das deutsche Alphabet – the German Alphabet

In this lesson I teach you how to spell things in German using the German alphabet (das deutsche Alphabet). I also teach you how to ask someone how to spell something.

This lesson is a part of Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“. Within the e-book, this lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills you are about to learn. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here.

das deutsche Alphabet

A

Pronounced like “ah”. This is what your doctor tells you to say when you are supposed to open wide.

B

Pronounced like “beh”. This is like that incredibly dumb English slang word “bae”, but instead of ending with a “Y” sound, you end with your mouth straight as it was at the beginning of the sound.

C

Pronounced like “tseh”. Like “say”, but with a “T” at the beginning and again not that “Y” sound at the end.

D

Pronounced like “deh”. Like “day”, but… you guessed it, no “Y” sound.

E

Pronounced like “eh”. Like the previous three letters, but without the consonant in front.

F

Pronounced like “ef”. It’s literally the same as the English letter.

G

Pronounced like “geh”. This is where it becomes important that you don’t pronounce the letter with the “Y” sound at the end.

H

Pronounced like “ha”. This is the sound that some of you made when I said the last letter.

I

Pronounced like “ih”. Sounds like the English long “E” sound. This also explains why the German long “I” sound is more like the English long “E” sound.

J

Pronounced like “jott”. Like a “yacht”, but instead of pronouncing it like a short “A” in the middle, say it like a German short “O” sound.

K

Pronounced like “kah” Like a person from Boston trying to say “car”.

L

Pronounced like “ell”. It is the exact same in English.

M

Pronounced like “em”. It is the exact same in English.

N

Pronounced like “en”. It is the exact same in English.

O

Pronounced like “oh”. In English we have a tendency to make this sound like it has a “W” at the end, but in German it is a straight “O” sound.

P

Pronounced like “peh” . Like “pay”, but again without the “Y” sound at the end.

Q

Pronounced like “kuh”. This is also the German word for a cow. Think of the word “cool” and then chop off the “L” at the end.

R

Pronounced like “err”. Think of the place where you wave your hands sometimes and sing “AYO”… you know “air”, but in English we barely pronounce the “R” and the same is true here. If you want, you can add a bit of that consonant “R” sound I taught you in the second video.

S

Pronounced like “ess”. It is the exact same as in English.

ß

Pronounced like “eszett”. It is like a combination of the German letters “S” and “Z”, which is why it is “eszett”. It’s pronounced like a sharp ‘s’ and used to indicate that the vowel in front of it is long.

T

Pronounced like “teh”. Like a nickname for someone named Taylor, Tay-Tay, but again without the “Y” sound, teh-teh.

U

Pronounced like “uh”. Like you are standing in amazement at something “oooooo”, but you don’t drag it out as long. uh

V

Pronounced like “fau”. As I mentioned in the consonant pronunciation video, the letter “V” in German is most often pronounced as an “F” sound. This is the reason for the letters name being “fau”. Think of the word “foul”, but lose the “L” at the end.

W

Pronounced like “weh”. Like the expression “oy vey”, but… everyone together now… without the “Y” sound at the end.

X

Pronounced like “iks”. How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? The “icks” sound at the end of the word “licks” is exactly what you are looking for with this letter. X is in fact just “ks”.

Y

Pronounced like “ypsilon”. When I mess up I usually say “oops”, but if you modify your vowel sound to make it sound more like the German “ü” sound, you end up with “üps”. If I ever open a hair salon in German, I am going to name it “Y”, because it is a salon that makes a lot of mistakes, because I can’t cut hair. It would be the “üps” salon.

Z

Pronounced like “tset”. Think of the “ts” at the end of “hats”. Then simply add “et” to the “ts” and you end up with the letter “Z” in German.

Umlaute

In German Ä, Ö, Ü are referred to as the Umlaute. You can say these letters as “A mit Umlaut”, “O mit Umlaut” and “U mit Umlaut”, but officially they are Ä, Ö and Ü. You should only use the “mit Umlaut” options if you are clarifying what you said, because someone misunderstood you.

