How to Introduce Yourself in German


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

โœ”๏ธ Make eye contact and get ready to shake hands.
โœ”๏ธ Start with a greeting like “Hallo,” “Guten Tag,” or “Guten Abend.”
โœ”๏ธ Tell them your name: “Ich bin Tom” or “Mein Name ist Olivia Jones.”

โŒ Donโ€™t kiss cheeks in a formal setting. Itโ€™s considered inappropriate.
โŒ Don’t ask new acquaintances how they are doing. That’s rather unusual. 
โŒ 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:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Guten Morgen!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Good morning!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Guten Tag!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Good day/afternoon!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Guten Abend!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 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 “GrรผรŸ Gott” instead of “Guten Tag” – whereas people from Switzerland are likely to use “Grรผezi.”

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:

A: Servus!
S: Hoi!

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:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich bin Sarah
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I’m Sarah

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich heiรŸe Bill
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I am Bill

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Mein Name ist Peter Jones
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 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:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Das ist Lisa, meine Schwester. (= neutral)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ That’s Lisa, my sister. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Darf ich dir meinen Freund vorstellen? (= informal)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ May I introduce my friend?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich mรถchte Ihnen gerne meinen Chef vorstellen. (= formal)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 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:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Schรถn, dich kennenzulernen! (= informal)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Nice to get to know you!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Es freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen. (= formal)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Pleased to meet you.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Freut mich! (= neutral)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ A pleasure!

Es freut mich auch! (= neutral)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 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:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Es freut mich, Sie endlich kennenzulernen! (= formal)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 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: Fรผr welche Firma arbeitest du? (= i.) A: Fรผr welche Firma arbeiten Sie? (= f.)
B: Ich arbeite fรผr …
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 / fรผr 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.

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Sandra Foessl

Sandra Foessl

Language lover and bookworm. Lives in Austria and has been teaching English, French and German for more than a decade.

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