English vs. German
A short language comparison
Some basic information about the
languages
• English and German are two Germanic
languages and therefore share many of the
same characteristics
• English and German belong to the “West
Germanic” group of the Indo-European language
family
• English developed from the “Low German”
• Modern High German developed from the “High
German”
Language Tree
•
German
• English
-
Deutsch  official
language of Germany,
Austria, and Switzerland
around the world,
German is spoken by
approximately 95 to 110
million native speakers
and another 20 million
non-native speakers
- the official language of
Australia, New Zealand,
and the United Kingdom
- the standard language of
the United States
- spoken by 370 million
people as first language
(estimated), circa 3 billion
total
-
The sounds in both languages
• both the English and the German alphabet
consist of 26 letters, using the Latin
alphabet
• however, more phonetic symbols are used
in transcription of German words
• sometimes, same sounds are pronounced
in a different way
Phonetic symbols
The "th" sound (all positions)
English
Old English
German
think
þencean
denken
three
þrīe
drei
this
þis
dies
thou
(you sing.)
þū
du
leather
leðer
Leder
path
pæð
Pfad
/x/ before /t/
English
Old English
German
brought
brōht
gebracht
thought
þōht
gedacht
[ts] and [ç]
• English: sits /sɪts/, sets /sets/, cats /kæts/
• German: zu /tsu:/, zehn /tse:n/, Zunge
/tsʊŋə/, Zimmer /tsɪmɐ/
• German: [ç] like in ich, Milch, Pech
Additional characteristics in
German
• German umlaute: Ä ä, Ö ö, Ü ü
• [y] Fülle
• [y:] Rübe, Tür
• [ɛ ] mästen
• [ɛ:] wählen
• [ø] Ökonom
• [ø:] Öl
sounds doesn’t exist in
English
• Eszett: - ß (also called “sharp s”)
- rules where “ß” can be replaced
with “ss”
Example: Fuß (foot), Füße (feet)
Inflectional system
• inflection: change of form or modification
that words undergo to make distinctions
such as case, gender, number, tense,
person, mood, or voice
Gender of words
• Grammatical gender is not very important
in English  nouns in English have lost
their gender (except for certain
professions)
• All German nouns are either masculine,
feminine, or neuter
• The gender of the German noun is often
indicated by the article (definite or
indefinite)
Definite article and gender
masculine
feminine
neuter
der Mann
(the man)
die Frau
(the woman)
das Kind
(the child)
der Ball
(the ball)
die Tasche
(the bag)
das Haus
(the house)
der Baum
(the tree)
die Lampe
(the lamp)
das Jahr
(the year)
- der Student (masculine)
student
- die Studentin (feminine)
- der Lehrer (masculine)
teacher
- die Lehrerin (feminine)
Cases of nouns
• In German, words (usually nouns) can
have a variety of forms depending on its
function in the sentence  case
• The four cases in German:
 the subject or nominative case
the direct object or accusative case
the indirect object or dative case
the possessive or genitive case
• The nominative case is used in reference to the subject of a
sentence.
• Der Mann / Die Frau / Das Kind isst.
(The man / the woman / the child is eating.)
• The accusative case is used in reference to the direct object of a
sentence.
• Ich sehe den Mann / die Frau / das Kind.
(I see the man / the woman / the child.)
• The dative case is used in reference to the indirect object of a
sentence.
• Er gibt dem Mann / der Frau / dem Kind den Löffel.
(He gives the spoon to the man / the woman / the child.)
• The genitive case is used in reference to a possessed object of a
sentence.
• das Buch des Mannes / der Frau / des Kindes
(the man's / woman's / child's book)
Present tense of verbs
Personal
Pronoun
ich/I
German
English
spiele
play
du/you
spielst
play
er, sie, es/he,
she, it
wir/we
spielt
plays
spielen
play
ihr/you
spielt
play
sie/they
spielen
play
False Friends
GIFT
Meaning in
English
a present
Meaning in
German
poison
KIND
nice, generous
a child
ROCK
a stone
a skirt
BOOT
a tall shoe
boat
BAD
evil, harmful
bath
HANDY
easy to handle
cell phone
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English vs. German