When you’re learning a new language, grammar is often the most difficult part to master. This is because you have to learn complex rules that are completely different than your native language. Below, German teacher Jonathan B. shares some tips and tricks on how to master German grammar…
If you’re learning German, there are a few key grammar rules that you need to know. In this post, we’ll give you a rundown of the top German grammar tips and tricks to help make your learning process easier.
So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to brush up on your skills, read on for some helpful advice!
How Can I Be Good at German Grammar?
For those who are looking to master German grammar, there are a few key tips to keep in mind:
- Focus on mastering the basics. This means getting a firm grasp on German verbs, nouns, and adjectives.
- Move on to more complex grammatical concepts.
- Be sure to practice regularly. Language learning is a process, and regular exposure will help you to retain what you have learned.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes, and the more you practice, the closer you will get to fluency.
By following these simple tips, you can set yourself on the path to success in learning German grammar.
And the best way to get better at German grammar, of course, is to sign up for German lessons!
Here’s a video with more information on what you might learn in German lessons:
What Are the Grammar Rules in German?
Basic German grammar will throw most non-native speakers for a loop. Below are my top tips and tricks that I’ve learned from years of German schooling, traveling, and hosting German travelers. I’ll start with some pointers that will get you out of trouble fast and move toward tips that will help you master the language. Let’s get started.
1. Know When it’s OK to Cheat
It’s rare that you’ll ever met a non-native German speaker with perfect grammar. There’s two reasons for this:
- German grammar takes intense study to master, which most people aren’t willing or able to do.
- Most situations don’t call for perfect German grammar.
Remember that German has an evolving language family just like English. The southern region of the United States, for example, has a variety of accents. Similarly, there are many varieties of German accents, including Plattdeutsch, Bayerisches Deutsch, Switschisch Ditsch, and Hochdeutsch.
Strict Hochdeutsch grammar is expected in academic and business settings. In casual settings, however, I have found that most Germans are thrilled that you actually took the time to study their language! In fact, many Germans from regions with a strong dialect use grammar variants all the time, so you as a traveler are not alone.
If you’re learning German for yourself or because you want to travel, you might want to consider taking a few German lessons with an expert who speaks Hochdeutsch. If you’re getting on a plane tomorrow that lands in Berlin, here’s a list of German grammar rules you need to know (in order of importance): Nouns and vocab first, conjugation and word order second, cases and gender last.
2. Borrow From English
Remember that German and English are related languages. Believe it or not, the everyday street talk of English speakers around the world is based mostly on German vocabulary. Use this to your advantage by looking for German words that look and mean the same as they do in English, also known as cognates.
In English, for example, we have the verb “drinking,” which is similar to the German word “trinken.” Likewise, when the verb is conjugated for different cases and tenses, the sound changes are parallel. See examples below.
- English: I drank water
- German: Ich trank Wasser
- English: I had drunk water
- German: Ich habe Wasser getrunken
Below are some more examples of German/English cognates:
- Singen: to sing
- Formalizieran: to formalize
- Sinken: to sink
- Stinken: to stink
- Tanzen: to dance
There are many more words like this, so keep your eyes out! Beware, however, because there are also false cognates that don’t follow the conjugation patterns.
3. Die Wortstellung: The Verb-At-The-End Rule
If you’re going to focus on one German grammar rule, pick this one, as it’s often the most difficult for students to remember. Study it long and hard until you understand it inside and out!
In almost all types of sentences, all verbs other than the main verb go to the very end of the sentence. See example below:
- English: I would like to eat ice cream.
- German: Ich möchte Eis essen.
See how the word “eat” is placed at the end of the sentence? Now take a look at another sentence.
- English: I went walking in Berlin once.
- German: Ich bin einmal in Berlin spazieren gegangen.
Again, the subject “Ich” comes first, then the main verb. Because of the tense, we use “bin” as the main verb and put “spazieren gegangen” at the end.
There are many other things to know about word order in German, but verb-at-the-end is the main rule that will help you learn German grammar.
4. Study Noun Gender Rules
Genders in German are the hardest to learn. Luckily, however, it’s also the least important aspect of grammar. Most languages don’t have as many genders as German, and keeping track of a gender for every noun is enough to keep you busy. Then again, knowing your genders makes your German really ‘top shelf.’
