German/Level I/Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)

This lesson deals with basic conversation topics such as saying hello and goodbye and asking people how they are feeling. This lesson features audio recordings by native speakers to help you with the pronunciation.

Germans usually shake hands when they are introduced or introduce themselves.

Dialogue edit

Read and listen to the following dialogue between two students: Franz and Greta. You don't have to understand anything! You should rather try to find out how each word is pronounced.

Dialogue:   What's your name? (1st Part) —   Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)
Franz Hallo, ich bin Franz. Wie heißt du?
Greta Hallo, Franz. Ich heiße Greta. Wie geht's?
Franz Es geht mir gut. Kennst du den Lehrer?
Greta Ja, er heißt Herr Weiß.
Franz Oh, danke, Greta. Bis dann!
Greta Wiedersehen!
Problems: Listen carefully!
The German pronunciation of many letters is similar to the English pronunciation, but there are also many differences. Try to answer the following question by listening carefully. Write your answers on a piece of paper or in a text file before you check them.
  1. How is the "a" in "Hallo", "Franz", "Greta", "ja", "danke", and "dann" pronounced?
  2. How is the "i" in "ich" and "bis" pronounced?
  3. How is the "ch" in "ich" pronounced?
  4. How is the "z" in "Franz" pronounced?
  5. How is the "w" in "wie", "Weiß" and "wiedersehen" pronounced?
  6. How is the "ie" in "wie" and "Wiedersehen" pronounced?
  7. How is the "ei" in "heißt", "heiße" and "Weiß" pronounced?
  8. How is the "ß" in "heißt", "heiße" and "Weiß" pronounced?
  9. How is the "e" in "es", "kennst", "er" and "Herr" pronounced?
  10. How is the first "e" in "gehen", "Greta", and "geht" pronounced?
  11. How is the “s” in “wiedersehen” pronounced?
  12. How is the “j” in “Ja” pronounced?
  1. Similar to the "a" in "hard".
  2. Similar to the "i" in "hit".
  3. Similar to, but not entirely like, the “Sh” as in English “shell.” The sound in German needs the tongue to be quite hardly pressed against the top of your mouth, then the air is somewhat forced out through.
  4. "z" is pronounced like "ts".
  5. Similar to the "v" in "vat".
  6. Similar to the "ee" in "meet".
  7. "ei" is pronounced like "ai" in German or like the "i" in the English word "time".
  8. "ß" is a ligature (combination letter) of a double s (“ss”). pronounced like "s". It is always a soft “S.” Always like “sound” but never like a “z.”
  9. Similar to "e" in "pet".
  10. This is a long German "e"; the sound doesn't exist in English. It is between the "i" in "hit" and the "e" in "pet". The sound is like the “a” in “day,” without the “y.”
  11. “S” in German is always pronounced hard like an English “z” at the start and in the middle of words. Before other consonants or at the end of a word, it is soft like an English “s” in “soft.”
  12. “J” in German is always pronounced like the “y” in “yes” (which by the way is what “Ja” means).

Now try to understand the dialogue with the help of the following list of vocabulary. (A complete translation is given in the answers to the next problems.)

Vocabulary:   What's your name? (1st Part) —   Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)
English German
Hello! Hallo!
I ich
I am... Ich bin ...
how wie
you du
Your name is... Du heißt ...
What is your name? Wie heißt du?
My name is... Ich heiße ...
it es
it goes es geht
How is it going? Wie geht's? (Longer: Wie geht es?)
me mir
good gut
I'm good. Es geht mir gut. (Shorter: Mir geht's gut. Even shorter: Gut.)
you know du kennst
Do you know...? Kennst du ...?
teacher Lehrer
yes ja
he er
His name is... Er heißt ...
Mr. Herr
oh oh
thanks danke
until bis
then dann
See you! Bis dann!
on auf
again wieder
(to) see sehen
Goodbye! (Auf) Wiedersehen!
Problems: Working with the dialogue
  1. Translate the dialogue to English with the help of the list of vocabulary. Write your translation on a piece of paper before you check it.
  2. Listen to the recording without reading and try to understand the meaning of the words. If you cannot remember some words, look them up and start again.
  3. Read the dialogue aloud. Compare your pronunciation with the pronunciation of the recording.
  4. Listen to the recording without reading and write down the dialogue in German. Pause the playback after each sentence to write down what you have heard. Repeat this exercise until you know the spelling of the German words.
  1. Translation to English:
    Franz: Hello, I am Franz. What is your name?
    Greta: Hello, Franz. My name is Greta. How is it going?
    Franz: I'm good. Do you know the teacher?
    Greta: Yes, his name is Mr. Weiß.
    Franz: Oh, thanks, Greta. See you!
    Greta: Goodbye!
  2. See the dialogue.

