English vs German: Similarities and Differences

7 minute read

Nobody can disagree that English and German are two widely spoken languages. While the former is a global language, the latter is only second to English in terms of global speakers, with over 100 million speakers across all continents. If you want to learn German, now is the moment because of globalization and its high demand in the competitive job market. However, you may believe it is a difficult task, but it is not. If you are fluent in English, you should have no trouble studying and mastering the German language. However, if you are a newbie, the procedure will be gradual. We’ve compiled a list of similarities between the English and German languages, particularly for you.

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History of Both the Languages

Before we get into the similarities, you might be wondering why German is thought to be an easier language to learn. Many European languages have influenced English, although its roots are firmly in the Germanic languages.

After the Romans left the island of England, it was frequently attacked by Vikings, who later settled there. Spending time with someone who understands Old English can rapidly reveal how close English and German used to be. Its divergence from its roots was caused by influences from other languages. The most similar language to English today is Frisian, which is spoken by the Dutch. It is an excellent bridge to better understanding German if you wish to learn two languages at the same time.

Knowing the differences and similarities between German and English languages makes it easier to feel at ease when speaking German. There is a lot that will be extremely familiar as you learn German, from word order to vocabulary. Being aware of the most significant differences might help you focus on the most difficult aspects while feeling at ease with the things that are similar.

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Similarities Between English and German

Here are some common similarities between English and German languages. Check them out!

Both are Germanic Languages

The most important element to remember is that English is a language that evolved from West Germanic around 2,000 years ago. Indeed, both German and English are regarded as part of the Indo-European language family’s Germanic branch, implying that they are still closely connected today.

Given their common ancestors, it should come as no surprise that they bear striking resemblances. It is estimated that more than a third of English non-technical lexicons, as well as many English words, are of Germanic origin. Furthermore, vocabulary from Latin, Greek, and French have been borrowed into current languages.

Same Alphabets

One of the most obvious parallels between German and English is that both languages use the same 26 Latin alphabet letters. This is a significant advantage because it allows English speakers to begin writing in German right immediately.

This shift is rather simple, with the exception of learning rules for the additional umlauted letters (ä, ö, and ü) and the Eszett or sharp S (ß). It is undeniably advantageous for an English speaker attempting to learn a language such as Mandarin, Arabic, or Japanese, which use wholly distinct writing systems.

English Uses a Number of German Words and Vice-Versa

If you can speak English, you probably already know some German words! The English language has borrowed a number of words from German, some of which are fairly common. For example, the term ‘rucksack’ to describe a bag carried on one’s back, or the term ‘angst’ to express worry in psychology.

When discussing food and drink, the use of German terminology in English becomes even more widespread. When discussing alcohol, the term “spritzer” (apple) is frequently used, as are the words “pretzel,” “strudel,” and “bratwurst.” Meanwhile, the term ‘delicatessen’ has been borrowed by English to denote businesses that sell pre-prepared dishes.

The German language has also borrowed a number of English words over the years. This is especially noticeable in the fields of technology, music, advertising, and fashion, where English speakers should encounter many familiar words and phrases when learning German.

The words ‘Computer,’ ‘Designer,’ ‘Album,’ ‘Image,’ and ‘Laser,’ for example, have all been taken from English, and English terminology is frequently borrowed when a fad begins outside of German-speaking areas. ‘Skateboarding’ and ‘Aerobics’ are two examples, both of which are recognised by German speakers.

Same Grammatical Rules

One trait that English speakers who attempt to learn German may notice is a similarity in grammatical rules. The verb ‘to drink’, which is ‘trinken’ in German, is perhaps the best example of this.

The English term changes depending on the tense, from’ drink’ to ‘drank’ to  ‘drunk’. In German, you use the words ‘trinkt’, ‘trank’, and ‘getrunken’ for the same three tenses, and the same general pattern applies to most other verbs as well. As a result, an English speaker can typically have a solid sense of German verb patterns right away.

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Arabic Numbering Systems

Another benefit of studying German as an English speaker is that the two languages share the same Arabic numbers and numbering system. Numbers, like in English, are made up of sequences of the digits 0-9, and while these numerals have distinct names in German, they all follow the same basic principles.

This is likely best demonstrated by examining the numbers from 10 to 20.

English: ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, and twenty in English.

German: zehn, elf, zwoelf, threezehn, vierzehn, fünfzehn, sechzehn, siebzehn, achtzehn, neunzehn, zwanzig.

The suffix ‘teen’ is substituted with ‘zehn’, but the essential pattern remains the same.

Popular Global Languages

English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, yet this status can often stymie English speakers’ desire to acquire a second language, particularly if that language is regarded to be of lesser global importance.

The German language, on the other hand, is still prospering and is the single most frequently spoken language in the European Union. It is an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and several other countries, as well as a recognised minority language in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Namibia, and Denmark.

Employment Prospects

Another similarity between German and English is their prominence in the workplace. German, like English, is considered a major commercial language and is often used in political conversations. Because of this, there is never a scarcity of translators who are fluent in both languages.

Furthermore, both languages can lead to opportunities to work in certain industries abroad. Did you know, for example, that German is the second most commonly used language in science? Meanwhile, writers may be interested to discover that one-tenth of all books published worldwide are written in German.

Words With the Same Sounds

For example, the Germanic word for “house” is “Haus,” the Germanic word for “university” is “Universidad,” and the Germanic word for “camera” is “Kamera.” Even the German phrase “Ich trinke Wasser” translates as “I drink water.” As a result, it is reasonable to argue that the parallels in word sounds between the two languages are limitless.

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Differences Between German and English

However, there are several distinctions between German and English:

  • Every noun in German has a gender; it is either masculine, feminine, or neuter.
  • There are three different terms for “you” in German, but just one in English. There are four if the impersonal “man” is included.
  • There are more verb forms in German than in English.
  • German has more letters than English and has different pronunciations.
  • German is the only known written language in which all nouns are capitalised, whether or whether they are proper nouns.
  • In German, the verb is sometimes the last word of a phrase.
  • In German, there are no auxiliary verbs.
  • In German, adjectives have multiple ends depending on the noun they modify.
  • German has a stronger ‘guttural’ tone. You speak in the back of your mouth in German.
  • The letter “I” (ich) is capitalised only when it is the opening word of a sentence.
  • There are four examples in German and three in English.

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Examining these cognates proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt: In terms of common words, German and English have a lot in common. Between the two languages that have a history of borrowing from each other, you can discover the same exact words, similar variations, or even distinct meanings of the same spelling. If you speak one of these languages, now is the time to learn the other! These related terms will hasten the absorption process tenfold! And if you ever get confused, you can refer to this blog!

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Why are there similarities between English and German?

One of the primary reasons for the relationship and similarities between the English and German languages is that English is a language that evolved from West Germanic at least 2,000 years ago. This means that both German and English are members of the Indo-European language family’s Germanic branch.

What language is similar to German?

German is most closely related to other West Germanic languages such as Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German, Luxembourgish, Scots, and Yiddish.

What is the mix between German and English?

Denglisch is a term used to describe the rising use of anglicisms and pseudo-anglicisms in German. It is a combination of the German terms Deutsch (German) and Englisch (English). The word was first used in 1965.

This was all about the similarities between English and German. If you wish to read more such interesting blogs, subscribe to Leverage Edu.

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