German vs English: Differences & Similarities. The German and English languages are West Germanic. When it comes to German and English, there are far more similarities than there are differences because German was the root language for English.
While there are certainly a lot of similarities between German and English, there are some parts of the languages that are very different.
If you are adult learner with no previous knowledge of German language, than this article is for you. It will provide all the basics of German Language with comparison of English Language. So you can easily relate German Language with English.
My aim is to give you idea how Language works, so that you can get quick overview before you start learning the German Language. And i assume that you know English Language very well.
Table of Contents
As the language of international business, the ability to speak English is recognized as a career asset all over the world.
While, German is also a remarkably powerful language in the globalized world of work due to the country’s thriving economy.
It is no surprise, therefore, that English and German-speaking employees are in such high demand.
Both languages use the Latin alphabet.
Like English, German Language has 26 letters, but there are also umlaut characters in German, such as ö, ü and ä, as well as the double S represented by ß.
All numbers in German and English (although named differently) are created by using the digits 0-9. Even the way in which numbers are compounded is similar.
In English, “teen” is the suffix: thirteen, fourteen, fifteen…
While, In German, “zehn” is the suffix: Dreizehn, Vierzehn, Fünfzehn…
Articles German vs English
The German language has multiple versions of each article is incredibly unusual for an English speaker.
In using articles, English uses a, an and the as indefinite and definite articles, respectively. In German, the articles have gender, thus the definite article ”der” is used for masculine, ”die” for feminine and plural words and ”das” for neuter. While, for the indefinite article ” ein” is used for masculine, ”eine” for feminine and ”ein” for neuter gender.
For example for definite article:
- The arm: der Arm
- The book: das Buch
- The cat: die Katze
- The dog: der Hund
- The fish: der Fisch
- The garden: der Garten
- The father: der Vater
- The mother: die Mutter
- The brother: der Bruder
- The sister: die Schwester
- The son: der Sohn
- The daughter: die Tochter
For example for indefinite article:
- An arm: ein Arm
- A book: ein Buch
- A cat: eine Katze
- A dog: ein Hund
- A fish: ein Fisch
- A garden: ein Garten
- A father: ein Vater
- A mother: eine Mutter
- A brother: ein Bruder
- A sister: eine Schwester
- A son: ein Sohn
- A daughter: eine Tochter
So how do you know if a word is feminine or masculine in German? Unfortunately, it’s not always logical— it’s just something you’ll have to learn!
There’s no reason why der Salat is masculine and die Pizza is feminine. That’s just how it is!
Remember that all nouns have a gender in German, and that der and ein change form depending on that gender.
Cases English vs German
4 Cases are in German grammar known as: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. To give a quick summary of German cases:
|Nominative||Subject does the action||Der Mann lebt in Deutschland.||The man lives in Germany.|
|Accusative||Direct object receives the action||Das Pferd isst einen Apfel.||The horse eats an apple.|
|Dative||Indirect object receives the action||Ich schenke dir eine Blume.||I give you a flower.|
|Genitive||Possession||Der Koffer des Mannes||The man’s suitcase|
When your sentence uses a noun, then you need to make sure you use both the correct gender and change it for the appropriate case.
It can take a while to get used to the differences, but by focusing on them, you can feel more relaxed with the other aspects that are the same. The best way to start getting accustomed to the differences is to practice at least a little every day.
In English, we capitalize some words, like people’s names. In German, you capitalize all nouns. While, you capitalize first word of sentence in German also.
In English, you need to capitalize the first letter of each new sentence. Just follow the examples given below.
Der Mann lebt in Deutschland. (The man lives in Germany.)
Das Kind isst einen Apfel. (The child eats an apple.)
Brot und Wasser bitte. (Bread and water please.)
Hallo! Kaffee und Milch, bitte. (Hello! coffee and milk please.)
Ja, ich beantworte Ihre Fragen. (Yes, I will answer your questions.)
So, you have noticed that, nouns and first word of sentence in German language is capital. That’s one difference between German and English languages.
Basic Sentence Structure
Generally, there is similarity of sentence structure for English and German. The only real difference in the German is that the verb is moved forward in the sentence. However, there are many German sentences in which a verb form is the last word in the sentence.
Normally, Sentence structure follow basic ”Subject-verb order!”