Hellos and Goodbyes edit

There are many ways of saying hello and goodbye in German; some of them are:

Vocabulary:   Greetings —   Grüße
English German
Hello! Hallo!*
Servus! (used in southern Germany and eastern Austria, informal)
Moin! (used in northern Germany)
Good morning! Moin Moin! (used in northern Germany)
Guten Morgen!*
Morgen! (shorter)
Good day! Guten Tag!*
Tag! (used in Germany, shorter)
Good evening! Guten Abend!*
Hello! Grüß Gott! (used in southern Germany, Austria and South Tyrol)
Goodbye! Auf Wiedersehen!*
Wiedersehen! (shorter)
Bye! Tschüss!*
Tschau! (also spelled "ciao" as in Italian)
Servus! (used in southern Germany and eastern Austria, informal)
See you later! Bis später!*
See you! Bis dann!*
Bis bald!*
See you soon! Bis gleich!
Good night! Gute Nacht!*

*You will need to know each expression with an asterisk (*) after it. The others, of course, would be useful to know if you are traveling to regions where they are used. (As you can see, the different German-speaking regions often have their own ways of saying hello and goodbye. However, you will not be required to know any of these less common phrases for any problems or tests.)

The more formal phrases are guten Morgen, guten Tag, and auf Wiedersehen. The less formal ones are tschüss, Tag, servus, and ciao. The others are somewhat inbetween formal and informal.

Problems: Hellos and goodbyes
How would you say hello and goodbye in these situations:
  1. You meet a friend in the morning.
  2. You meet a teacher in the classroom in the afternoon.
  3. You meet a classmate in the evening.
  4. You talk to a shop assistant in the morning.
Avoiding local variants, these are some options:
  1. Hello: Hallo!/(Guten) Morgen!/(Guten) Tag! Goodbye: Tschüss!/Bis später!/Bis dann!/Bis bald!
  2. Hello: Guten Tag! Goodbye: Auf Wiedersehen.
  3. Hello: Hallo!/Guten Abend! Goodbye: Tschüss!/Bis dann!/Bis bald!
  4. Hello: Guten Morgen!/Guten Tag! Goodbye: (Auf) Wiedersehen!

Mr. and Mrs. edit

In German, Herr and Frau are used instead of Mr. and Mrs. before a last name; e.g., Mr. SchwarzHerr Schwarz.

Vocabulary:   Mr. & Ms. —   Herr und Frau
English German
Mr. Herr
Mrs. Frau

Frau is used for married and unmarried women. Some people still use MissFräulein in spoken German but it is no longer used in written German since it is considered an inappropriate discrimination of unmarried women.

Literally, der Herr means the gentleman and die Frau means the woman. If you use these words without a last name after them, you have to use an article before them; e.g., der Herr or die Frau. This is actually just like in English. For example:

  • The woman's name is Mrs. Weiß – Die Frau heißt Frau Weiß.

Note also that the German translation of the man is der Mann and the lady should be translated to die Dame. Thus, without last names you would rather use these pairs:

  • man and woman – Mann und Frau
  • men and women – Männer und Frauen
  • lady and gentleman – Dame und Herr
  • ladies and gentlemen – Damen und Herren

Problems: Mr. & Mrs.
Translate the following words and phrases to German:
  1. Mr. Schwarz
  2. the man
  3. The man's name is Mr. Schwarz.
  4. the woman
  5. The woman's name is Mrs. Schwarz.
  6. ladies and gentlemen
  1. Herr Schwarz
  2. der Mann
  3. Der Mann heißt Herr Schwarz.
  4. die Frau
  5. Die Frau heißt Frau Schwarz.
  6. Damen und Herren

Replies to Wie geht's? edit

There are many ways to reply to the question Wie geht's? Here are some of them:

Vocabulary:   How are you —   Wie geht's?
English German
How are you? Wie geht's? (longer: Wie geht es dir?)*
great prima
good gut
very good sehr gut
miserable miserabel
bad schlecht
not (so) good nicht (so) gut
O.K. ganz gut
all right Es geht so. (Or shorter: Geht so.)

