German Alphabet

The letters in the German alphabet are the same as in English; however, there are four more letters which you will come across in the German language: ä, ö, ü and ß. However, these extra four letters are not part of the alphabet. Once you are familiar with the pronunciation of the German language you will find German can be spoken quite smoothly without using too much spit and harsh, abrupt endings!

How to pronounce the German Alphabet

Below is the German alphabet with a word giving the approximate pronunciation of the letter. Be aware that that the pronunciation of the letter by itself can differ from when it’s used in German words.

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AlphabetPronunciationGerman Word (With translation)
AAhArm (arm)
BBehBaby (baby)
CTsehCelsius (celsius)
DDehDebatte (debate)
EEhEskimo (eskimo)
FEffFamilie (family)
GGehGold (gold)
HHahHaus (house)
IIhIdee (idea)
JYottJanuar (january)
KKahKaffee (coffee)
LEllLampe (lamp)
MEmmMutter (mother)
NEnnNase (nose)
OOhOzean (ocean)
PPehPause (pause)
QKuhQuiz (quiz)
RErrRegen (rain)
SEssSalami (salami)
TTehTelefon (telephone)
UUhUhr (clock)
VFauVater (father)
WVehWilkommen (welcome)
XIksX-Beine (knock-knees)
YYpsilonYoga (yoga)
ZTzettZombie (zombie)

Did you notice the many similarities between German and English words!

Extra Letters

The dots above the extra letters ä, ö and ü create a sharper sound, made more in the front of your mouth. These are called “Umlaute”. You don’t have to decide whether to put dots on these vowels, these come standard with certain words. They can also be written as ae, oe, and ue, but this is less common.

This unusual looking letter ß, which looks like a B is called “esszett” and is another symbol for a double ss. The ß produces a sharp s- sound like the hissing of a snake as in “Ich heiße”, “I’m called”. There are no words that start with ß, so you will only ever come across it in lower case.

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UmlautApproximate English SoundGerman Example
ÄcatMädchen (girl)
ÄcatKäse (cheese)
ÖturnÖffnung (opening)
Öturnschön (nice)
ÜJerusalemfünf (five)
ÜJerusalemTür (door)

Here are a few recommended German lessons to try next!

Bis bald!
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Paul Weber
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