Examples, Bold words are verbs and placed just after Subject:
Ich komme aus Berlin. (I am from Berlin.)
Ich bin Arzt. (I am a doctor.)
Hier ist die Speisekarte. (Here is the menu.)
Das Wetter war ziemlich gut am Samstag. (The weather was fairly good on Saturday.)
Der Strand ist besser als der Park. (The beach is better than the park.)
In German you use the same verb form for things you do habitually and things you’re doing right now.
Ich singe oft. (I often sing.)
Ich singe jetzt. (I am singing now.)
Questions Sentence Structure
Questions have Verb-Subject order or Adverb-Verb-Subject order.
Kommst du aus Frankreich? (Are you from France?)
Bist du Lehrer? (Are you a teacher?)
Kochst du? (Do you cook?)
Schwimmst du? (Do you swim?)
Usage of ”you” German vs English
German has different ways to say you, depending on who you’re talking to! You say du to friends and family. But with strangers, people older than you, and authority figures, you’ll say Sie. Using Sie indicates respect, while using du indicates friendliness.
Examples: That is formal way and Sie has been used here.
Guten Tag, wie heißen Sie? (Good afternoon, what is your name?)
Woher kommen Sie, Herr Musil? (Where are you from, Mr. Musil?)
Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Deutsch? (Excuse me, do you speak German?)
Examples: for Informal way, you can use du.
Was kaufst du online? (What do you buy online?)
Gehst du nach Hause? (Are you going home?)
Currency German vs English
In English, you say one Euro, two Euros. Not in German! It’s always just Euro in German. That would apply for other currency dollar also.
Der Tee kostet sieben Euro! (The tea costs seven euros!)
Die Milch kostet zwei Euro: (The milk costs two Euros.)
Same Words English vs German
Before you start learning German, you should know that you already know some German words without actually being aware of it.
Many words share the same roots, such as word and Wort, or house and Haus.
Many words, such as Football and Sandwich are the same in English and German.
There are the same or very similar words in English and German. While, You should start with these words.
- active: aktive
- acute: akut
- adapter: Adapter
- address: Adresse
- affair: Affäre
- agent: Agent
- alcohol: Alkohol
- altar: Altar
- anarchy: Anarchie
- angel: Engel
- architect: Architekt
- army: Armee
- athlete: Athlet
- baby: Baby
- balcony: Balkon
- banana: Banane
- bank: Bank
- battery: Batterie
- bear: Bär
- bed: Bett
- bitter: bitter
- blind: blind
- blue: blau
- boat: Boot
- bus: Bus
- bread: Brot
There are more similar words in between German and English as given below:
- cafe: Café
- calendar: Kalender
- calorie: Kalorie
- camera: Kamera
- candidate: Kandidat
- cannibal: Kannibale
- cannon: kanone
- card: Karte
- creative: kreativ
- date: Datum
- disco: Disko
- discussion: Diskussion
- doctor: Doktor
- drink: trinken
- drug: Droge
- dolphin: Delphin
- dock: Dock
- discipline: Disziplin
Similarities between English & German
German and English are very close to each other. Here are some major similarities:
- Both languages use the Latin alphabet.
- Normally, sentences follow Subject-Verb order.
- Questions have Verb-Subject order or Adverb-Verb-Subject order.
- Both languages have prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, nouns, verbs, interjections, pronouns, and adjectives.
- The indirect object usually comes before the direct object.
- There are contractions in both German and English.
- Many words share the same roots, such as word and Wort, or house and Haus.
- Many words, such as Football and Sandwich are the same in English and German. As you can see, German is very much like English.
Differences between German & English
There are, however, differences between German and English:
- German has genders; every noun is either masculine, feminine, or neuter.
- German has three different words for “you”, while English has only one. There are even four if you count the impersonal “man”.
- German has more verb forms than English.
- German has more letters than and different pronunciations from English.
- German is the only known written language where all nouns are capitalized, regardless of whether or not it is a proper noun.
- Sometimes in German the verb will be the last word of a sentence.
- There are no helping verbs in German.
- Adjectives will have different endings based on the noun they are modifying in German.
- German is more ‘guttural’. In German, you talk in the back of your mouth.
- “I” (ich) is only capitalized if it is the first word of the sentence.
- In German, there are four cases; in English, there are three.
You can contact here, if you need help or have any questions about German or English. While, you can write questions in comment box section also.
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