Learn German by reading texts and viewing Video

Have you ever thought about improving your German learning by reading things that interest you or watching videos in German?

Readlang German is a service that allows you to do just that!

Readlang is available in over 50 languages and has a database of videos and texts in German that you can select by duration and difficulty (level, A1, A2 etc.).

Below I have selected some videos and texts that you can easily watch. By visiting the official website you will have access to over 232,470 texts.

There will certainly be new words whose meaning you will not know, in this case, just click on the word and the translation will appear automatically.

Click on this symbol instead:

you can select the language of the translation or share the video or text.

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German modal verbs

What are the modal verbs in German? Why are they used?
Modal verbs are used to express the ‘modality’ of an action: a permission, a desire, a possibility, a claim, etc…

There are 6 German modal verbs:

  • können – ability to do something
  • dürfen – have permission to do something
  • müssen – duty understood as an obligation to do something
  • sollen – duty but a little softer than müssen
  • wollen – want
  • mögen – wish

In German, the modal verb requires another verb that must be placed at infinity and at the end of the sentence.
In the case where the modal is followed by the infinity of a motion verb, this can be implied:

Examples:

  • Ich muss jetzt nach Hause [gehen]. I have to go home now.
  • Laura will unbedingt nach Berlin [fahren]. Laura absolutely wants to go to Berlin.

Können and dürfen
The two verbs are translated with “can” but:

können is used when an opportunity, capacity, hypothesis or eventuality is to be expressed.

Examples:

  • Hier kann man gut skifahren. Here one can ski well.
  • Ich kann skifahren. I can ski.
  • Es kann auch sein, dass er nicht zuhause war. It can also be that he wasn’t at home.

dürfen is used when a permit, prohibition (with negation) or negative order is to be expressed.

Examples:

  • Hier dürfen Kinder spielen. Children can play here.
  • Hier darf man nicht rauchen. Here one may not smoke.
  • Du darfst nicht auf die Party gehen. You are not allowed to go to the party

Müssen e sollen
These two modal verbs are translated with “duty” but:

müssen is used to express an explicit duty or necessity.

Examples:

  • Ich muss dringend nach Hause fahren. I must go home urgently.
  • Ich muss im Lexikon nachschauen. I must check the encyclopedia.

sollen is used to express a duty, follow a law, an assignment from someone else or a moral request.

Examples:

  • Du sollst nicht stehlen. You’re not supposed to steal.
  • Du solltest mehr lernen. You should learn more.
  • Sie sollten weniger rauchen! You should smoke less!

Wollen e mögen
These two modal verbs are translated with “want” but the verb mögen is used as a modal verb in its forms of Konjunktiv II (möcht-).

wollen is used to express a will, a desire, a purpose or an intention.

Examples:

  • Ich will dich heiraten. I want to marry you.
  • Ich will mich verbessern. I want myself to improve.

mögen is used to express a wish or a polite request.

Examples:

  • Ich möchte gerne ins Kino gehen. I’d like to go to the cinema.
  • Was möchten Sie (gerne)? Ich möchte (gern) 200 gr Schinken. What would you like? I would like (gladly) 200 gr ham.

In this next video AnjaLearn German with Anja, explains what modal verbs are and how to use them, she also provides some very useful grammar notes:

Conjugate modal verbs with verbformen.de: können, dürfen, müssen, sollen, wollen, mögen

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German Alphabet

In one of our previous posts, we talked about how to present ourselves (sich vorstellen).
But what happens when we say, for example, our name to someone and it is not understood? The most likely thing is that the other person asks us to repeat what we have said and, probably, to do the spelling. In this case, even if it seems obvious, we should know well the German alphabet and, above all, the pronunciation of the individual letters.

German uses the same letters as English, with four extra characters: ä, ö, ü and ß.
The first three are alternative pronunciations or “shifts” of vowels a, o and u. The symbol is called “umlaut“.
They can also appear in capitals — Ä, Ö, Ü — but you won’t see them too often.
The ß (“sharp S”) is not a real letter, but only a tying for a double lowercase s. We will discuss later when to write ss and when to use the ß – we must first talk about vowels – but if you have any doubts, write ss. It is more acceptable to replace the ß with a double s than vice versa.
There is no difference in the way they are pronounced. In Switzerland, ß is not used at all.
If you are using a keyboard without these symbols, you can type ae, oe and ue instead of ä, ö and ü, and of course ss instead of ß.

