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Word Frequency in German: Top 100 Words

Part 1: The Top 50 Basic German Words

The Most Important German Words
Edited and Ranked by Frequency of Use (1-100)

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About This Edited List
The words ranked here are taken from German newspapers, magazines and other online publications in German. A similar ranking for spoken German would be quite different. Although it is based on it, unlike the word frequency compilation from the Universität Leipzig, this edited Top 100 list of the most common German words in print eliminates duplicates (dass/daß, der/Der) and considers conjugated verb forms as a single verb (i.e., ist represents all forms of sein, "to be") to arrive at the 100 most common German words you should know (for reading). However, most personal pronouns have their various forms listed separately. For example, the first-person singular forms ich, mich, mir are listed as separate words, each with its own rank. Alternative forms of other words (in parentheses) are listed in order of occurrence. The ranking below is based on the University of Leipzig compilation as of 8 Jan. 2001 (link below). See the Introduction to The German Top 1000 for more information.

Also see the Top 30 Words for spoken German.

Top 100 German Words (1-50)
Edited and ranked by frequency of use
German Reading Vocabulary
Rank Word Comment/Link
1 der (den, dem, des) "the" m. - definite article
See Nouns and Gender
2 die (der, den) "the" f. - definite article
See Nouns and Gender
3 und "and" - coordinating conjunction
4 in (im) "in, into" (in the)
See Two-Way Prepositions
5 von (vom) "of, from"
See Dative Prepositions
6 zu (zum, zur) "to; at; too" preposition or adverb
See Dative Prepositions
7 das (dem, des) "the" n. - definite article
See Nouns and Gender
8 mit "with" - See Dative Prepositions
9 sich "himself, itself, yourself"
See Reflexive Verbs
10 auf See Two-Way Prepositions
11 für See Accusative Prepositions
12 ist (sein, sind, war, sei, etc.) "is" (to be, are, was, be, etc.)
Verbs: sein
13 nicht "not"
14 ein (eine, einen, einer, einem, eines) "a, an" - indefinite article
See Nouns and Gender
15 als "as, than, when"
16 auch "also, too"
17 es "it"
18 an (am/ans) "to, at, by" - See Two-Way Prepositions
19 werden (wurde, wird) "become, get"
Verbs: werden
20 aus "from, out of" - See Dative Prepositions
21 er "he, it" - personal pronoun
See Personal Pronouns
22 hat (haben, hatte, habe) Verbs: haben
23 dass / daß "that" - See Double-s words
and Subordinating conjunctions
24 sie "she, it; they" - personal pronoun
See Personal Pronouns
25 nach "to, after" - See Dative Prepositions
26 bei "at, by" - See Dative Prepositions
27 um "around, at"
See Accusative Prepositions
28 noch "still, yet"
29 wie "as, how"
30 über "about, over, via"
See Two-Way Prepositions
31 so "so, such, thus"
32 Sie "you" (formal)
See Personal Pronouns
33 nur "only"
34 oder "or" - coordinating conjunction
35 aber "but" - coordinating conjunction
36 vor (vorm, vors) "before, in front of; of"
See Two-Way Prepositions
37 bis "by, until"
See Accusative Prepositions
38 mehr "more"
39 durch "by, through"
See Accusative Prepositions
40 man "one, they"
Personal Pronouns
41 Prozent (das) "percent"
42 kann (können, konnte, etc.) "be able, can"
Modal Verbs: können
43 gegen "against; around"
See Accusative Prepositions
44 schon "already"
45 wenn "if, when"
See Subordinating conjunctions
46 sein (seine, seinen, etc.) "his" - possessive pronoun
47 Mark (Euro) Der Euro was put into circulation in Jan. 2002, so "Mark" (Deutsche Mark, DM) is far less frequent now. See: Deutsch und der Euro
48 ihre/ihr "her, their" - possessive pronoun
49 dann "then"
50 unter "under, among"
See Two-Way Prepositions
Introduction < BACK | NEXT > Words 51-100
Also see the (unedited) Top 1000 German Words and
the Top 30 German Words (for spoken German)

NEXT > German Words 51-100
MORE > Top 30 German Words (spoken German)

A few observations about the Top 100 German Words:

  • In this edited list of the Top 100 German Words, there are only 11 nouns (in ranked order): Prozent, Mark (Euro), Jahr/Jahren, Uhr, Millionen, Mensch/Menschen, Deutschland, Ende, Zeit, Stadt, Berlin. These nouns reflect common news and business content in German-language periodicals.
  • Since several simple past tense forms (Imperfekt, war, wurde, sagte) appear in the top 100, it might be better to introduce the past tense earlier in German instruction/learning. In German reading material, the simple past is used more than in conversation.
  • Zipf's Law seems to hold true: There is an inverse relationship between the length of a word and its frequency. The most frequent words are monosyllabic. The longer the word, the less it's used, and vice versa.

Related Pages

The German Top 1000
An introduction to our reading word-frequency list.

Top 30 German Words (Speaking)
This ranked word frequency list for spoken German reveals many differences, but also some similarities between spoken German and German in print.

Top 20 German Verbs
The 20 most frequently encountered verbs in German.

German for Beginners
Our free online German course.

English-German glossaries on a variety of topics.

Wort des Tages
What's today's German word of the day? Beginning or advanced.

German Newsletters
Subscribe to a free newsletter!


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