Understanding the Differences between German and English Language

How to learn a language? You will find a lot of suggestions on Google with this related keyword. However, learning a language has its turmoil too. So what’s the best way to learn a language? To compare it with your native tongue! If you are a German keen on learning English, you will face various challenges related to learning a foreign language. Similarly, when it comes to learning German, and if you are an English speaker, you will face challenges. 

Despite the differences in both languages, there are a lot of similarities in German and English. If you understand the similarities and differences, you have a better chance to overcome the language barrier and learn consistently. Using language apps is a useful way to get around the differences and practice things the right way, however, you still need to get accustomed to speaking and writing too. There is only so much an app can do. 

How German and English are similar?

Before you jump to the differences, it’s best to start by finding common ground between German and English. 

German and English belong to the West Germanic, a family of Indo-European language. The language shift happened when Romans left England. Once Vikings settled, Old English settled its roots. If you have learned Old English, it does sound a lot similar to German. Similarly, Frisian (spoken by Dutch) is a lot similar to English too. Word orders and vocabulary are quite similar between English and German.

Major differences between German and English

Two languages can be similar and yet different at the same time. Despite the fact, German and English share the same language branch, the following are the differences that can hinder the learning process. 

Alphabet system 

English with time reduced the alphabetic letters; from 29 letters to 26 letters. Besides the 26 letters in use, English has modified characters too like ö, ü, and ä, double S or scharfes S that is represented by ß.

The common mistakes made by Germans learning English is that they confuse E or R with A and I. This is due to the minute but sentence altering mistakes that can change the entire meaning of what is being said. 

Gendered nouns and articles

Learning articles between English and German is not an easy feat. The German language has multiple articles because of which an English speaker takes time to learn the words and pronunciations. Usually, in European languages, there are two genders. German has three genders. 

This means three articles are used for nouns, which takes some time to get accustomed to. It’s easy to get confused and lose confidence in the way of learning German, but don’t be too self-conscious. It takes time, but you can get the hang of German easily. 

Noun variations

The practice of capitalizing nouns varies in German and English.  On one hand, English capitalized only the proper nouns, German, on the other hand, capitalized all nouns. Is this confusing? Yes, it is for English speakers as it makes it hard to identify the nouns in writing the script. 

Once you are studying how to write German, focus on the capitalized words, note the changes in the articles that proceed them. This will help you understand the difference in nouns. So be ready and patient towards reading and writing the German. 

Word lengths

The use of compound words is different in English and German. For instance, you may use these words, “it was a highly decorated bedroom” or “he’s just complaining about the delay” and so on, these are short and understandable sentences. German also uses compound words, but it’s larger than the ones used in English. In German, 4 or 5 words are combined to create a long compound word.

Besides the capitalized nouns, this can also create confusion, but once you get the hang of the words, it will quicken the learning process. 

Silent letters

It’s not only German that may sound foreign to one’s ears. English is as foreign a language as any other. Spelling words can be a nightmare for learners when they get knocked by the silent letters. Keeping this point on mainframe German seems easier as there are no silent letters. Just because a word starts with “k” and ends with an “e” doesn’t make a word silent. 

For instance knee and knife, both are silent words (start with K and end with an E), “know” is also a silent word (although it doesn’t end with an E) so it does create complications for a German learner to keep up with the silent words. 

Variation from “to have” to “to be”

When someone says, “I am thirsty” this associates the action with being “thirsty”. In German, you will say, “I have thirst”. This doesn’t clarify whether the person is thirsty constantly or temporarily. So when you are reading German, read the sentence carefully. 

Pay close attention to the words that are easy to translate, then gradually move forward with German to English translation. Reading sentences from German to English translation will improve your learning pace. 

Phonology

German and English sounds are almost similar to each other. The same goes for intonation and word stress patterns. But there are still minor changes as well. 

In German, the “th” sound is absent so the words starting with “th” (there, there, the, etc.) will be hard to pronounce. The same case is with V and W. Germans cannot distinguish between both letters but in English V and W are spoken clearly like we, wine, vine where, etc. 

German would pronounce WE as VE. This will distinguish verbal communication. 

Hard to get used to differences but not impossible

As you can see, German and English just doesn’t end there. Regardless of how small or big the differences are, you can overcome them by focusing on the right grammar for the right language. With time it becomes easier to get accustomed. Learn the differences one at a time, and German to English fluency or English to German translation will become easier for you. 

Fröhliches Lesen!

(Happy reading!)

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