Then below you will find all the letters of the German alphabet, with their pronunciation.
To help you, I will also post videos. What I suggest is to listen to the pronunciation and try to emulate it aloud.

  • a – ah
  • b – beh
  • c – tseh
  • d – deh
  • e – eh
  • f – eff
  • g – geh
  • h – hah
  • i – ih
  • j – yott
  • k – kah
  • l – ell
  • m – emm
  • n – enn
  • o – oh
  • p – peh
  • q – kuh
  • r – err
  • s – ess
  • t – teh
  • u – uh
  • v – fau
  • w – veh
  • x – iks
  • y – ypsilon
  • z – tzett

Combination of keyboard keys to obtain special characters:

  • ä = ALT + 132
  • Ä = ALT + 142
  • ü = ALT + 129
  • ö = ALT + 148
  • Ö = ALT + 153
  • Ü = ALT + 154
  • ß = ALT + 225

How to pronounce the German alphabet – Song (Youtube channel: Sing mit mir – Kinderlieder)

In this next video AnjaLearn German with Anja, explains how to pronounce this letters:

And now that we have learned the German alphabet, we are ready to answer the questions:

  • Kannst du das bitte buchstabieren? Can you spell that? (informal)
  • Können Sie das bitte buchstabieren? Can you spell that? (formal)

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German Question Words

Conversations, in any language, are never one-way, so learning to ask basic questions, in German in this case, will help to communicate more effectively with others and develop language skills.

In this post we will learn to formulate questions using the main question words (die Fregewörte):

  • Wo – where
  • Woher – where from
  • Wohin – where to
  • Wann – when
  • Was – what
  • Wer – who
  • Wie – how
  • Warum – why

All question words in German begin with the letter “W.” The pronunciation is similar to the letter “V” in English.

How to Form Sentences with German Question Words?

To structure a question in German, you must start with the question word first, next you’ll add the conjugated verb in the second position, and then the subject:

Q-word + conjugated verb + subject

If there is anything else in the question, then it will follow the subject.
For example: Wohin gehst du? Where are you going?

In this sentence, Wohin (where to) is the question word, gehst (go) is the conjugated verb and du (you) is the subject.

Another example: Warum wohnt er jetzt in Deutschland? Why does he live in Germany now?

Here, Warum (why) is the question word, wohnt (live) is the conjugated verb, er (he) is the subjec, jetzt in Deutschland (now in Germany) is the rest of the information, which will always go last.

Basic questions in German

Here are some basic questions in German that every beginner should know about:

  • Wie geht es dir? How are you?
  • Woher kommst du? Where are you from?
  • Wie spät ist es? What time is it?
  • Wie ist das Wetter? How is the weather?
  • Wie weit ist es? How far is it?
  • Wo sind die Toiletten? Where are the restrooms?
  • Wo kann ich Busfahrkarten kaufen? Where can I buy bus tickets?
  • Was kostet das? How much is it?
  • Wo finde ich ein Geldautomat? Where do I find an ATM?
  • Wann fährt den Zug/das Flugzeug ab? When does the train/plane depart?

In this next video Anja, Learn German with Anja, explains how to use the questions words. In addition to that, she also provides some very useful grammar notes:

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German Numbers (Die Zahlen)

In this topic we will learn how to write German numbers. Let’s start with the numbers from 0 to 19. Why exactly 1 to 19? Because these numbers represent the basis to form all the others.

  • 0 – null
  • 1 – eins
  • 2 – zwei
  • 3 – drei
  • 4 – vier
  • 5 – fünf
  • 6 – sechs
  • 7 – sieben
  • 8 – acht
  • 9 – neun
  • 10 – zehn
  • 11 – elf
  • 12 – zwölf
  • 13 – dreizehn
  • 14 – vierzehn
  • 15 – fünfzehn
  • 16 – sechzehn
  • 17 – siebzehn
  • 18 – achtzehn
  • 19 – neunzehn

Now let’s go and see how you write 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. Why? Because even these numbers are the basis for creating all the others.

