunciation English translation
A a
ah Ameise (ah-meise) ant
B b
bay bauen (bau-en) to build
C c
tsay Cent (tsent) cent
D d
day Dorf (dorf) village
E e
ay Esel (esel) donkey
F f
eff finden (fin-den) to find
G g
gay gehen (gay-ehn) to go / walk
H h
hah Haus (house) house
I i
ee Insel (een-zel) island
J j
yot ja (yah) yes
K k
kah kaufen (kau-fen) to buy
L l
ell laufen (lau-fen) to run
M m
emm Maus (mouse) mouse
N n
enn Norden (nord-en) north
O o
oh oder (oh-duh) or
P p
pay parken (par-ken) to park
Q q
koo Quelle (kvell-a) source
R r
air Rot (roht) red
S s
ess Süd (zood) south
T t
tay Tisch (tish) table
U u
oo unter (uhn-ter) below
V v
fow Vogel (fohg-el) bird
W w
vay Wasser (vass-er) water
X x
ix Taxi (tahk-see) taxi
Y y
uepsilon physisch (fuez-ish) physical
Z z
tset Zoll (tzoll) customs duty

Now you have learned these 26 letters, let's turn our attention to the four extra special German characters:

Character Pronunciation Example word and its pronunciation English translation
Ä ä
ay später (shpayt-ur) later
Ö ö
uo hören (huo-ren) to hear
Ü ü
uu schwül (shvuul) humid
es-tset Fuß (foos) foot

The two dots above the first three characters are called 'umlauts'. The fourth character (ß) is called a 'scharfes S' in German - or in English a 'sharp s.'

Typing German Umlauts and 'ß' on a Windows PC

Step 1: Ensure the Number Lock is turned on

Step 2: Press down the left handside 'Alt' key

Step 3: While holding down the 'Alt' key, type in the following number combinations for your desired character:

ß - Alt 0223

ä - Alt 0228

ö - Alt 0246

ü - Alt 0252

Ä - Alt 0196

Ö - Alt 0214

Ü - Alt 0220

Typing German Umlauts and 'ß' on a MAC

Hold down the OPTION key and press 's' to get 'ß'. To get the umlauts you should hold down the OPTION key and then type 'u'. You should then release the OPTION key and then type in your desired base character (i.e. a, o, u, A, O, U).

If all else fails...

If you do not have these German characters on your keyboard or are unable to insert them, the alternative spellings are as follows: ä = ae, ü = ue, ö = oe and ß = ss.

Now you have learned the German alphabet, why not learn some simple German numbers? Learn how to count in German from 0 to 10 and up to 100 and beyond with my free and easy-to-follow online lesson.

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