There are short and long umlaut sounds in German, but when reading the letters out, you default to the long vowel sound. This means Ä is pronounced like “eh”, which is very similar to the letter E. Ö is pronounced by putting the outside of your mouth in an O shape and moving your tongue on the inside of your mouth to as if to form an E. This gives you “oe”. The Ü is formed in a similar way, but the outside of your mouth forms like a U. This sound ends up being very similar to the letter I in German.

How do You Spell That?

If you need someone to spell something in German, the proper way to ask this is “Wie buchstabieren Sie das?“, which translates as “How do you spell that?” You can also phrase it as “Wie buchstabiert man das?“, which is “How does one spell that?”

das deutsche Alphabet Skit #1

B: Herzlich Willkommen bei Mastercard. Ich bin Fred. Darf ich nach Ihrem Namen fragen?
B: Welcome to Mastercard. I am Fred. May I ask for your name?

A: Ich heiße Levi Antrim.
A: I am Levi Antrim

B: Wie buchstabiert man das?
B: How do you spell that?

A: L-E-V-I.

B: Und ihren Nachnamen?
B: And your last name?

A: A-N-T-R-I-M

Jetzt buchstabieren wir alles!

B: Woher kommen Sie?
B: Where are you from?

A: Ich komme aus Edwardsville.
A: I come from Edwardsville.

B: Wie buchstabiert man das?
B: How do you spell that?

A: E-D-W-A-R-D-S-V-I-L-L-E

B: In welchem Land befindet sich Edwardsville?
B: In which country is Edwardsville located?

A: Edwardsville liegt in Illinois in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika.
A: Edwardsville is located in the United States of America.

B: Wie buchstabiert man das?
B: How do you spell that?

A: I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S

B: Nein, ich meine “Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika”.
B: No, I mean “United States of America”.

A: Sie wissen nicht, wie man “Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika” buchstabiert?
A: You don’t know how to spell “United States of America”?

B: Genau. Deshalb frage ich.
B: Exactly. That’s why I’m asking.

A: Ok… V-E-R-E-I-N-I-G-T-E S-T-A-A-T-E-N V-O-N A-M-E-R-I-K-A Darf ich jetzt aufhören alles zu buchstabieren?
A: Ok… V-E-R-E-I-N-I-G-T-E S-T-A-A-T-E-N V-O-N A-M-E-R-I-K-A May I stop spelling everything now?

das deutsche Alphabet Skit #2

A: Meine Damen und Herren, herzlich Willkommen zum fünfzehnten jährlichen Buchstabierwettbewerb. Heute fangen wir mit Leon an, der zehnjährige Junge aus Potsdam. Leon, bist du bereit?
A: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the fifteenth annual spelling bee. Today we are starting with Leon, the ten year old boy from Potsdam. Are you ready, Leon?

Leon: Ja.
Leon: Yes.

A: Ok. Dein erstes Wort lautet “Zebrastreifen”.
A: Ok. Your first word is “zebra stripes” (German for crosswalk stripes)

Leon: Ok. Zebrastreifen. Z-E-B-R-A-S-T-R-E-I-F-E-N
Leon: Ok. Zebra stripes. Z-E-B-R-A-S-T-R-E-I-F-E-N

A: Gut gemacht. Dein nächstes Wort lautet “Chinesisch”.
A: Well done. Your next word is “Chinese”.

Leon: Chinesisch. C-H-I-N-E-S-I-S-C-H
Leon: Chinese. C-H-I-N-E-S-I-S-C-H

A: Noch einmal richtig. Nächstes Wort “Joghurt”.
A: Correct again. Next word “yogurt”.

Leon: Joghurt. J-O-G-H-U-R-T
Leon: Yogurt. J-O-G-H-U-R-T

Let’s try something complicated

A: Und das letzte Wort für heute. Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.
A: And the last word for today. Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. (a law for the oversight of labeling beef)

Leon: Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. P-Q-U-X-Y.
Leon: That law for labeling beef. P-Q-U-X-Y.

A: Leider ist das Falsch. Vielleicht klappt’s beim nächsten Mal.
A: Unfortunately that is incorrect. Better luck next time.

Beginner German with Herr Antrim

Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“ is your guide to having your first conversation in German. Within the e-book, each lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills in that lesson. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here.

Lessons within “Beginner German with Herr Antrim”

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
German Learning Materials