The Most Frequent German Words

The sooner you can learn these, the better.  1/3 to 1/2 of almost any  German text consists of these simple and useful words!

Note: This list was originally based on an older source, buthas been updated and is still largely accurate.

Pronouns and Possessive Articles
Der- and ein-words
Modal and Auxiliary Verbs
Numbers and Ordinal Numbers
Prepositions
Common Contractions
Question Words
Coordinating Conjunctions (Verb in position 2)
Subordinating Conjunctions (Verb in final position)
Verbs
Miscellaneous Frequent Words

Pronouns and Possessive Articles

Nominative Accusative Dative Possessive Article
ich [=I] mich [=me] mir [=(for) me] mein [=my]
du [=you, singular, informal] dich dir dein
er [=he; it (for masculine nouns)] ihn ihm sein
sie [=she; it (for feminine nouns)] sie ihr ihr
es [=it] es ihm sein
wir [=we] uns uns unser
ihr [="you all," i.e. you, plural, informal] euch euch euer
sie/Sie [sie = they; Sie = you, singular or plural, formal] sie/Sie ihnen/Ihnen ihr/Ihr

Der- and ein-words

der/die/das... the, which, that
ein/eine/ein... a
dieser this
jeder every
jener that one (fairly formal)
alle (Pl.) all, every
solche (Pl.); solch ein such; such a
manche (Pl.) some

Modal and Auxiliary Verbs

können to be able to
dürfen to be allowed to
mögen (==>ich möchte etc.) to like (==> I would like etc.)
müssen to have to
sollen to be supposed to
wollen to want to
haben to have
sein to be
werden to become

Numbers and Ordinal Numbers

eins erster 1
zwei zweiter 2
drei dritter 3
vier vierter 4
fünf fünfter 5
sechs sechster 6
sieben siebter 7
acht achter 8
neun neunter 9
zehn zehnter 10
elf ... 11
zwölf 12
dreizehn 13
vierzehn 14
fünfzehn 15
sechzehn 16
siebzehn 17
achtzehn 18
neunzehn 19
zwanzig 20
dreißig 30
vierzig 40
fünfzig 50
sechzig 60
siebzig 70
achtzig 80
neunzig 90
hundert 100

Prepositions

These can have a range of meanings; only the most common are given here:
 
bis Akkusativ until, up to
durch Akkusativ through; by
für Akkusativ for
gegen Akkusativ against
ohne Akkusativ without
um (...herum) Akkusativ at (time); around (especially with "...herum"); roughly
wider Akkusativ against, contrary to
aus Dativ out of
außer Dativ except for
bei Dativ at
entgegen Dativ contrary to (expectations etc.)
entlang Dativ along (a street, shoreline etc.)
gegenüber Dativ across from
gemäß Dativ according to
mit Dativ with
nach Dativ after (time); to (city, country); according to
seit Dativ since
von Dativ of; by (author)
zu Dativ to
an Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) at, to (vertical or horizontal boundaries; specific points)
auf Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) on (occasionally means "at" or "to")
hinter Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) behind
in Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) in
neben Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) beside; besides
über Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) above; about (a topic); via
unter Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) under; among
vor Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) in front of; ago
zwischen Akkusativ (Motion) oder Dativ (Location) between
außerhalb Genitive outside of
bezüglich Genitive concerning, as to, with reference to
entsprechend Genitive corresponding
infolge Genitive as a result of
innerhalb Genitive within, inside of
längs Genitive along (a river, streetfront etc.)
mittels Genitive by means of
seitens Genitive on the part of
statt, anstatt Genitive instead of
trotz Genitive despite
während Genitive during
wegen Genitive because of

Common Contractions

 
am an dem
beim bei dem
im in dem
ins in das
vom von dem
zum zu dem
zur zu der

Fragewörter [only the most common question words appear here]

wann when
warum why
was what
welcher [a der-word] which
wer who
wie how
wo where

Coordinating Conjunctions (Verb in position 2)

aber but, however
denn since (in the sense of "because") (also used as a "flavoring particle" in questions, e.g. to indicate that one is curious about the answer)
entweder...oder either...or
nicht nur...sondern auch not only...but also
oder or
sondern but rather
sowohl...als auch both...and
und and
weder...noch neither...nor

Subordinating Conjunctions (Verb in final position)

als when (also means "than" in comparatives, and can mean "as" e.g. in "Sie arbeitet als Lehrerin")
bevor before
bis until
da as (in the sense of "because") (also means "there" as in: "Da ist mein Haus!")
damit so that (also means "with that," "with it")
daß that
ehe before (more formal than "bevor")
falls in case
indem by (+verb; e.g. by learning these words, you become a better person)
nachdem after
ob whether
obgleich although
obwohl although
seit since
sobald as soon as
so daß so that
während while
weil because
wenn if; when
wie how

