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How to Learn German Vocabulary: Top Tips and Resources

If you want to be fluent in German, you will have to learn German vocabulary. There is no getting around that. But where should you start? How do you expand your vocabulary? And how many words do you need to know, really?

Here are our top tips and resources that will help you on your quest to learn German vocabulary.

Learning German vocabulary: The basics

Before we dive deep into specific learning techniques and strategies, it’s important to answer some commonly asked questions about learning German vocabulary.

Is German vocabulary difficult?

There is a common misconception about the German language, and that is that it’s extremely hard to learn. Many find the idea of German intimidating. But the truth is that it’s not all difficult.

Like English, German is a Germanic language. This means that there are many similarities between the two languages. Some estimates suggest that English and German have a lexical similarity of 60%.

So, while German grammar might be a little scary sometimes, German vocabulary is nothing to be put off by. Just look at these words and how similar they are to their English equivalents:

German English
lang long
helfen help
Apfel apple

How many words do I need to learn to be fluent in German?

Some people like having a specific number in mind, as it helps them focus on their goal. But the number of words you’ll need to memorize will depend on why you’re trying to learn German vocabulary and what you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re just traveling to Germany and want to get by without any issues in your day-to-day life, you’ll only need to learn about 2000 words.

An advanced German learner will know anywhere between 4000-8000 words.

If your goal is to be fluent in German, you’ll need to learn 10,000+ words.

These numbers aren’t exact. After all, learning a language isn’t a science. However, they are good estimations to keep in mind when you’re trying to learn German vocabulary.

Learning German vocabulary: Where to begin

Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to go ahead and learn German vocabulary. But now what? Where do you start? Here are our suggestions:

Learn the German alphabet

The good news is that the German alphabet is very similar to the English alphabet. The pronunciation can differ, though. This is why it’s important to master the alphabet – it will make learning new words and their pronunciation easier.

One of the best ways to learn the German alphabet is by memorizing it. And why not do that in the form of a song? Check out this catchy alphabet song by Learn German Through Music.

Learn the most common verbs

You can’t speak a language without using verbs. Verbs are important, and they are a good place to start when you’re trying to learn German vocabulary. You don’t have to learn too many verbs to start with, though. Just master the most commonly used ones first.

We’re talking about verbs like “sein” (meaning “to be”), “haben” (meaning “to have”), “gehen” (meaning “to go”), etc.

Here is a helpful list of the top 100 German verbs by The German Professor.

Learn basic nouns

Verbs are obviously important, but they’re not the only words you need to learn. If you want to learn German vocabulary, you’ll need to look into German nouns as well. After all, if you’re trying to say that you have an apple, you need to know more than just how to say “to have.” You’ll need to know the German word for “apple” (“Apfel”), too.

GermanPod101’s list of 100+ must-known German nouns is a good place to start building your vocabulary.

Important: When learning German nouns, don’t forget to learn their grammatical genders, too. If you don’t know the correct article for each noun, you won’t be able to speak German correctly. So, don’t just remember that “car” is “Auto” in German. Make sure you know that it’s “das Auto.”

How to learn German vocabulary: Top tips

Learn your surroundings

One of the best ways to learn German vocabulary is to surround yourself with the language. It’s simple: just grab a couple of post-it notes and write down the German words for the things around you. Is there a mirror in your room? A closet? How about a desk?

Write down these words, then stick each post-it note on the corresponding piece of furniture. And that’s it. Now, every time you brush your teeth in front of the mirror, you’ll be reminded that “mirror” is “der Spiegel” in German.

This is a great way to learn some basic, useful vocabulary without spending too much time sitting down and trying to cram a bunch of words. By surrounding yourself with the language, you’ll be able to learn German vocabulary without too much effort.

Use flashcards

There is a reason why flashcards are popular with language learners. They work!

So, compile a list of German words that you’d like to learn and create some good old paper flashcards. You can take these with you anywhere and practice German on the go.

Waiting for your pasta to cook? Learn some German!

Have a long train journey ahead of you? Take out the flashcards!

It’s a simple, easy, and practical way to learn German vocabulary.

Tip: If you’d prefer to go paperless, try apps like Quizlet or Anki instead.

Watch videos, movies, and TV shows

One of the best ways to learn German vocabulary is to do so in context. Hearing the words you’re trying to learn in sentences can be incredibly useful. That way, you’ll also learn other information – for example, which prepositions go with which verb, etc.

Most of us like curling up in front of the TV and putting on a good movie. So, why not combine your TV time with your German learning journey?

Just put on a German movie or video – or try watching your favorite English TV show with German dubbing.

YouTube is another great way to learn German vocabulary, especially if you are a beginner. For example, this Public Transport in Slow German video by Easy German is a good way to learn means of transport vocabulary:

Start a German journal

If you truly want to learn German vocabulary, you’ll need to focus on more than just taking all the new words in. Make sure that you can also use them yourself.

One great way to practice this is by writing in German. Our advice is to buy a small notepad. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Then, once you have it, make it your German journal.

Write in it about your day as often as you can. Describe what happened to you and how you felt. If you don’t know a word that you desperately need to use, look it up in a dictionary. Then, make sure to use it again in your journal sometime soon, so that it sticks.

This is a good way to make sure that you remember all the German vocabulary that you’ve learned so far.

Resources to learn German vocabulary

In the age of the internet, it is no longer necessary for us to rely on expensive, boring textbooks. But if you don’t want to use traditional textbooks, then where should you look for learning materials?

Here are some of our favorite resources for learning German vocabulary:


Duolingo is a well-known app for a reason. It’s a great resource for new learners – especially when it comes to vocabulary. The lessons on Duolingo are short and fun. They are also often centered around a specific theme – which is great for learning new words.

The app is free to use, although they do offer a premium version, which you can check out if you have some extra cash.


Clozemaster is an amazing language-learning app that will help you bridge that gap between advanced beginner and native-level content.

If you want to learn German vocabulary, Clozemaster is a great way to do that. There are thousands of fill-in-the-blank sentences in various game modes that are fun, innovative, and informative.

You can use the iOS or the Android version – or there’s a web app, too, if that’s what you’d prefer.


Anki is great for those of you who’d like to step up your flashcard game. It uses a spaced repetition system, meaning that the algorithm shows you the words you struggle with more often while spacing out the words that you know very well a little more.

If you want to use Anki, you can create your own decks. But there are also many good decks already out there. Here are some we would recommend:

Goethe Institute

Did you know that the Goethe Institute has its own vocabulary trainer app? It’s free to use, and it uses a flashcard system to help you learn German vocabulary.

The app has vocabulary lists suitable for many different language proficiency levels – long story short, there’s something for everyone!

All you need to do is connect to the internet, get the app, and start learning.

Everyone needs a good dictionary when learning a new language. If you’re trying to learn German vocabulary, but you’re not sure about a specific word, it’s good to look it up online. We would recommend using, which is a comprehensive and easy-to-use German online dictionary.

Clozemaster Blog

Last but not least, the Clozemaster blog also has many useful articles that can help you learn German vocabulary. For example, you can learn more about German days of the week.

Other useful articles include:

How to learn German vocabulary: Final thoughts

Learning German vocabulary doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right attitude and resources, it can actually be a lot of fun! So, what are you waiting for? Get started now!

If you’d like to learn more about the German language, you can also check out some of our other articles. Here’s where you can start:

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Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in German.

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