German For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is set up so that you can use it any way you want to — as a reference to dip into for specific questions you have about German, as a means of gaining knowledge of German in a systematic way, or just for the fun of getting the feel for another language. Perhaps your goal is to learn some words and phrases to help you get around when you travel to a German-speaking country. Maybe you simply want to be able to say “Hello, how are you?” to your German-speaking neighbor. At any rate, you can go through this book at your own pace, reading as much or as little at a time as you like. You don’t need to plod through the chapters in order, either; you’re welcome to read the sections that interest you most.
To make this book easy for you to navigate, we’ve set up a few conventions:
✓ German terms are set in boldface to make them stand out.
✓ Pronunciation is set in parentheses following the German terms, and the stressed syllables are italicized.
✓ English translations are italicized. You’ll find them set in parentheses following the pronunciation of German terms or sentences.
✓ In some cases, German speakers use the same pronunciation as English speakers for words, many of which are borrowed from English or other languages. When such words are pronounced the same way in German as in English, you’ll see the English word in the pronunciation followed by the notation “as in English” rather than the usual phonetic pronunciation. Of course, if the pronunciation differs between the English and German, we include the German pronunciation as usual.
✓ Verb conjugations (lists that show you the forms of a verb) are given in tables in this order:
• The “I” form
• The “you” (singular, informal [or sing. inf.]) form • The “you” (singular, formal [or sing. form.]) form • The “he, she, it” form
• The “we” form
• The “you” (plural, informal [or pl. inf.]) form
• The “you” (plural, formal [or pl. form.]) form
• The “they” form
Pronunciations follow in the second column. The example shown uses the verb “to be.” The conjugation starts with the German equivalent of “I am, you are,” and so on.