The 1000 Most Common German Words


It isn't easy to learn a language. Yet, it's not as difficult as some people make it seem either. The good news? It takes grit more than intellect.


You are looking for the 1.000 most commonly used German words. You already know about the importance of learning the most used words first, but let recap.


To learn German fluently, it is sensible to start by learning the 1000 most common German words.


These top 1000 words are the most important. These words are the most commonly used and will help you understand approximately 85% of spoken German and 80% written German.

We publish frequency dictionaries. They contains the most common words in a language. Check out what our fans have to say here: German frequency dictionary reviews here.


The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule in Language Learning.


Keep in mind the Pareto Principle and 80/20 Rule. You only need to have 20% of your results in order to get 80%.


It is more beneficial to know the verbs "I want" and "I have" rather than low-frequency words like "appliance", "chicken coop", or "bladder". You'd want to know the latter of these terms if you need to talk about them, so they require specialized study. Beginners do not need them to know. Even the word for " throat", which is around the 3500th most common word, appears in the early lessons of traditional beginner German vocabulary learning material.


Research shows that we are more likely to repeat the same words and phrases repeatedly, even when there are better words or phrases. Although there are many synonyms for "good", you will still hear it 90% of the time. It would be best to focus on the words that give you the most significant results in the least amount of time.


Remember the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule. The 20% you have learned is what will make up 80% of your results. 


Why are there different lists of the 1000 most commonly used German words?


You may have noticed there are many different lists of the top 1000 German words. What is the point of having other lists for the top 1000 German words? What is the difference between a bad and a good list? I give you two possible answers:


Reason 1: Each list is different because the source texts used will be different.


Written and spoken languages are different. Writing and reading use different vocabulary, just like the vocabulary you'll encounter while speaking and listening differs from the written word. This is a fundamental fact to know before you begin learning German vocabulary from a list. Suppose the source text does not contain a mixture of spoken and writing language, and you are learning German to get by in daily life. This includes speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Possibly with an emphasis on speaking, listening, and reading. In this case, you'd not be progressing optimally. I recommend looking for a list that is based on both spoken and written German.


Because subtitles cover both speaking and writing, this is the main reason we base our frequency lists on them. Research shows that subtitles are the best way to make a comprehensive frequency list that correlates to both spoken and written language.


Reason 2: The list was not cleaned or has been incorrectly cleaned.


Here is an example: I'll use the Wikipedia list. It's a German frequency list, which is based on the Wikipedia corpus. It is a collection of all Wikipedia text that has been run through a basic text analyzer. There are many text analyzers available, each with different pricing and features. Wikipedia lists all single words and ranks them according to how frequently they are used.




Wikipedia's frequency list is only the raw data. These entries are not cleaned up. This list includes names, other proper nouns, and verb conjugations, as well as random plurals and superlatives. My linguistic nerd heart breaks and cringes when I see this raw data list being touted as a good German frequency list to learn from.


The words are not lemmatized, as they say in linguistic terms. Lemmatization is the process of restoring the word to its original form, the lemma. The lemma is the root or the dictionary form. The raw data list will contain many conjugated words, rather than just the root word. 


A frequency list that is reliable and adequately lemmatized will be more helpful for language learners. You can also use the Pareto Principle to find verb conjugations. Quickstudy offers a great grammar cheatsheet. Our books cover all German vocabulary you need. They're a winning combination. Here is a short overview of how to learn a language quickly:


  1. Learn ten new German words per day.
  2. Learn the most commonly used grammar rules.
  3. Learn the most commonly used verb conjugations and then move on to irregular verb conjugations.
  4. Focus on learning more vocabulary.




Learning from a pure wordlist is not "natural language acquisition". It is not the best way to learn German vocabulary.


You learned most of your first language from context. (Ok, and full immersion and instant feedback from private tutors: your teachers, parents, and peers.)


Even if you are just learning new words in your native tongue, I recommend looking for a frequency list that includes sample sentences. Natural language learning occurs in chunks and not through individual terms from a wordlist. You'll learn more quickly this way because it mimics natural language learning.You will also get German reading practice and additional vocabulary from context. That is why all our entries include a German-English sample sentence.


What is the average time it takes to learn the top 1000 German words and phrases?


I'll now show you how long it will take to learn 85% of daily German using extremely advanced mathematic principles.


  • If you only learn 30 words per day, you can reach the level mentioned above in 33 days.


  •  You can reach your goal in 50 days if you're learning at least 20 new words each day.


  • You can reach your goal in 100 days if you learn just ten words per day.


Which are the best ways of learning vocabulary?


These are just a few more tips to help you learn quicker.


  1. Spaced repetition. It is a good idea to revisit vocabulary items every now and again. Flashcards use this principle. The same principle is used in most German audio courses, such as Michel Thomas (my favorite) or Pimsleur. Paul Pimsleur actually did extensive research on memory hacking and spaced repetition. The (excellent) Pimsleur language courses were then created on based on his research.

  2. Set goals. Failure to plan is planning for failure. Our goals should be set in stone. Take a look at the above examples to see how long it takes you to learn the 1000 most commonly used German words.

  3. Keep it up. Students give up on language learning. Be among the 1.5% who achieve their goals. Yes, according to research, 98.5% of all traditional language learning fails. 


Conclusion: Learn German fast with Word Lists


Concentrate on the first 1000 most common German words. A reliable German frequency list should be used. Make sure that the list is based on both spoken and written language. You should ensure that the top 1000 words include at least one German sample sentence to go with each entry. This will allow you to see the words in context. Learning in chunks is a great way to learn any language, as it mimics natural language learning. You should set daily goals and keep them in mind. Whatever happens, it doesn't matter: just learn those few words! 


Also remember that a year is a long time, but a day is only a day. Before you know it, you'll be fluent in German.


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