Pronunciation of German

vowels & consonants


The correct pronunciation, as an English speaker

can pronounce German vowels and consonants:




    like:         Example:


a   ah           "a" in "bar"

b   b            "b" in "book"

c   ts           before "e", "i": "ts" in "hints"

c   k            before "a", "o", "u" & consonants: "k" in "kitchen" (ch below)

d   d            "d" in "day"

e   eh           "ay" in "day"

f   f            "f" in "foot"

g   g            "g" in "garden"

h   h            "h" in "house"

i   ee           "ee" in "heel"

j   y            "y" in "yes"

k   k, ck        "k" in "kitchen", "ck" in "truck"

l   l            "l" in "land"

m   m            "m" in "man"

n   n            "n" in "no"

o   oh           "o" in "pop"

p   p            "p" in "people"

q   kw           "qu" in "queen"

r   r            "r" in "red"

s   s            "s" in "mouse"

(ß and sch see below)

t   t            "t" in "table"

u   oo           "oo" in "book"

v   mostly f; v  "f" in "father"; "v" in "voice"

w   w            "v" in "voice"

x   ks           "x" in "axe"

y   y, ü, ee     "y" in "yes", ("ü" see below), "ee" in "heel"

z   ts           "ts" in "hints"




The umlauts "ä", "ö", and "ü" are best described with the French

Language (or even in Turkish :-) ):




    like:        Example:


ä   ai           "ai" in "mais" = English "but"

ö   oe           "oe" in "boeuf" = English "bull"

ü   u            "u" in "rue" = English "street"




"ch" is not a consonant, e.g. like in Spanish; in German "ch" sounds in

three different ways:


1. after an "a", "o" and "u" (German words: Dach = roof, Loch = hole,

Buch = book):




    like:        Example:


ch  k            "ch" in Scottish "loch" (like a rough "h", created in

the throat)


2. after an "e", "i", "ä", "ö" and "ü" (German words:


Recht = right,

Licht = light, Dächer = roofs, Löcher = holes, Küche = kitchen):


ch  sh           "sh" in "fish"


Suggestions for an English pronunciation in fact are not really correct,

But come close to the real High German pronunciation (but in our local

Dialect here in southern Hesse, the second "ch" really sound like "sh")


3. In words of foreign origin mostly depending on the original



ch  ch, sh       "ch" in "China", "sh" in "fish"




ß comes from the combination of the old German script "s" with the

script "z", thus it is "sz" or currently "ss":




     like:        Example:


ß  ss           "ss" in "kiss"




"sch" is not a consonant, either:




     like:        Example:


sch  sh           "sh" in "shell"



Written by: Jürgen Fritsche (Germany)