German Alphabet

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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