What Are Some Simple German Words?

Some simple words in German include "ja," "nein," "bitte," "danke" and "tschüß." They mean "yes," "no," "please/you're welcome," "thanks" and "bye," respectively. "Ich," "du," "es," "er" and "sie" are also simple German words, meaning "I," "you," "it," "he" and "her," respectively.

This West Germanic language has status as an official language in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, as well as Belgium and Italy. There are approximately 90 million speakers of German's standard dialect, called "Hochdeutsch" ("High German"). Some words differ based on the region, such as "servus" and "grüß Gott" (both meaning "hello"), which are only used in Austria and Southern Germany.

"Bitte" is a simple word in that its primary meanings ("please" and "you're welcome") are very basic, but in truth it has many different nuanced meanings. For example, the phrase "Wie bitte?", which literally means "How please?", means "Pardon me?". It can also mean "here you go" and is often said by a waiter delivering food to the table. Sometimes, the words "sehr" ("very") and "schön" ("beautiful") can be said after "bitte."

There are also a number of simple, as in basic, German words called modal particles. These words are extremely nuanced and cannot be translated into English. "Ja" both means "yes" and functions as a modal particle with three usages: expressing surprise, expressing urgency and expressing obviousness. "Mal," literally meaning "time," is another, and it serves to soften the tone and convey casualness. In some cases, it could be translated into English as "just."