Difficulties with learning German

What are some of the problems when it comes to learning German?
German is known for being a difficult language. We are going to explain some of the challenges. Cheer up! If it were easy, we'd all speak it already.

Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache
German language, difficult language
Difficulties of German language



  • Even though there are plenty of words from Latin, most words have a German origin and it is not easy to guess their meaning. Generally, Latin words are learned more than the Germanic ones.
  • Some every-day words are similar to English ones (Ex. Haus House, kann can).
  • Technical vocabulary is very difficult, not being similar to English.
  • German is a very rich language that allows for the expression of ideas and concepts without much confusion. That is why German is the language of philosophers.
  • A student who is starting to learn German, will have a really hard time finding the meaning of words in a dictionary. Certain words are separable, others appear with endings that have to be taken off, and, often, 2 or more words are combined to make just one word, without it appearing as that word in the dictionary.



  • Verbs are conjugated in a way that is much more complicated than in English. There are more verb tenses and they are more difficult to form; the irregular verbs are similar to the ones in English.
  • Adjectives and pronouns are declined (If you'd like a general overview of this, click on this link: German declension).
  • Nouns are declined (they are not in English). Nouns have 2 types of declensions: The standard one applicable to 95% of nouns and the N-Deklination (the one that creates a lot of confusion).
  • The construction of the plural is very complex (not so in English).
  • There are 3 different genders. There are a few rules for determining the gender of masculine, feminine and neuter. But, very often, you have to memorize each word's gender.
  • The word order in the sentence is very important. This order is changed by the use of subordinate conjunction or if it is an interrogative sentence, etc.
  • The use of prepositions is difficult. Each preposition either corresponds to one or two cases which must be memorized. A verb can be accompanied by a preposition to complete the meaning. In most cases, the preposition cannot be guessed very easily and you will also have to memorize it.
  • Negation is more difficult than in English (particles "doch" and "kein").
  • For this indirect style, Konjunktiv I is used and it is a bit difficult to relate to English.
  • Konjunktiv II is similar to English's would, could, should, etc.
  • The passive voice's structure is similar to that of English.
  • Expressing the date (using ordinal numbers that are declined) is rather complex.



  • German words have pronunciation rules that are very clear in comparison to English.


  • In general, Germans speak English quite well and, out of courtesy, they often will speak to you in English if they see that you are foreigner and can't speak German perfectly. This is a disadvantage for practicing German. Interesting, right?