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German for Beginners:
Pronunciation - Aussprache
(Part 3)

A German Pronunciation Guide
With DANGERS to Avoid!

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In this third part of our German Pronunciation Guide, we offer more tips and point out some hidden dangers caused by interference from English. Also see Part 1 (Das Alphabet) and Part 2 (Diphthongs & Consonants). Because you speak English (or some other language besides German), you need to guard against pronouncing German in an English or non-German way.

Letter Sounds in Words
Previously, we showed you how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet and certain letter combinations in German. Now we want to concentrate on how to pronounce other letters and letter combinations found within German words. For instance, a "d" at the end of a German word usually has a hard "t" sound in German, not the soft "d" sound of English. That is just one example of the many possible pitfalls found in the chart below.

Similar Words
In addition, the fact that English and German words are often identical or very similar in spelling can lead to pronunciation errors. We'll show you some mistakes you can avoid in the second chart below, but here are two "dangerous" examples: bomb/Bombe and pizza/Pizza. The German word for bomb is pronounced BOM-bah (the "b" is not silent and the final "e" is sounded). A German pizza sounds like PITS-uh, not PEET-sa! (Hear audio!)

Here are some more examples of German pronunciation pitfalls:

AUDIO > RealAudio sound for this page!

Letters in Words
Spelling Aussprache
Beispiele / Examples
final b p Lob (LOHP)
final d t Freund (FROYNT), Wald (VALT)
final g k genug (guh-NOOK)
silent h - gehen (GAY-en), sehen (ZAY-en)
When h follows a vowel, it is silent. When it precedes a vowel (Hund), the h is pronounced.
German th t Theorie (TAY-oh-ree)
German v f Vater (FAHT-er)
In some foreign, non-Germanic words with v, the v is pronounced as in English: Vase (VAH-suh), Villa (VILL-ah)
German w v Wunder (VOON-der)
German z ts Zeit (TSITE), like ts in "cats"; never like an English soft z (as in "zoo")
Similar Words
Pronunciation Pitfalls
BOM-buh The m, b, and e are all heard
zhuh-NEE The g is soft, like the s sound in "leisure"
NAHT-see-ohn The German -tion suffix is pronounced TSEE-ohn
pah-PEER Stress on the last syllable
PITS-uh The i is a short vowel because of the double z
ALSO SEE > False Friends (German/English)
AUDIO > RealAudio sound for this page!

BACK > Diphthongs & Consonants

ALSO SEE > Alphabet Exercises

Previous Lesson (Lektion 1a)

NEXT LESSON > Lektion 2

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CONTENTS > German for Beginners

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