Introducing yourself in German using 'sein'

Being able to greet someone and introduce yourself is useful when speaking a foreign language. These phrases will help you begin a conversation in German.

Greetings

The time of day and how well you know the person you are speaking to should help you choose which greeting to use.

Look at the vocabulary in the table below. Can you write a dialogue to greet someone?

GermanEnglish
hallohello
guten Morgengood morning
guten Taggood day
guten Abendgood evening
gute Nachtgood night
tschüssbye
bis baldsee you soon
auf Wiedersehengoodbye

All German nouns start with a capital letter.

Saying how you are

To ask how someone is, use the question wie geht’s? This literally means 'how is it going?’ in German.

To say how you are, use the following phrases:

GermanEnglish
sehr gut, dankevery good, thanks
und dir?and you?
gutgood
sehr gutvery good
tollgreat
nicht schlechtnot bad
nicht so gutnot so good
furchtbarawful

Saying your name

The verb heißen is used to ask someone their name:

  • Wie heißt du? - What is your name? (This literally means ‘how are you called?’)
  • Ich heiße - I am called
  • Ich heiße Hayley - I am called Hayley

To ask the question back, you could repeat wie heißt du? or simply ask und du? (and you?).

You can also say mein Name ist Hayley (my name is Hayley).

The letter ß is called an Eszett. It is a double ‘s’.

Saying your age

To say how old you are, use the verb sein (to be). You need to conjugate the verb depending on whether you are saying your age (ich bin - I am) or someone else’s age (er/sie ist - he/she is). Conjugate means changing the endings of a verb to match the person doing the action.

  • Wie alt bist du? - How old are you?
  • Ich bin zwölf Jahre alt - I am 12 years old.
  • Sie ist dreizehn Jahre alt – She is 13 years old.
  • Er ist elf Jahre alt - He is 11 years old.

When forming numbers 13-19 add -zehn (meaning 10) to 3-9. For example, dreizehn (13), vierzehn (14).

But watch out for the exceptions! The spelling of sechzehn (16) does not include the s from sechs and sieben is shortened in siebzehn (17).

Saying where you live

To talk about where you live, use the verb wohnen (to live):

  • Wo wohnst du? - Where do you live?
  • Ich wohne - I live
  • Ich wohne in Manchester - I live in Manchester.
  • Ich wohne in Leeds - I live in Leeds.

Saying your nationality

Where you live is sometimes different to where you are from. To talk about your nationality, you can use words like Engländer (English) or Pakistaner (Pakistani).

To talk about someone who is female, add -in to the end:

  • Engländer (English male)
  • Engländerin (English female)

Use the verb sein to say your nationality. Remember that this is an irregular verb so is ich bin (I am) and er/sie ist (he/she is).

  • Ich bin Engländer(in) - I am English.
  • Er ist Inder - He is Indian.
  • Sie ist Inderin - She is Indian.

Watch out for exceptions!

  • Er ist Deutscher - He is German
  • Sie ist Deutsche - She is German

You can find some useful vocabulary in the table below:

GermanEnglish
ich binI am
Engländer (m) / Engländerin (f)English
Deutscher (m) / Deutsche (f)German
Pole (m) / Polin (f)Polish
Rumäne (m) / Rumänin (f)Romanian
Pakistaner (m) / Pakistanerin (f)Pakistani
Inder (m) / Inderin (f)Indian

Saying where you come from

Use the verb kommen to say which country you come from. Kommen is a regular verb in the present tense.

  • Woher kommst du? - Where do you come from?
  • Ich komme aus - I come from

The conjugations of kommen are in the table below:

SubjectVerb
ichkomme
dukommst
erkommt
siekommt
  • Ich komme aus Schottland - I come from Scotland.
  • Du kommst aus Wales - You come from Wales.
  • Er kommt aus England - He comes from England.
  • Sie kommt aus Nordirland - She comes from Northern Ireland.

For more vocabulary related to age and nationality, click the downloadable below.

Age and nationality
document

Saying please and thank you

Good manners are equally important in German as they are in English. Here are a few ways to say please and thank you in German:

GermanEnglish
dankethank you
dankeschönthank you
vielen Dankmany thanks
bitte please/you’re welcome

Quiz

Listen to the conversation between Emily and Michael and test your understanding in this short quiz!

Emily and Michael

Where next?

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