  • 20 – zwanzig
  • 30 – dreißig
  • 40 – vierzig
  • 50 – fünfzig
  • 60 – sechzig
  • 70 – siebzig
  • 80 – achtzig
  • 90 – neunzig

To form all the other numbers just combine them as follows:

  • 21 – ein und zwanzig
  • 32 – zwei und dreißig
  • 43 – drei und vierzig
  • 54 – vier und fünfzig
  • 65 – fünf und sechzig
  • 76 – sechs und siebzig
  • 87 – sieben und achtzig
  • 98 – acht und neunzig

Do you understand how this works? If yes, try to comment below by writing your age. If you are female, you can also bluff 😀

Before continuing, try to write this number: 33

Still, too hard? Use this tool to convert a number into a word: Numbers to Words Converter – German

Let’s see how to write 100 and 1000:

  • 100 – (ein) hundert
  • 1000 – (ein) tausend

Looking at the structure of these two numbers, how do you think the numbers 700 and 6000 would be written?
That’s right. That’s what I’m talking about:

  • 700 – sieben hundert
  • 6000 – sechs tausend

Now let’s see some slightly larger numbers:

  • 1.000.000 – eine Million
  • 2.000.000 – zwei Millionen
  • 1.000.000.000 – eine Milliarde

By learning the structure of the numbers we have treated, you should be able to write down all the German numbers.
Is everything clear? Try to write in the comments your year of birth. Mine is:

1976 – Ein­ tausend ­neun­ hundert ­sechs ­und ­siebzig
or better: Ein­tausend­neun­hundert­sechs­und­siebzig

In this next video Kathy Schock, explains how to pronounce the German numbers. In addition to that, she also provides some very useful grammar notes:

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Months, days, parts of the day, seasons

In this topic we will learn about the months of the year, the days of the week and the seasons. Let’s start with the months of the year (die Monate).

  • January: Januar
  • February: Februar
  • March: März
  • April: April
  • May: Mai
  • June: Juni
  • July: Juli
  • August: August
  • September: September
  • October: Oktober
  • November: November
  • December: Dezember

The months are all masculine and the preposition “in” + Dative is used:
Example: In August: im August
Note: im = in + dem (dem = der in Dative)

Now let’s take a look at the days of the week (die Wochentage):

  • Monday: Montag
  • Tuesday: Dienstag
  • Wednesday: Mittwoch
  • Thursday: Donnerstag
  • Friday: Freitag
  • Saturday: Samstag
  • Sunday: Sonntag

To say “every Monday or every …” you can write:

  • Montags: every Monday
  • Dienstags: every Tuesday
  • Mittwochs: every Wednesday
  • Donnerstags: every Thursday
  • Freitags: every Friday
  • Samstags: every Saturday
  • Sonntags: every Sunday

The days of the week are also masculine.

Now let’s move on to the seasons (die vier Jahreszeiten):

  • Spring: der Frühling
  • Summer: der Sommer
  • Autumn: der Herbst
  • Winter: der Winter

As you can see, also the seasons are of masculine gender and, as for the months, it is used the preposition “in” + Dative.
Example: in summer= im Sommer or in autumn= im Herbst

Below you will find some words and phrases that will surely come in handy:

  • day= der Tag
  • month= der Monat
  • year= das Jahr
  • the morning= Morgen (der)
  • in the morning= Vormittag (der)
  • lunchtime= Mittag (der)
  • afternoon= Nachmittag (der)
  • evening= Abend (der)
  • night= Night (die)
  • mittags= in the lunchtime
  • nachmittags= in the afternoon
  • abends= in the evening
  • nachts= at night
  • today= heute
  • tomorrow= morgen
  • the day after tomorrow= übermorgen
  • in two days= in zwei Tagen
  • yesterday= gestern
  • the otherieri= vorgestern
  • two days ago= vor zwei Tagen
  • now= jetzt
  • later= später
  • in the past= früher
  • soon= gleich
  • bald= soon, in the sense of short (example soon!: bis bald!)
  • früh= early (clockwise; example early tomorrow morning: morgen früh)
  • late=spät
  • this week= diese Woche
  • next week= nächste Woche
  • last week= letzte Woche
  • in two weeks time= in zwei Wochen
  • this month= dieser Monat
  • next month= nächester Monat
  • last month= letzter Monat
  • in two months = in zwei Monaten
  • this year= dieses Jahr
  • next year= nächstes Jahr
  • last year= letztes Jahr
  • in two years time= in zwei Jahren
  • two years ago= vor zwei Jahren

