Welcome to this free German lesson on consonants!
Most German consonants are pronounced similar to English, but there are some differences. These German consonants are fairly easy to pronounce, and easier to master than the vowel sounds, as long as you remember the rules.
Let's check out the German consonants!
How to pronounce German consonants
Consonant Pronunciation German Word (With translation) B p Lieb (kind) D t Bad (bath) G k Tag (day) St sht Student (student) Sp shp Sprache (language) J y Jacke (jacket) W v Woche (week) Z ts Zimmer (room) Ch k/kh Bauch (stomach), Kirche (church), Chaos (chaos)
Consonants 'b', 'd' and 'g' are pronounced like 'p', 't' and 'k' when at the end of a word.
When ‘ch’ follows the short/long vowel sounds of ‘a, o, u, or ‘au’, the sound is produced towards the back of the throat, similar to making a ‘k’ sound. However, it is less abrupt still letting through air, eg. Bauch (stomach), Tochter (daughter) When ‘ch’ follows the short/long versions of the vowels ‘e, i, ä, ö, ü’ and ‘ei, eu, äu’ the sound is produced more at the front of the mouth, the tongue and the mouth being a lot flatter. Imagine the sound of gas leaking or a hissing cat, eg. ich (I), Kirche (church) 'Ch' can also be pronounced like a 'k', for example Chaos (chaos) or Wachs (wax).
More German consonants
Consonant: ß Pronunciation: ss
'ß' is a consonant that does not exist in the English language, but it is pronounced with a double 'ss' sound, as in the English "miss", or the German 'weiß' (white). The general rule is that ß is used in front of long vowels, otherwise the double 'ss' is used.
Consonant: Ig Pronunciation: like "ich"
When at the end of a word, 'ig' this is pronounced like the soft 'ch' sound, as in 'ich' or 'Kirche' above. Words like 'traurig' (sad), use this sound.
Consonant: Qu Pronunciation: kv
'Qu' is pronounced like 'kv', as in 'bequem', (comfortable).
Consonant: Ng Pronunciation: like in "singer"
'Ng' does not have a hard sound in German, like in the English 'singer'.
Consonant: Tion Pronunciation: tsion
The cluster 'tion', as in 'Endstation' (end of the line), is pronounced with a 'z' sound.
end of line
Consonant: Age Pronunciation: like the French"j"
At the end of French-imported nouns, the 'g' in 'age' has a French 'j' sound.