German pronounciation
Hints on German pronounciation

Here are some hints on how the German words are pronounced. While the German grammar is much more complicated than the English one, pronouncing German words is easier. Usually, all you have to do is say one letter after the other, with little special cases.
Vowels are usually said with a middle length (although it is not defined how much that is exactly). When they are doubled or suffixed with "h" they are pronounced longer. Before a doubled consonant, they vowel is said shorter.
Consonants are pronounced a little bit harder when they are doubled.
When I give examples, the letters that are important are written in italic. In these examples the pronounciation may not be exactly as in German, so you probably will speak with an accent.

Letter(s)ExamplePronounciation
aTal (valley), Mann (man)nut, come
aa, ahSaal (hall), Hahn (roster)father
ai, ayHai (shark)I, fly
auHaus (house)Similar to house, about
ä, aeBär (bear); ae is usually only written when there is no ? on the keyboard.bad, man
ähMähne (mane)like in bad, just longer
äuHäuser (houses)Similar to boy
bBuch (book)book
cA stand-alone c is only used in non-native words, like café, so it follows the pronounciation rules of that language. For words from the Latin the ce/ci-ca/co/cu rule applies: Before e and i the c is pornounced like z (Celsius, Citrone), before a, o und u it is pronounced like k (Café, Conrinthe, Cumulus). In the process of adopting foreign words, c usually is replaced by z or k.(like z:) nuts, (like k:) can
chOn the beginning of a word it is usually pronounced like k (Christ), in the middle or at the end of a word like in the Scottish 'loch' and similar to the Spanish 'j'. For non-native or adopted words it follows the foreign language's rules (Chef, Champion).Christ, loch
ckEcke (corner); ck is usually used instead of kklick
dDorf (village)devil
eRegen (rain), Bett (bed)bed, get
ee, ehleer (empty), lehren (to teach)like in bed, just longer
ei, eyklein (small)rime
euEuropa (Europe), Leute (people)Similar to boy
-erMüller (miller); at the end of words tends to get "smeared".miller
fFahne (flag)flag
gGurke (cucumber), Flagge (flag)getm flag
hheute (today), in the middle or at the end of words, h tends to become "silent", like in Ruhe (silence) or Vieh (cattle)hint
iKind (child)bin, kid
ie, iehLiebe (love), Bier (beer)bee
jJahr (year), Jugend (youth); but there are non-native words that follow their own pronounciation (Jockey = jockey)year, youth
kKern (kernal)kernal
kkUsually replaced by cklock
lLiebe (love)love
mMann (man)man
nNuss (nut)nut
ngHang (slope)hang
orot (red)The best examples are fall, or, but they are not very exact
oo, ohBoot (boat), bohren (to bore)Like above, no good examples, best is bore
ouNougat (nougat)nougat
ö, oeblöd (stupid), töten (kill); oe is usually only written when there is no ö on the keyboard.Similar to bird, burn, learn
öhBöhmen (Bohemia)Like above, just longer
pPlan (plan)plan
pfPferd (horse), tapfer (bold); pronounced like a p and an f very quickly after each other.-
phEspecially in words taken from the old Greek, like Photo; nowadays usually replaced by fphoto
psEspecially in words taken from the old Greek, like Psalm; pronounced like a p and an s very quickly after each other.crops
quQuelle (well); in all German words q is followed by u.quick
rrot (red)Similar to red
-rTor (door, idiot); at the end of words tends to get "smeared".for
rhRhombus (rhombus); usually in words from the old Greekrhombus
sSonne (sun), Hase (hare); in German there is no written different between the harder s (like in Sonne) and the softer s (like in Hase).harder: sun, softer: laze
ß (sz)Fuß (foot); the "Scharfes S" (sharp s) is like an ss, but it indicates that the vowel before it is pronounced longer, which is important to distinguish between words like Masse (mass) and Maße (measures). Sometimes it is also written sz (especially on keyboards where there is no ß) because ß is a ligature of the old German "long s" and a z.-
schscheinen (to shine); but beware the trap that words are diminished (Maus = mouse -> Mäuschen = mousie) where it is pronounced like Mäus-chen.shine
spSpule (spool), lispeln (lisp); At the beginning of a word sp is pronounced like schp.No example for the sp at the beginning; lisp
stStein (stone), Rest (rest); At the beginning of a word st is pronounced like scht.No example for the st at the beginning; rest
tTee (tea)tea
thThron (throne); th is always pronounced like t; lately, in many words th was replaced by t.tea
uUfer (shore), Null (null)put
uu, uhRuhe (rest); I cannot think of any German word with uu, though, because uu would have become w.root
ü, ueRücken (back of the body or to move); there is no similar letter in English; ue is usually only written when there is no ü on the keyboard.-
ühMühle (mill)-
vIn native words like Vogel (bird) it is pronounced similar to f, in non-native words like Villa (villa) it is pronounced like w.No example for the first one; villa
wWasser (water)valley
xLuxus (luxery); Xenaluxery
yYpsilon (letter Y); only used in non-native words and mostly pronounced like ü (Lyra = lyre), sometimes still like i (Mayer, but has been replaced in these words usually by i, Zimbal = cymbal) or j (Maya, but has also usually been replaced, Major = major)).-
zZaun (fence), Reiz (charm); pronounced like a t and a s very quickly after each other.nuts

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