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31 Basic and Creative Phrases to Start a German Conversation

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How do you start a German conversation?

If you studied language while at school, chances are that your learning consisted of reading page after page from a textbook. While you may have eventually improved your reading skills, most of what you learned doesn’t really transfer very well to real life.

Do you go around asking people how old they are and telling everyone your trousers are blue in your native tongue? Of course not! You want to ask people how they’re feeling or what their interests are.

In this article, I’ll just dive straight in with sharing the German conversation starters you can use.

Let’s dig in!

German Conversation Starters: Breaking the Ice

The first thing you might want to start your conversations with is a simple “hello”, but what next?

I’ve compiled a list of possible scenarios to help you break the ice when striking up a German conversation with a stranger.

The most important thing to remember when starting a conversation is to say something. Once the words start flowing, you never know where you’ll end up.

On the Street

  • Entschuldigung, wie spät ist es? (“Excuse me, what time is it?”)
  • Wo ist eine Bank? (Where’s a bank?”)
  • Wie weit ist es? (“How far is it?”)
  • Können Sie es mir (auf der Karte) zeigen? (“Can you show me (on the map)?”)

At a Train Station

  • Ist dieser Platz frei? (“Is this seat free?”)
  • Hält dieser Zug in….? (“Does this train stop at…?”)
  • Wie lange dauert die Fahrt? (“How long does the trip take?”)
  • Welcher Bahnhof ist das? (“Which station is this?”)

In a Restaurant

  • Gibt es noch etwas zu essen? (“Are you still serving food?”)
  • Entschuldigung, kann ich die Karte sehen? (Excuse me, can I please see the menu?”)
  • Was empfehlen Sie? (“What would you recommend?”)
  • Haben Sie vegetarisches Essen? (“Do you have vegetarian food?”)
  • Wie groß sind die Portionen? (“How big are the portions?”)
  • Kriege ich das auch ohne Tomaten? (“Can I get that without tomato?”)
  • Ich bin allergisch gegen Nüsse. (“I’m allergic to nuts.”)
  • Gibt’s auch Nachtisch? (“Do you have dessert too?”)
  • Das hat hervorragend geschmeckt! (“That was delicious!”)
  • Können Sie das einpacken? (“Can you wrap that up to go?”)

German Conversation: Asking After Interests

Once you’ve started a conversation, how can you keep it going?

A good way of doing this is to ask your conversation partner about their interests. You could ask:

  • Hast du eine deutsche Lieblingsband? (“Do you have a favourite German band?”)
  • Spielst du ein Instrument? (“Do you play an instrument?”)
  • Welche Sportarten magst du? (“Which type of sports do you like?”)
  • Was ist dein Lieblingsessen? (“What’s your favourite food?”)

German Conversation on a Night Out

When you’re out on the town, here are some German phrases you can use to start a conversation.

  • Was gibt’s vom Fass? (“What’s on tap?”)
  • Dieses Kleid steht dir sehr gut! (“That dress looks good on you!”)
  • Ich gebe Ihnen/dir einen aus. (“I’ll buy you a drink”)
  • Was möchten Sie/du? (“What would you like?”)
  • Diese Runde geht auf mich. (“It’s my round.”)
  • Kannst du Billard spielen? (“Do you know how to play pool/billiards?”)
  • Ich hätte gern Orangensaft, bitte. (“I’ll have an orange juice, please.)
  • Können Sie Klubs empfehlen? (“Can you recommend clubs?”)
  • Versuchst du mich anzumachen? (“Are you trying to pick me up/hit on me?”)

Ready to Start Speaking?

At Fluent in 3 Months, we are big supporters of the concept of speaking from day one. You need to get as much practice under your belt as possible if you want to become conversational in another language.

The most important step towards this is finding someone, preferably a native speaker, to speak with!

Here are some useful apps and websites that you can check out to find your next conversation partners:

  • Preply: Preply connects language students with private tutors for 1-1 lessons. Language lessons take place online in a virtual classroom. All you need is a computer, WiFi and a sense of adventure.
  • HelloTalk: HelloTalk is a language learning app that connects you directly with native speakers, and provides an interface to text and speak with them, all from your smartphone.
  • Mundo Lingo: Meet polyglots and language learners at events in your city.

Related learning: Check out this Language Hacking Podcast episode by Kerstin Cable, the co-creator of the Fluent in 3 Months favourite German course German Uncovered.

Learn from her experience as a polyglot!

Time to Say Goodbye

Before I became Benny the Irish polyglot, I thought I couldn’t learn foreign languages, but here I am.

Back in April 2023, I found a copy of the Indonesian translation of my Language Hacking German book!

I went on a 3-month German-learning journey and successfully completed it! I was able to share my experience and write a book

All you need is to get started without fear, so learn a couple of these conversation starters and practice your way to fluency in German!

Tschüss! (“Goodbye!”)

author headshot

Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

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