The German Alphabet (das deutsche Alphabet)


The alphabet

The German alphabet is very similar to that of English but it has four letters that English does not have: ä, ö, ü and ß.

In English, to make the pronunciation and spelling of a word clear, we say "B as in burger" but in German they use names to spell and those names are fixed.

a [a:]Anton
b [be:]Berta
c [tse:]Cäsar
d [de:]Dora
e [e:]Emil
f [εf]Friedrich
g [ge:]Gustav
h [ha:]Heinrich
i [i:]Ida
j [jοt]Julius
k [ka:]Kaufmann
l [εl]Ludwig
m [εm]Martha
n [εn]Nordpol
o [o:]Otto
p [pe:]Paula
q [ku:]Quelle
r [εr:]Richard
s [εs]Samuel
t [te:]Theodor
u [u:]Ulrich
v [fau:]Viktor
w [ve:]Wilhelm
x [iks]Xanthippe
y [ypsilεn]Ypsilon
z [tsεt]Zacharias
ä A-UmlautÄrger
ö O-UmlautÖkonom
ü U-UmlautÜbermut
ßEszett or scharfes S--

  • the ß does not exist in Swiss German and is substituted for with ss.
  • Do not confuse ß (Eszett) with β (beta).
  • If your keyboard does not have äöü and ß, you can use aeoeue and ss instead, respectively.

List of punctuation signs and writing symbols

It is very useful to know how to say the following in German: Punctuation signs, different parenthesis and some symbols frequently used such as the at sign and asterisk.

.der Punktpoint
,das Kommacomma
;das Semikolonsemicolon
:der Doppelpunkt
das Kolon
...die Auslassungspunkte ellipsis
?das Fragezeichenquestion mark
!das Ausrufezeichenexclamation mark
"das Anführungzeichenquotation marks
'der Apostrophapostrophe
das Leerzeichenspace
( )



die (runde) Klammern

die linke Klammer
die Klammer auf

die rechte Klammer
die Klammer zu

the left parentheses
opening parentheses

the right parentheses
closing parentheses
[ ]die eckigen Klammernsquare brackets
< >die spitzen Klammerninequality signs
{ }die geschweiften Klammern
die geschwungenen Klammern
curly brackets
/der Schrägstrichslash
\der umgekehrte Schrägstrichbackslash
_der Unterstrichunderstrike
-der Viertelgeviertstrichhyphen
|der senkrechte Strichpipe
@das At-Zeichenat sign
#das Rautenzeichennumber sign
&das Et-Zeichen
das Kaufmannsund
~die Tildetilde
*das Sternchen
der Asteriskus
´der Akutacute accent

The hyphen and its functions

The typographical sign hyphen "-" is called the following in German:

der Viertelgeviertstrich

The same typographical sign has a different name depending on its function:

  • der Bindestrich. Hyphen for joining 2 words. Ex: die E-Mail, Baden-Wurtemberg
  • der Trennstrich. Hyphen for dividing a word when it doesn't fit on one line.
  • der Ergänzungsstrich. Hyphen for indicating that part of a word has been omitted because it was redundant. Ex: Ein- und Ausgänge (instead of saying Eingänge und Ausgänge)

Quotation marks in German

When putting a text in Germany and in Austria in quotation marks, it is preferable to use the symbol „ (Anführungszeichen unten) when starting an expression and the symbol ” (Anführungszeichen oben) when finishing it.

Descartes sagte: Ich denke, also bin ich
Descartes said: "I think, therefore I am"

As you can see that the quotation marks in German start on the bottom and finish on top, compared to the top only in English

Less often, the single quotation marks are also used:

Descartes sagte: Ich denke, also bin ich