BLL German/A1/Lesson 1

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German in bite-sized chunks - Level A1 - Lesson 1[edit]

Goal[edit]

In this lesson you will learn how to introduce yourself in German. You need not have any previous knowledge of German or English grammar terms, however you should have consulted the page on pronunciation and memorised basic greetings from there.

Text[edit]

"Guten Tag! Ich heiße Lisa Müller. Ich wohne in Bern, aber ich komme aus Deutschland. Ich arbeite als Fremdenführerin."
"Guten Tag! Ich heiße John Smith. Ich komme aus Manchester, aber ich arbeite in Bern."

New words[edit]

German English Comment(s)
ich I Not capitalised, unless at the beginning of a sentence
heißen to be called This is one verb, not a direct equivalent of "to be called". It's simpler in the same way as "to receive" is simpler than "to be given"
wohnen to live In the sense of "to inhabit", not "to be alive"
in


in
aber but Used much more often than in English
kommen to come
aus from
Deutschland Germany The -land suffix means the same as in English. "Deutsch" alone means German (language)
arbeiten to work
als as
Fremdenführerin (female) tourist guide The male form is "Fremdenführer". It's very common to form the female variety of any profession by adding -in.

Explanations[edit]

  1. You probably already noticed that there's an entry for e.g. "heißen" in the vocabulary list but not for "heiße". That is because "heiße" is a conjugated form, like "am called", whereas "heißen" is the infinitive "be called". You wouldn't say "I be called" either, would you? That's what "ich heißen" would sound like to a German. So take off the -n from all the verbs listed in the vocabulary or a dictionary in order to get the 1st person singular form (the one to be used with "I").
  2. Why is Fremdenführer just one (admittedly long) word? Germans don't like to put spaces in between nouns that obviously belong together, so in such cases you will often find them glued together while English uses two words to convey the same meaning. The words glued together here are: "Fremden"(strangers) and "Führer"(guide, leader). In your pronunciation you should always reflect that these are separate parts and pronounce it "Fremden-führer". If you pronounce it "Frem-denführer", people might have difficulties understanding you.
  3. Why is Fremdenführer spelled with a capital letter? This is not a typo. In German, you actually have to spell every noun with a capital letter. This may look strange to you at first, but it is very useful, because it makes the language less ambiguous, at least in writing.

Exercises[edit]

  • Use the words you have learned in this lesson as often as you can in the next few days. If you don't know any Germans or German-learning friends on whom you could try them out, at least call them up in your memory whenever you have a few minutes to spare and imagine how you would introduce yourself to somebody in Germany.

  • Choose the correct answer:
    • Which of the following German phrases is not said when greeting somebody?
A. Hallo!
B. Guten Tag!
C. Guten Abend!
D. Gute Nacht!
    • Which words require a capital letter in German?
A. The word at the beginning of a sentence, the word "Ich" and proper words like "Deutschland".
B. The word at the beginning of a sentence and all nouns, for example also words for professions.
C. Only the word at the beginning of a sentence.
D. The first word and then every third word following it.
    • Which of the following sentences contains a mistake?
A. Ich kommen aus London.
B. Ich heiße Lisa.
C. Ich arbeite als Putzfrau.
D. Ich wohne in Berlin.
    • Which of the following sentences contains a mistake?
A. Ich wohne in Deutschland.
B. Ich komme aus New York.
C. Ich heiße Thomas.
D. Ich arbeite als Fremden Führer.
Answer to this exercise
1D, 2B, 3A, 4D
  • Fill in the blanks with the following verbs: arbeiten, heißen, kommen, lernen (= to learn), lieben (= to love), sprechen (= to speak)
Hallo! Ich ___ Max Schmidt. Ich ___ als Kaufmann in Amerika, aber ich ___ aus Hamburg. Ich ___ Deutsch und Englisch. Ich ___ Spanisch. Ich ___ Spanisch.
Answer to this exercise
heiße, arbeite, komme, spreche, lerne, liebe
  • How do you say...
    • that your name is Michael?
    • that you come from America?
    • that you live in Hamburg, not necessarily meaning that you were born there?
Answer to this exercise
Ich heiße Michael. Ich komme aus Amerika. Ich wohne in Hamburg.

Extension[edit]

If you'd like to learn more words that you can use without having to study another lesson, use this section in order to find them. Feel free to learn selectively, picking out words you consider useful for your situation or interesting. If you don't have the time, you can just skip this section. You will not be required to know any of these words in the next lessons.

Additional expressions: "Ich spreche Englisch und Französisch. Ich lerne Deutsch." New words: sprechen (to speak), und (and), lernen (to learn) and language names from the list.

Countries
German English
Amerika America
Australien Australia
Deutschland Germany
England England; also often incorrectly used to refer to all of Britain
Frankreich France
Großbritannien Great Britain
Indien India
Irland Ireland
Italien Italy
Kanada Canada
Mexiko Mexico
Neuseeland New Zealand
Österreich Austria
Russland Russia
Schweiz Switzerland
Spanien Spain
Südafrika South Africa

(a more complete list can be found here, but country names on that list that consist of more than one word might not fit seamlessly into the pattern "Ich komme aus ...")

Cultural information: Bern[edit]

Bern is the capital of Switzerland. Despite that, it's a comparatively small city with a population of about 130,000. It sits on a peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare. Bern's beautiful old town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and there are a lot of fascinating places to go, particularly if you are interested in history or art. Read more about Bern on Wikipedia.