German Lessons | German Grammar

Lesson 5: Volk und Familie


German Dialogue • Volk und Familie
Visiting Family Besuchende Familie
Vater, Mutter und die Geschwister bekommen Besuch von Oma und Opa
Vater KarlHallo Mama, Hallo Papa! Wie geht es euch?
Opa RudolfNa mein Enkel, du bist ja richtig groß geworden!
Oma LisaMir geht’s gut. Ich gehe zum Kurfürstendamm. Möchtet ihr mit mir kommen?
Sohn ThomasJa, Opa, ich weiß.
Tochter MarieOma! Hast du uns etwas mitgebracht?
Mutter BettinaNun sei nicht so aufgeregt Marie, lass Oma und Opa erst einmal hereinkommen.
kurze Zeit später, die Geschenke wurden schon ausgepackt…
Tochter MarieMutti! Thomas nimmt mir immer meine Puppe weg.
Mutter BettinaThomas! Du sollst deiner Schwester nicht ihre Puppe wegnehmen.
Sohn ThomasNein, das ist meine Puppe.
Mutter BettinaNein. Die Puppe gehört deiner Schwester.
Sohn ThomasGut, hier hast du die Puppe…
Mutter BettinaUnd bedanke dich bei deinen Großeltern, Marie.

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The Family

Home is where the heart is, they say. And what is in the home? Family! of course, so this is a very important section of the lesson. It’ll give all vocabulary for the family, and later in a different section, you’ll learn how to describe your brothers and sisters or any person! And now to get started lets do some vocabulary…

German Vocabulary • Volk und Familie
The Family Die Familie
DadPapa (informal), Vati (informal)
MumMama (informal), Mutti (informal)
WifeEhefrau, Frau (informal), Gattin (formal)
HusbandEhemann, Mann (informal), Gatte (formal)

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Now even though many of these are common phrases you and I would say in everyday life, some of these are rather used when you are on a visit to grandmother’s, or things your mother would say. Maybe you notice some of these in the dialogue. Now you might be asking “How am I going to speak fluent German, if I just learn phrases?” Like I said, these are basically from the dialogue, and you can study these to look at the word order. Also certain things are just different in German, like “Wie heißt du?” which translates literally to “How are you called?” when we use “What is your name?”. Okay let’s get started on these common phrases…

Du bist ja richtig groß geworden.

You have grown up so much (usual sentence used by Opa und Oma)
Hast du uns etwas mitgebracht?

Have you brought something for us?
Nun sei nicht so aufgeregt.

Now don’t be so excited.
Komm rein.

Come in.
(Sie) Wurden schon ausgepackt.

(They) Have already been opened.
(Sich) Bedanken für etwas.

To thank for something.

Using Formal and Informal Pronouns in the Family

Some very conservative families might still use Sie with grandparents or even parents! This is sometimes practiced in families of nobility or exterritorial cultural islands in which older German customs have survived. However, using “Sie” feels very outdated to the vast majority of people. In practically every family all members use du with each other.

Describing People

I can’t describe in words how important this section of the lesson is. Even though you have already learned to describe to some degree, here we will introduce a new aspect of describing, and we will review. But how could we describe if we didn’t have vocabulary? Here it is…

German Vocabulary • Volk und Familie
Describing People Beschreibend Leute
NiceNett, Sympathisch
MeanUnfreundlich, Gemein
NastyFies, Gemein
CleverSchlau, Klug, Clever
ActiveRührig, aktiv
FunnyKomisch, witzig
TalentedBegabt, Talentiert
UntalentedUnbegabt, Untalentiert
FatFett, Dick

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The verb used most often for describing is “to be” which we learned in the first lesson. Some examples are: He is wet, This is stupid, I am lazy. But you do use other verbs like feel, look, etc. This lesson we will be sticking mostly with the verbs we’ve learned in the past. We will, however, learn one new verb. All sentences we will create will be in the nominative case. Okay, let’s get started!

In term of beauty, you can say four basic things. These aren’t the all but these are the easiest and simplest ones.
She is beautiful.

Sie ist schön.
He is ugly.

Er ist häßlich.
These two use the verb to be, and the next one will use the verb to look which would need something else in order to make sense.

She looks beautiful, but that shirt is ugly.

Sie sieht schön aus, aber dieses Hemd ist häßlich.
He looks ugly, but he looked handsome yesterday.

Er sieht häßlich aus, aber gestern hat er schön ausgesehen.
And in the last sentence it says “ausgesehen.” Don’t worry about that–it wouldn’t be taught until Level 3. So since you get the idea of describing, let’s learn a new verb! And the new verb is klingen which is to sound. As in “He sounds weird.”, “She sounds boring.” Since we know how to describe, we really don’t have to cover it. It’s works just like other verbs.

