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German Diphthongs

This lesson contains topics:

  1. Diphthongs in the German language
    1. EI
    2. IE
    3. AU
    4. EU
  2. Consonant combinations in German
    1. tsch
    2. sch
    3. sp
    4. st
    5. ch
  3. German words ending in ion
German A1 book
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The goal of this lesson is to learn the pronunciations of diphthongs and constant combinations in the German language. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. How to pronounce German diphthongs? (combinations of vowels) EI, IE, AU and EU.
  2. How to pronounce the German consonant combinations, i.e. tsch, sch, ch, sp and st.

Also in this lesson, vocabulary is not important to learn. Just memorize these combinations and their pronunciation.

German diphthongs pronunciation guide

Diphthong is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. In the German language, diphthongs are:

EI, IE, AU, and EU.

EI

The combination of German vowels e and i always produces a sound similar to the English word “eye”. For example:

IE

The German diphthong ie generates a sound similar to the English combination “ee” in words "flee" or "free". For example:

AU

The Combination of German vowels a and u produces a sound similar to “ow” in the English word cow or now. For example:

EU

The diphthong formed by the combination of vowels e and u produces a sound similar to “oy” in the English word boy or joy.

ÄU

Same is the case for the combination äu, because a with the umlaut (ä) generates a sound similar to the German letter e.

Consonant combinations in German

Like German diphthongs, there are a few combinations of consonants that generate specific sounds. For English speakers, these combinations are not difficult to learn. These combinations are:

tsch, sch, ch, sp and st.

tsch

The combination of letters tsch always produces a sound similar to “ch” in English words which or switch. For example:

sch

The combination of letters sch generates a sound equal to the English combination “sh”, like in the English word show. For example:

Sp

When the German letter S comes before the letter P at the beginning of a word or a syllable, it gives a tone similar to the above-discussed consonant combination sch. For example:

St

Similarly, when the German letter S comes before the letter T at the beginning of a word or a syllable, it gives a sound of the combination sch. Please see the following examples.

ch

In normal conditions, the combination of German consonants c and h produces the same sound as the combination of sch. For example:

However, the following are two special cases in which the sound of consonant combination ch changes.

i. ch pronunciation in German after a vowel

When the combination of consonants c and h comes after a vowel it produces a somewhat similar sound to the combination of “ck” in the English word sick. Vowels in German are the same letters as in English i.e. a, e, i, o, and u. For example:

ii. ch sound before the letter s (ch+s)

A consonant combination of ch before the letter s gives a sound of the letter "x". For example:

German words ending in ion

Ion is not a consonant combination, but it gives a special sound that's why it's included in this lesson.

The combination of ion gives a sound of “eon” in the English word Neon. Following are examples of some words ending in ion. Meanings of all these following words are the same as their English counterparts.

  1. Addition
  2. Aggression
  3. Definition
  4. Demonstration
  5. Depression
  6. Emotion
  7. Evolution
  8. Explosion
  9. Generation
  10. Illusion
  11. Information

Vocabulary building

mein-auto Car illustration

person illustration Hallo (hello)

person illustration Hallo (hello)

person illustration Ist das Auto ein Taxi? (Is this car a taxi?)

person illustration Nein, das ist mein Privatauto. (No, this is my private car.)

person illustration Warum ist das gelb? (Why is this yellow?)

person illustration Das ist grün nicht gelb. (This is green, not yellow.)

person illustration Ja, aber die Reifen sind schwarz. (Yes, but the tires are black.)

person illustration Die Reifen sind immer schwarz. (Tires are always black.)

person illustration Mein Auto ist schwarz und die Reifen sind weiß. (My car is black and tires are white.)

person illustration Unglaublich. (Unbelievable.)


Wortschatz (Vocabulary)

ein (a/an indefinite article)

warum (why)

gelb (yellow), grün (green), schwarz (black), weiß (white)

nicht (not)

die Reifen (the tires, German nouns are always capitalized. There is no distinction between proper and improper nouns.)

die (the / "die" is a definite article, used with all plural nouns and singular feminine nouns. German nouns have three genders i.e. masculine, feminine and neuter, and three definite articles for these three genders )

ist (is), sind (are)

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