The Best Way to Study German

By optilingo

Study German the right way. Learn how to develop your own German study guide and learn how to study German on your own terms.

OptiLingo’s free online German grammar lessons are perfect for all ranges of study. Whether you’re just beginning to learn German or you are already an advanced speaker, our free German grammar lessons will teach you the basics and help you master more advanced topics the quick and easy way.

The Easy Way to Learn German Grammar

OptiLingo’s free online German lessons offer the best way to learn German grammar. We give you the structure you need to understand how the German language works and then lots of helpful examples to illustrate each principle in practice. We believe this is the best way to learn German- just a little bit of theory and a lot of practice.

How to Study German Grammar

Throughout free online German grammar lessons, we offer a range of helpful German vocabulary words and lots of helpful German survival phrases. We combine all of this with helpful grammatical references that provide the context necessary to understand why a certain German phrase or sentence works the way it does. For anyone who has ever struggled with how to learn German grammar, we know that this approach works the best.

There’s no need to wait! Get started with OptiLingo’s free online grammar lessons!

At OptiLingo, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to learning German- or any other language. For that reason, all of the lessons in our free online German course are available for you to chose from. Some might want to start at the beginning and work their way through each free German lesson. Others might want to pick and chose; whether you’re just beginning with German or you are already at an intermediate or advanced level of German, the decision is up to you. Feel free to check out some of our most popular and helpful German grammar lessons below.

German alphabet and pronunciation

The German alphabet, or “das Alphabet” in German, consists of the same 26 letters as the English alphabet. (In case you’re curious, the proper German pronunciation of “Alphabet” is “al-fa-BEET”.) It is similar to the English alphabet, with a few extra letters. In this section on the German alphabet, we’ll walk you through those differences so you can master the German alphabet and German pronunciation quickly and easily.

German dialects

Most people are familiar with the two main dialects of German, Standard German. Like many widely-spoken languages, however, German comes in many different varieties, and some would argue that there are as many as 10 different dialects.

German numbers

Want to count to 10 in German? How about 100? Then you’ll need to learn German cardinal numbers. Do you want to describe the first time you went to Switzerland? How about the third time you visited Austria? Then you’ll need to learn German ordinal numbers.

German articles

In English, there are direct and indirect articles: “the” and “a” (or “an”). There are also German direct articles and German indirect articles, but there are many more, depending on the case of the noun the article is referring to. There are four cases of nouns in German, with four corresponding articles that indicate if the noun is singular or plural and feminine, masculine, or neuter. The nominative case is used for subjects and nouns that refer to the subject; the accusative is used for direct objects and temporal relationships; the dative is used for dative verbs like “to answer,” “to help,” or “to believe,” as well as indirect objects; and the genitive is used for relationships between two nouns and possessive nouns.

German nouns

Unlike English, German nouns may be masculine, feminine or neuter in gender. Similar to English, German nouns may also be singular or plural. Generally speaking, German nouns that refer to males are masculine and German nouns referring to females are feminine, but nouns referring to inanimate objects and abstract concepts also have grammatical gender.

German pronouns

German pronouns operate a bit differently from English pronouns and come in a number of different varieties:

German personal pronouns: fall into the categories of German nominative, accusative, and dative personal pronouns, which correspond with the noun cases.

German reflexive pronouns: reflect back on other nouns (such as “myself,” “yourself,” etc.) and have either accusative or dative cases.

German possessive pronouns: indicate possession and agree with the gender or the subject rather than the object.

German relative pronouns: relate back to other nouns or stand in for them to introduce a new clause.

German interrogative pronouns: also referred to as German question words; these are similar to “who, what, where, when, why, how” in English. They come in nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases, like nouns.

The subject of German pronouns is rich and complex, and the links above will provide you with a grounding in this topic.

German adjectives

There are two types of descriptive adjectives in German: predicate and attribute.

Predicate adjectives follow linking verbs like “to be” or “to remain.” They modify the subject and do not have a gendered ending.

Die Frau ist schlau

The woman is clever

Attribute adjectives precede nouns or pronouns and take special endings determined by the gender, number, case and article of the nouns they modify.

Die schlaue Frau

The clever woman

Adjectives have different endings based on the case, gender, and plurality of the nouns they modify. The different endings are as follows:

Adjectives preceded by definite articles and der-words

Nominative: -er (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Accusative: -en (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Dative: -em (m), -er (f), -em (n), -en (pl)

Genitive: -es (m), -er (f), -es (n), -er (pl)

Adjectives preceded by indefinite articles and ein-words

Nominative: -er (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Accusative: -en (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Dative: -em (m), -er (f), -em (n), -en (pl)

Genitive: -es (m), -er (f), -es (n), -er (pl)

Adjectives preceded by neither article

Nominative: -er (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Accusative: -en (m), -e (f), -es (n), -e (pl)

Dative: -em (m), -er (f), -em (n), -en (pl)

Genitive: -en (m), -er (f), -en (n), -er (pl)

German comparatives and German superlatives

German comparatives and German superlatives operate similar to their counterparts in English. Put simply, comparatives are adjectives that compare one object to another; for example:

Der Junge is Größer als das Mädchen.

The boy is taller than the girl.

German superlatives contrast one item among all others as having the highest degree; for example:

Der Junge ist der Größste in der Klasse.

The boy is the tallest in the class.

German adverbs

Whereas adjectives describe nouns and pronouns, German adverbs describe adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. In English, adverbs are formed by adding –ly to adjectives. In German, many adverbs are formed by adding –mente to the feminine form of the adjective.

German verbs

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Writing in German (German sentence structure)

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German grammatical cases

German grammar is comprised of four cases. These include the following:

German nominative case: applies to subjects of a sentence

German accusative case: applies to direct objects

German dative case: applies when referring to indirect objects

German genitive case: applies when one object belongs to another

German cognates, false cognates and German false friends

Around 80% of English words are derived from Germanic languages. These shared words are referred to as cognates. At the same time, there are a number of words that sound similar in both languages but have different meanings. These are called false cognates or false friends.

Additional reference

In addition to all of the above, OptiLingo’s free online German course also provides a number of reference-based German lessons on German holidays, how to say the seasons in German, as well as German days of the week and German months of the year.