He sounds nice.

Er klingt nett.
They sound funny.

Sie klingen komisch.
Remember that when describing it’s S+V+A, or subject, verb, then adjective. Exactly like in English. For right now, that’s all for describing things. We are going to have some small describing lessons with some parts of this lesson.

Related Verbs

Okay we just went over the verb in the previous section. This will basically be a list that will help you memorize them better, and there is not a lot. Other then “klingen” and “fühlen” you should know all of these. The “Er sieht aus” is to show you it is a separable-prefix verb.

German Vocabulary • Volk und Familie
Verbs Verben
To beSein
To lookAussehen
He looksEr sieht aus
To feelFühlen
To soundKlingen

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This also a large section of this lesson, nationality, it is very important. You can use it as a stereotype, or for your heritage. There are many nationalities, too many to go over in this lesson, you will more nationality as this level, and book goes on. Right now we are just going to have a vague little list, and as this section goes there will be more, like Swede and Swedish or Frenchman, Frenchwoman, and French. And so for the list…

Some Nationalities

This is the small list, make sure you memorize this list and the next one.

German Vocabulary • Volk und Familie
Nationalities Nationalitäten

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Describing People with Nationality

It is no surprise you can describe people with nationality, most times, it’s stereotypical, like norwegians are blonde, tall, etc. or germans wear lederhosen, drink beer, and play polka all day long, but that is just not true. However you can just use it for what it is, a nationality. If you do describe people by nationality this will help. Okay, you should already know how to describe, right?

This part we will get more in to detail later, but right it is an important part of describing people with nationality, even though in English we most times don’t do this, in German they do. The difference between nationality and language, like in English, French and french. But in german it is französisch and Franzose, Französin. This also is how it works for nationality describing by noun or adjective, which we are going to learn right now.

Noun or Adjective Nationality

There are two ways to describe someone. With a noun-based nationality word or an adjective-based nationality word. But note that in German the noun-based form is used more often.

Example: Ich bin Schwede (I am Swedish) and Ich bin schwedisch (I am Swedish)

Example: Ich bin Franzose (I am French) and Ich bin französisch (I am French)

More Nationalities

A longer list of nationalities found in and around Germany:

German Vocabulary • Volk und Familie
More Nationalities Mehr Nationalitäten

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Now we are all familiar with the word “alt’“, which means old. And in English, to find out somebody’s age we ask “How old are you?“. In German it is exactly the same. The “alt” kind of belongs to the interrogative adverb, so in both German and English it may be in front of the verb:

Wie alt bist du?

How old are you?
Now to ask the question with 1st person it is…

Wie alt bin ich?

How old am I?
And as response you might get…

Ich bin __ Jahre alt.

I am __ years old.
Du bist __ Jahre alt.

You are __ years old.
And now the plural version of the 1st person…

Wie alt sind wir?

How old are we?
The responses you will get is…

Wir sind __ Jahre alt.

We are __ years old.
Ihr seid __ Jahre alt.

You all are __ years old.
To ask this important question in the 2nd person. First, we will learn the biggest question here, “How old are you?” which is…

Wie alt bist du?

How old are you?
And there is only one response to this it is…

Ich bin __ Jahre alt.

I am __ years old.
For the equally important plural 2nd person…

Wie alt seid ihr?

How old are you all?
Which the response is…

Wir sind __ Jahre alt.

We are __ years old.
And formal question, for both singular and plural is…

Wie alt sind Sie?

How old are you?

How old are you all?
You should all ready get the pattern for this, but we are going to keep on doing this list, if you aren’t sure of something or you are confused. So for the 3rd person…

Wie alt ist er/sie?

How old is he/she?
The responses to this are…

Er ist __ Jahre alt.

He is __ years old.
Sie ist __ Jahre alt.

She is __ years old.
And now the plural 3rd person of question and response…

Wie alt sind sie?

How old are they?
And of course the response…

Sie sind __ Jahre alt.

They __ years old.
Now with some people you might be able to guess their age, and you could ask them directly about it. This is usually pretty of rude, but it illustrates nicely how the phrase has to be changed if you ask a yes-no-question, so let’s get started, anyway!
Bist du __ Jahre alt?

Are you __ years old?
Ist er/sie __ Jahre alt?

Is he/she __ years old?
Sind sie __ Jahre alt?

Are they __ years old?

Note the inversed order between “Wie alt bist du?” und “Bist du __ Jahre alt?” This is exactly the same as in English!


2ndyourdein, Ihryoureuer, Ihr
3rdhis, her, itssein, ihr, seintheirihr

Note: ‘Euer’ is irregular. When ‘euer’ has to have a different ending the e before r is dropped, so it turns into ‘eur-’.

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