For a non-native speaker, there are two keys to remember:
- Treat the gender as part of the word. When you learn to say the word “car,” learn it as “das Auto” rather than just “Auto.“
- Study gender rules! They are numerous and picky, but they save an enormous amount of time. One rule can save you from having to memorize hundreds of noun genders, so it’s totally worth it.
I’ll give you just a few to start with…
- All plural nouns become feminine: This is the primary gender rule that can affect meaning. Some nouns can not be distinguished between a plural and a non- plural form. For example, the word for “window” is “das Fenster” and the word for “windows” is “die Fenster.” Then again, this rule has no exceptions so it’s easy to remember.
- Almost all rivers outside of Europe are masculine: Seems nitpicky, eh? Yet think of how many noun genders you don’t have to memorize now. The one common exception is the Thames in England, which is die Themse. Otherwise, you have der Nil, der Amazonas, der Yukon, der Mississippi, etc.
Advanced German Grammar Tips
If you’re studying German, you’ve probably already learned the basics of grammar. But what about some of the more advanced concepts? Here are a few tips to help you take your German grammar to the next level.
One important thing to remember is that German nouns are always capitalized, regardless of whether they appear at the beginning of a sentence. This can be tricky for English speakers, who are used to only capitalize proper nouns.
Another thing to keep in mind is that German verbs have three different conjugations – one for each person (I, you, he/she/it). This can be confusing at first, but with a little practice it will become second nature. Just make sure to conjugate the verb correctly depending on who is doing the action.
Finally, don’t forget about gender agreement. In German, all nouns are either masculine, feminine or neutral. This means that articles and adjectives must agree with the noun in terms of gender.
For example, the masculine definite article “der” becomes “die” when used with a feminine noun. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to master these advanced grammar concepts in no time!
Best German Grammar Exercises and German Grammar Drills
When it comes to grammar, there’s no such thing as one size fits all. Different people learn best in different ways. Some people prefer to memorize rules and exceptions, while others prefer to dive right in and start speaking the language.
And still others find that a combination of both approaches works best for them. If you’re new to learning German, you may be wondering what the best way to go about it is. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing German grammar exercises and drills.
First, consider your learning style. If you’re someone who likes to have a clear understanding of the rules before you start speaking, then grammar exercises will probably be more helpful for you. On the other hand, if you’re someone who prefers to jump right in and get started with conversation, then grammar drills might be a better option. There’s no right or wrong answer here – it’s really just a matter of finding what works best for you.
Second, think about your level of German. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to focus on basic grammar exercises that cover the essential building blocks of the language. As you become more confident and proficient, you can gradually move on to more challenging exercises that work on more advanced German grammar concepts.
Where Can I Find a German Grammar Checker?
There are a few different places you can look for a German grammar check. The first place to check is online. There are a number of websites that offer free grammar checks, and many of them will be able to handle German. Another option is to download a grammar checking program.
These programs usually have to be purchased, but they can be very helpful for checking grammar in any language.
Finally, you can always ask a native speaker to help you with your grammar. This is usually the best option, but it may not be possible if you don’t know anyone who speaks German. Whichever option you choose, there are plenty of resources available to help you get a German grammar check.
How Can I Learn German Grammar Fast?
Learning grammar can seem like a daunting task, especially for a complex language like German.
However, there are a few strategies that can help you to quickly master the basics of German grammar.
One effective method is to create cheat sheets with key grammatical rules. These can be used for quick reference when you are studying or practicing your German. Another helpful approach is to find online resources that provide step-by-step explanations of grammatical concepts.
These can be a valuable tool for visual learners.
Finally, practice makes perfect, so make sure to get plenty of speaking and writing experience to really cement your understanding of German grammar. With a little effort, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can learn the basics!
Is German Grammar Difficult?
The many German grammar rules we’ve looked at today are certainly not the only ones you need to worry about when learning German, but they will help you get started.
As with any language, practice makes perfect, so be sure to use these tips and tricks as often as possible in your everyday speech and writing.
And if you still have questions after reading this post or want more detailed explanations of some of the concepts covered here, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We’re always happy to chat grammar! Do you have a question about one of the rules we looked at today? Let us know in the comments below.
There are many more German grammar tips and tricks like this that will help you save time and get you to grammar perfection much faster. It’s always best to review and expand on these tips with an experienced teacher who knows the language and can guide you to your goals!
Jonathan B. is a German language teacher in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!