In this next video Eva, girls4teaching, explains how to use these words. In addition to the meaning of the words itself, she also provides some very useful grammar notes:

(Source: http://iltedescopertutti.blogspot.com)

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Introducing yourself | sich vorstellen

In this post, we’ll go through the topic: Introducing yourself | sich vorstellen

One of the first things to learn is of course how to introduce yourself to someone. Below you will find a list of common phrases that you can adapt to your needs. In addition, you will also find a video where Learn German explains, by giving several examples, how to introduce yourself.

  • Mein Name is Mark. My name is Mark.
    • Answer the question: Wie heißt du? and Wie ist dein Name?What is your name? (In-formal) or Wie heißen Sie? and Wie ist Ihr Name? What is your name? (Formal).
    • Note: In that case “Name” rappresents the “family name”. To indicate the “first name” is used the word: “Vornamen” -> Wie ist dein Vorname?
  • Mir geht’s gut, danke. I’m fine, thanks.
    • Answer the question: Wie geht’s? How are you? (In-formal) or Wie geht es Ihnen? How are you (Formal).
  • Ich komme aus Grossbritannien. I come from Great Britain.
    • Answer the question: Woher kommst du? Where do you come from? (In-formal) or Woher kommen Sie? Where do you come from? (Formal).
  • Ich wohne in Berlin. I live in Berlin.
    • Answer the question: Wo wohnst du? Where do you live? (In-formal) or Wo wohnen Sie? Where do you live? (Formal).
  • Ich bin ledig. I am single.
    • That phrase can always come in handy! 😀
  • Meine Handynummer ist… My cell phone number is…
    • Answer the question: Was ist deine Telefonnummer? What is your telephone number? (In-formal) or Wie ist Ihre Telefonnummer? What is your telephone number? (Formal).
  • Ich studiere Zahnmedizin. I study dentistry.
    • Answer the question: Was studierst du? What do you study? (In-formal) or Was studieren Sie? What do you study? (Formal).
    • Note: The German verb “studieren” means studying at a university (being enrolled and taking courses). Discover the difference with the German verb “lernen” that is more general (e. g. learning a language, learning to swim or learning for exams at the university).
  • Ich bin Lehrer von Beruf. I work as a teacher (M).
    • Answer the question: Was machst du beruflich? What do you do for a living? (In-formal) or Was machen Sie beruflich? What do you do for a living? (Formal).
  • Ich mag Pizza. I like pizza.
    • Answer the question: Was magst du? What do you like? (In-formal) or Was mögen Sie? What do you like? (Formal).
  • Ich hasse den Regen. I hate the rain.
    • Answer the question: Was hasst du? Was hassen Sie? (In-formal) or Was hassen Sie? Was hassen Sie? (Formal).
  • Meine Hobbys sind reisen, tanzen und schwimmen. My hobbies are traveling, dancing and swimming.
    • Answer the question: Was sind deine Hobbys? What are your hobbies? (In-formal) or Was sind lhre Hobbys? What are your hobbies? (Formal).
  • Ich habe drei Geschwister. I have three siblings.
    • Answer the question: Wie viele Geschwister hast du? How many siblings do you have? (In-formal) or Wie viele Geschwister haben Sie? How many siblings do you have? (Formal).
  • Ich bin fünfundzwanzig (25) Jahre alt. I am 25 years old.
    • Answer the question: Wie alt bist du? How old are you? (In-formal) or Wie alt sind Sie? How old are you? (Formal).
  • Mein Lieblingsessen ist Pizza. My favorite food is pizza.
    • Answer the question: Was ist dein Lieblingsessen? What’s your favorite food? (In-formal) or Was ist Ihr Lieblingsessen? What’s your favorite food? (Formal).

Learn more about the German verb “vorstellen“.

And now that you have learned these single phrases, let see how you should put all together in order to present yourself to someone or start a conversation.
Take a look to these YouTube videos and try to emulate the people who speak.

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