You always want to make a great first impression, don’t you? When meeting someone new at work, at parties, on vacation, at the gym, …
A friendly “Hello, I’m Susan. How are you?” can help you make new friends and build lasting business relationships.
But imagine your potential client, mutual friend, or future father-in-law came from a German-speaking country.
Would you be able to introduce yourself in German?
Not quite sure? Then keep reading to learn some of the most common German introductions.
The Dos and Don’ts of Introducing Yourself in German
✔️ Make eye contact and get ready to shake hands.
✔️ Start with a greeting like “Hallo,” “Guten Tag,” or “Guten Abend.”
✔️ Tell them your name: “Ich bin Tom” or “Mein Name ist Olivia Jones.”
❌ Don’t kiss cheeks in a formal setting. It’s considered inappropriate.
❌ Don’t ask new acquaintances how they are doing. That’s rather unusual.
❌ Don’t forget to make some small talk after introducing yourself.
Some Basic German Greetings
Whenever you see or meet someone – be it at the restaurant, in the supermarket, at work, or in the street – saying “Hallo” is an absolute must in German-speaking countries. Even if you don’t know that person.
Depending on the time of day, you can also choose between one of these greetings:
🇩🇪 Guten Morgen!
🇺🇸 Good morning!
🇩🇪 Guten Tag!
🇺🇸 Good day/afternoon!
🇩🇪 Guten Abend!
🇺🇸 Good evening!
They are more formal than “Hallo” and the perfect choice when you want to greet an older person, your superior, or a new client.
Please note that there are some regional differences. People from Southern Germany and Austria usually use “Grüß Gott” instead of “Guten Tag” – whereas people from Switzerland are likely to use “Grüezi.”
When meeting (mutual) friends, family members, or young people, you shouldn’t use the above greetings. It’s way more natural to say “Hi” or “Hey” instead.
In addition, there are two other ways of saying “Hi” in Austria and Switzerland:
How to Introduce Yourself and Others in German
Now that you’ve learned the most common German greetings, let’s take a look at some easy ways of introducing yourself:
🇩🇪 Ich bin Sarah
🇺🇸 I’m Sarah
🇩🇪 Ich heiße Bill
🇺🇸 I am Bill
🇩🇪 Mein Name ist Peter Jones
🇺🇸 My name is Peter Jones
The last one is the most formal of the three. You should use it when telling people your full name.
You may have noticed that there’s not a huge difference between German and English sentence structures. We both use a subject (pronoun or noun) at the beginning, followed by a verb and an object.
However, compared to English, the endings of German verbs and nouns change quite a lot. But now is not the right time to talk about cases or inflections – you can learn about the German case system here.
Let’s instead continue with some good ways of introducing your family, friends, or colleagues in German:
🇩🇪 Das ist Lisa, meine Schwester. (= neutral)
🇺🇸 That’s Lisa, my sister.
🇩🇪 Darf ich dir meinen Freund vorstellen? (= informal)
🇺🇸 May I introduce my friend?
🇩🇪 Ich möchte Ihnen gerne meinen Chef vorstellen. (= formal)
🇺🇸 I would like to introduce you to my boss.
The first phrase can be used in all sorts of contexts. But we’d better take a closer look at the other two examples.
You should know that there are two kinds of “You” in German. An informal and a formal one.
“Dir” refers to the pronoun “Du,” which is used when talking to your relatives, (mutual) friends, and younger people.
“Ihnen” refers to the pronoun “Sie”. You should use these when you’re having a conversation with superiors, clients, or older people.
How to Exchange Courtesies in German
“Nice to meet you” is a typical courtesy expression in English, isn’t it?
If you’d like to win the hearts of your German clients, professors, or in-laws, you might want to use the following German equivalents:
🇩🇪 Schön, dich kennenzulernen! (= informal)
🇺🇸 Nice to get to know you!
🇩🇪 Es freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen. (= formal)
🇺🇸 Pleased to meet you.
🇩🇪 Freut mich! (= neutral)
🇺🇸 A pleasure!
Es freut mich auch! (= neutral)
🇺🇸 The pleasure is mine!
In the case that you’ve already exchanged some emails or phone calls with the person you’re about to meet, you may also say:
🇩🇪 Es freut mich, Sie endlich kennenzulernen! (= formal)
🇺🇸 What a pleasure to finally meet you!
Helpful Small Talk Ideas in German
Well done! Now that you’ve successfully introduced yourself in German, it’s time for some small talk.
Here are some ideas that will help you keep the conversation going:
A: Woher kommst du? (= informal) A: Woher kommen Sie? (= formal)
B: Aus Deutschland, und du / Sie? (= i. / f.)
A: Where are you from?
B: From Germany, and you?
A: Was machst du beruflich? (= i.) A: Was machen Sie beruflich? (= f.)
B: Ich bin Student / Architekt / Koch / Anwalt / Arzt / Lehrer / Techniker …
A: What do you do for a living?
B: I’m a student / an architect / a chef / a lawyer / a doctor / a teacher / an engineer …
A: Für welche Firma arbeitest du? (= i.) A: Für welche Firma arbeiten Sie? (= f.)
B: Ich arbeite für …
A: What company do you work for?
B: I work for …
A: Was machst du in Kalifornien? (= i.) A: Was machen Sie in Kalifornien? (= f.)
B: Ich bin hier auf Urlaub / wegen meiner Arbeit / für ein Semester / …
A: What are you doing in California?
B: I’m here on vacation / for my work / for a semester / …
Well observed! The verb always ends on “-st” when you use “Du.” And it’s “-en” whenever “Sie” is the subject of your sentence.
Wow! Now you also know how to make successful small talk in German, and you’ve learned some important grammar rules.
Keep it up! Learning German is easier as it might seem!
If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of our other German lessons on this website.