Learn German Alphabets

  • By Siddhi Ghale
  • January 27, 2024
  • German Language
Learn German Alphabets

Learn German Alphabets

The German alphabet contains notable differences when compared to English, but it’s not too complex to learn. If you have already been writing or reading using the Roman alphabet, you have a big advantage already. In this blog, you will Learn German Alphabets from scratch to an advanced level.

German phonetics is a bit more challenging as it contains different phonemes and special vowels that are not represented in many other European languages. Although you may have heard that German grammar is tough to master, it is very logical and is definitely accessible to anyone who dedicates time and effort to learning.


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German Alphabet and Pronunciation

How Many Letters Are in the German Alphabet?

Much like the English alphabet, German has 26 standard letters. However, the German alphabet contains one additional character and umlauted forms of three vowels.

The German ligature (additional character): The letter ß, is also known as the “sharp S”, “eszett” or “scharfes S”, and is the only German letter that is not part of the Latin/Roman alphabet. The letter is pronounced (like the “s” in “see”). The ß is not used in any other language.

The Umlaut is the pair of dots placed over certain vowels; in standard German and its dialects, these vowels are ä, ö, ü.

How Do You Spell Letters in German?

In German, the letters of the Alphabet are pronounced like this, and can be spelt phonetically as such:

A = ah

B = bay

C = tsay

D = day

E = ay

F = eff

G = gay

H = hah

I = eeh

J = yot

K = kah

L = ell

M = em

N = en

O = oh

P = pay

Q = koo

R = air

S = es

T = tay

U = ooh

V = fow

W = vay

X = iks

Y = oopsilohn

Z = tset

ß = Like the ‘s’ in ‘sea’


What’s the Best Way to Learn the German Alphabet

Start by learning German alphabet characters and their respective pronunciations. It helps to have a recording of the letters being spoken (slowly) so you can learn them systematically – using the old-as-time ‘Alphabet Song’ technique is a good idea.

German ‘Umlaut’

Even if you did not know the word ‘Umlaut’ before, you may have seen this character when looking at German texts – or the written forms of Swedish, Hungarian, Slovak, and a few other languages. The Umlaut is the two dots that sometimes appear above the vowels a, o and u to make ä, ö, and ü.

In German, you will see the Umlaut in words such as schön (beautiful) and Vögel (birds, plural form), and it affects how these words are pronounced. 

What are Umlauts?

What are the two dots above a vowel are called?

The answer: an Umlaut.

But what do these 2 dots above a vowel mean? Umlauts are used to form three ‘mutated’ vowel sounds in the German language. The German alphabet includes the three standard vowel sounds for the letters a (ah), o (oh) and u (ooh), but when these letters are combined with the Umlaut as ä, ö, and ü, their pronunciation changes (read on to learn how). The three ‘umlauted’ vowels are official additional letters of the German alphabet.


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Types and Pronunciation of German Umlauts

A short guide to the pronunciation of the German Ä, Ö, and Ü you can find below

Umlauted vowels in German, and any language that uses them, have distinct pronunciations from the non-umlauted ones.

How Do You Pronounce Ä in German?

The ä umlauted character is pronounced like the ‘ai’ sound in air, kind of like a mixture of a and e.

How Do You Pronounce Ö in German?

The ö umlauted vowel can be pronounced in a variety of different ways and sounds similar to the e in her, the i in bird, or the French eu. It’s a bit like a mixture of o and e.

How Do You Pronounce Ü in German?

The ü is unusual in that it doesn’t have an English equivalent, except for maybe the ‘ui’ sound in ‘suit’, but it is pronounced like the standard u is in French.

The best way to understand how umlauted vowels are pronounced is to hear them spoken by native speakers, both as individual letters and parts of words. Function of German Umlauts

What Do Umlauts do?

Umlauts are used to change the pronunciation of vowels in the German alphabet. They are essentially a blend of two vowels, so they simplify the pronunciation and appearance of two vowels that are directly adjacent in a word into one spoken phonetic sound and written character.

More specifically, Umlauts are used to inject variety into the German vocabulary, making words more clearly distinct from one another.

For example, grammatically, Umlauts are often used in German to distinguish singular from plural nouns, such as ‘Apfel’ and ‘Äpfel’ (‘apple’ and ‘apples’) or ‘Laden’ and ‘Läden’ (‘shop’ and ‘shops’).

Umlauts are sometimes used to indicate second/third person conjugations of German verbs. The word ‘fangen’ or ‘to catch’ has the present tense forms of ich fange (I catch), du fängst (you catch), and er fängt (he catches).


Some people regard German as a difficult language to learn because of its grammar. The complexity of the German linguistic ‘cases’ (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive) is a big reason for this perception. However, with the right study methods, you can learn these in a simple way. One helpful tip is to create a table, or chart, of the cases with different pronouns, like “his”: sein, seinen, seinem, seines.

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How Do You Identify ‘der die das’ in German?

You may have heard of the German “der die das” rule. These words are the German definite articles (forms of “the”) which let us identify the gender of a noun. When looking at the example of cutlery, we see that there is no particular pattern to this: Die Gabel (the fork), der Löffel (the spoon) and das Messer (the knife). A fork is feminine, a spoon masculine and a knife neutral. It’s easy to see how new German speakers get confused, but in short: die = feminine, der = masculine and das = neutral.

Masculine nouns take the definite article, der, die, or das (the) and indefinite article, ein, eine, or ein (a/an).

Masculine nouns often have these endings:












Feminine nouns often have these endings:













Neutral nouns often have these endings:












 However, as with all languages – there are exceptions to the rule!


Siddhi Ghale
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