Verbs

arbeiten to work
bleiben, blieb, ist geblieben to stay
bringen, brachte, hat gebracht to bring
denken, dachte, hat gedacht to think
fahren, er/sie/es fährt, fuhr, ist gefahren to drive; to go (somewhere, but not on foot or by plane)
finden, fand, hat gefunden to find
fragen to ask
führen to lead
geben, er/sie/es gibt, gab, hat gegeben to give
gehen, ging, ist gegangen to go
gelten, er/sie/es gilt, galt, hat gegolten to be valid (click here for more information on how to use this verb)
glauben to believe
halten, er/sie/es hält, hielt, hat gehalten to stop [for vehicles stopping]; to hold
heißen, hieß, hat gehießen to be called
kennen, kannte, hat gekannt to know (as in: to be familiar/acquainted with)
kommen, kam, ist gekommen to come
lassen to let (someone do something); to leave (something somewhere); to have something done
sich lassen + verb can be "verb-ed" (e.g. "This can be done")
leben to live
liegen, lag, hat gelegen to lie (as in a person or object's physical position)
machen to do; to make
meinen to think (as in: have an opinion) (often used as a synonym for "sagen": "Er meinte, dass..." = "He said/expressed the opinion that...")
nehmen, er/sie/es nimmt, nahm, hat genommen to take
nennen, nannte, hat genannt to call (for naming someone or something)
sagen to say
sehen, er/sie/es sieht, sah, hat gesehen to see
spielen to play (games/music/roles)
sprechen, er/sie/es spricht, sprach, hat gesprochen to speak
stehen, stand, hat gestanden to stand
stellen to put (for "standing" something with a firm base somewhere, e.g. "Stell die Gläser auf den Tisch!")
tun, tat, hat getan to do
wissen, er/sie/es weiß, wusste, hat gewusst to know (a fact)
zeigen to show

Miscellaneous Frequent Words

ab as of; departing at; used when something is being removed
allein alone; however
also thus, so
alt old
(ein) ander__ other (another)
anders differently
auch also
beide both
(zum) Beispiel (for) example
bereits already
besonder__ particular, unusual
besonders especially
in/mit Bezug auf regarding
bisher until now, as yet
dabei and yet; while doing that; near that/it
dann then
doch however, yet (also used to contradict a negative statement, e.g. "Sprechen Sie kein Deutsch?"--"Doch!" and as a flavoring particle to convey meanings such as "go ahead and" or "surely")
dort over there, there
drittens thirdly
eigentlich real(ly), actual(ly) (click here for more information on this basic but easily misused word, which is also frequently used as a "flavoring particle")
einige some, a few
einmal once, once upon a time
erst (at) first; only (in the sense of "not until")
erstens firstly
es gibt there is, there are
etwa roughly
etwas something
fast almost, nearly
ganz whole, entire, all (as in "all day", "all my money," but not e.g. "all the people")
gerade straight; just (as in "I just did this")
gestern yesterday
groß big, tall, large
gut good, well
heute today
hier here
immer always
ja yes (can also be used as a "flavoring particle"--click here for more info!)
das Jahr, -e year
je ever; per
je...je/desto/umso the (more)...the (more)
jedoch however, nonetheless
jetzt now, at the moment
kaum hardly, scarcely
kein(__) none, no, no one...
klein little, small
lang long
letzte(__) last
mal; das Mal time(s) [as in "zum ersten Mal," "drei mal" etc.]
man one
mehr more
morgen tomorrow
nein no
neu new
nicht not
nichts nothing
noch still (as in "It's still alive"); even (as in "even more"); "noch ein" = "another"
nun now; can be used to mean "Well,..."
nur only
oben above, up there
ohne...zu without (doing X)
ein paar a few
plötzlich sudden(ly)
quer durch right (straight) across
schlecht bad
schließlich finally; after all
schon already (can also be used as a "flavoring particle," e.g. when conceding something: "Das stimmt schon, aber..."
schön nice, pretty
schnell quick(ly), fast
sehr very
sei es...sei es be it...be it, whether...or
selbst, selber myself, yourself etc. (e.g. "Ich mache das selbst.") "selbst" can also mean "even" as in "Selbst SPAM schmeckt gut [=tastes good], wenn man Hunger hat."
sich oneself, himself, herself, itself, themselves etc. (reflexive pronoun)
so so, in this manner
sonst otherwise, or else
später later
(an)statt...zu instead of (doing X)
trotzdem nevertheless, despite that
um...zu in order to (do X)
viel a lot, many
vielleicht perhaps
was what; which
wenig(__) few, little (in the sense of "few")
wie how; like (as in "similar(ly)"), as (in comparisons)
wieder again
worauf, womit etc. on which, with which etc.
würde would
die Zeit time
zurück back (as in "come back")
zusammen together