*The more formal form is Wie geht es Ihnen?

After replying to the question, you could continue with:

  • And how are you? — Und wie geht es dir? (formal: Und wie geht es Ihnen?)

Or shorter:

  • And you? — Und dir? (or: Und selbst?; or formal: Und Ihnen?)

Problems: Wie geht's?
Fill in the blanks:
  1. _______ geht's?
  2. Prima. _______ dir?
  3. Es _______ so.
  4. Wie geht _______ Ihnen?
  5. Sehr _______. _______ selbst?
  6. Ganz _______, danke.
  1. Wie geht's?
  2. Prima. Und dir?
  3. Es geht so.
  4. Wie geht es Ihnen?
  5. Sehr gut. Und selbst?
  6. Ganz gut, danke.

Test edit

The test consists of three parts: pronunciation, vocabulary, and translation. As always, you should write down your answers before you check them. (Writing the German words is in fact a great way to practice the spelling of German words.) The vocabulary and translation problems are all from English to German because this is what you have to learn if you want to communicate in German. Once you are able to translate an English word to the corresponding German word, it won't be any problem to translate the German word back to English.

Problems: Pronunciation
  1. How do you pronounce "Ich heiße ..."?
  2. How do you pronounce "Franz"?
  3. How do you pronounce "Wiedersehen"?
  1. "i" as in "hit", "ch" as in "Loch", "h" as in "hotel", "ei" as the "i" in "times", "ß" is pronounced just like a "s", last "e" as in "pet"
  2. "f", "r", "n" similar to the English pronunciation of these letters, "a" as in "hard", "z" like "ts".
  3. "w" as the "v" in "vat", "ie" as the "ee" in "meet", "eh" is the long German "e" (between "i" in "hit" and a "e" in "pet"), the other letters are pronounced similarly in English.

Problems: Vocabulary
Translate from English to German:
  1. Mr.
  2. Good evening!
  3. how
  4. Good morning!
  5. teacher
  6. (the) man
  7. Good night!
  8. you
  9. (the) woman
  10. Bye!
  11. How are you?
  12. thanks
  13. bad
  14. Good day!
  15. I
  16. Goodbye!
  17. he
  18. See you later!
  19. Hello!
  20. very good
  21. Mrs.
  22. yes
  23. not (so) good
  1. Herr
  2. Guten Abend!
  3. wie
  4. Guten Morgen!
  5. Lehrer
  6. (der) Mann
  7. Gute Nacht!
  8. du
  9. (die) Frau
  10. Tschüss!
  11. Wie geht's?
  12. danke
  13. schlecht
  14. Guten Tag!
  15. ich
  16. Auf Wiedersehen!
  17. er
  18. Bis später!
  19. Hallo!
  20. sehr gut
  21. (die) Frau
  22. ja
  23. nicht (so) gut

Problems: Translation
Translate from English to German:
  1. Hello! I'm Susanne. What's your name?
  2. Good morning, Susanne. My name is Andreas.
  3. Good day, Andreas. How are you?
  4. Very good. Thanks, Susanne. And you? How are you?
  5. Great, thanks. See you later, Andreas!
  6. Goodbye!
  1. Hallo! Ich bin Susanne. Wie heißt du?
  2. Guten Morgen, Susanne. Ich heiße Andreas.
  3. Guten Tag, Andreas. Wie geht's?
  4. Sehr gut. Danke, Susanne. Und dir? Wie geht's dir?
  5. Prima, danke. Bis später, Andreas!
  6. Wiedersehen!

External resources edit

(edit template)   Level I Lessons (discussion)

  I.0 Introduction

Section I.A:   I.1 Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)  I.2 Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)  I.3 Bitte buchstabieren Sie  Review Section I.A

Section I.B:   I.4 Freizeit  I.5 Geburtstag  I.6 Essen  Review Section I.B

Section I.C:   I.7 Kleidung  I.8 Familie und Nationalität  I.9 Schule  Review Section I.C

Section I.D:   I.10 Das Fest  I.11 Privileg und Verantwortung  I.12 Wetter  Review Section I.D

Section I.E:   I.13 Zu Hause essen  I.14 Filme  I.15 Das Haus  Review Section I.E