Learning German and living in Berlin? Here is little list of vocabulary for you! It might help you to learn the words perfect for describing your day-to-day life in Berlin to your family and friends abroad. Let’s dive straight in…

1 – Die Hoffnung

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If you’re planning on living in Berlin, this word is a necessary one! Finding a place to live in the capital is not a piece of cake! One might go through several WG-Interviews or realise LOTS of people are also interested in this flat on Hermannstraße! Stay optimistic though, it will work out!

flexed biceps

* The hope

2 – Der Treffpunk

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“Let’s meet at the clock!” is a phrase you’re sure to hear if you live in Berlin. If you’re meeting someone around Alexanderplatz, it’s quite likely that you’re going to wait for them at the World-Clock… and it’s also quite likely that you will be in a tourist’s picture, don’t forget to smile! And of course… be on time!

* The meeting point

3 – Der Stil 

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If you live in Berlin, you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous pair of Dr. Martens “1460”, which was very popular in the 80’/90’s in alternative movements. They are still highly popular in the German capital. They go with everything and can be worn all year long, sehr praktisch

* The style

4 – Der Imbiss

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In Berlin, there are lots of places to buy a meal on the go if you don’t have time to sit/wait at a restaurant; you can go to an Imbiss (lokal). One of the famous Berlin snacks is the legendary Currywurst! Served with fries (or without), the sausage can be with or without skin (which is more traditional) or even without meat (for the pleasure of the vegan crowd). 

* The snack (bar)

5 – Der Sonnabend

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You didn’t have time to go grocery shopping this week and now it’s Saturday evening? Well, I hope you’re not too picky because there is a high chance that many shops won’t be available anymore! In general, if you have the chance to do your groceries before the weekend, you should. On Saturday, because of most people not working and supermarkets being closed on Sunday, it’s shopping day for the majority!

* The Saturday (but literally “Sunday-eve”)

6 – Die Frustrationstoleranz 

You’ll need a lot of this if you’re going to be able to cope with the postal system in Berlin! “But I was there all day!”… Naja, despite the German reputation for efficiency/organisation, it’s not always easy to get the parcel you ordered… your neighbour might have it, the post office, the shop nearby, the building next door… happy parcel-hunting!

* The frustration tolerance

7 – Die Vorfreude

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This is a very cool concept: the “before joy”. You’re very excited to finally stand in the line of the famous former Communist power plant which turned into an internationally known night club, Berghain… whether you get in or not! 

* The joy of anticipation

8 – Das Wortspiel

The Berlin Waste Management company (BSR) makes collecting rubbish a very “punny” experience; on every public bin (they are bright orange, it’s hard to miss them), there is a play on words! It’s a great way to learn German!

* The pun

9 – Die Schadenfreude

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Your friend is still a bit tipsy from your Saturday night out, and grabbed the mic at Mauerpark to join the giant Sunday karaoke… now they are “singing” 99 Luftballons in front of everyone… What you might feel is respect (they dared!) but also there’s a crueller part of you that might secretly enjoy them making a fool of themselves publicly!

* The malicious joy

10 – Der Hausgarten

Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport field of 386 hectares, became a public park in 2010. It’s now the perfect place for a long walk, a run, a barbecue, skating, kite-surfing, dancing, birthday celebration, etc. for the people living in Berlin.

* The home garden

11 –  Der Lebensretter

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It’s already past midnight and you need more [insert what’s needed]? There is a high chance the Späti in your street will have it. Everything from milk and lemonade, to beer and cigarettes, even condoms, can be purchased here. Short for Spätkauf, literally “late purchase”, Spätis are located all over the city and are open until very late. But crucially, you can’t find groceries here, so plan ahead for that!

 * The life saver

12 – Das Schnäppchen

Kein Bock auf IKEA furniture? Looking to protect the planet by reducing the amount of new clothes you’re buying? Berlin is your playground! There are so many opportunities to buy second hand (or “already loved”) clothes or furniture for a fraction of the price. With several Flohmärkte organised every weekend during the warmer months, to eBay Kleinanzeigen, and all the secondhand shops, there is a way to not have to buy anything new throughout the year! 

* The bargain

13 – Der Alltag

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As many bike-friendly cities, Berlin is unfortunately the target of many bike thieves. There is even an interactive map showing you where your cherished bike is the least safe. It’s hard to prevent a theft but big locks might be the best repellent, you can also register your bicycles. Having your bike stolen is always a heartbreaking situation, don’t hesitate to report it at the police station and to check online to see if your two-wheeler is not already on sale somewhere!

* The everyday

14 – Die Hassliebe

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It’s not always clean, it’s not always on time, it’s expensive, it’s smelly but you probably use it every day! The public transport company in Berlin might not be deemed the most competent, but one thing they excel at is self-deprecating humour. Their latest marketing feat: applying for UNESCO World Heritage status with a very ironic video.

* The love-hate relationship

15 – Die Demo

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In Berlin, people often take the streets for any cause that needs to be heard – be it anti-racism or climate change or gentrification. Often these gatherings involve lots of music and singing or shouting. You could be walking, cycling, roller-blading, standing on top of a float or even sitting on a Luftmatratze!

 * The demonstration

16 – Der Spielplatz

Following the events of 1989 in Berlin, most of its Mauer was removed. Some parts are still up through the city, though. Some are really famous, like the East-Side Gallery painted by a collective of artists, it’s a “must-see” when you’re visiting Berlin. Some other parts are left to the people to create their own art, like the one section in… Mauerpark!

* The playground

17 – Die Verlegenheit

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If you’re not used to being around people wearing only your birthday suit, you might need to go a few times before feeling comfortable in big textilfrei spa areas such as Vabali and Liquidrom. Don’t worry though, in most areas outside of the saunas you have to wear a robe. Some offices in Berlin even have a schedule so colleagues can avoid going at the same time but if you aren’t too bothered, go ahead! 

* The embarrassment

18 – Das Gemüse

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Alongside Currywurst, the Döner is also very popular in Berlin. As to which one is the best, I will leave the answer up to you! But for a few years, one place has managed to gain hyped popularity: Mustafa Gemüse Kebap. A mix of fresh and marinated veggies, together with crumbled fresh cheese in good bread, makes for a very tasty experience indeed! Check all the different locations in the city, so you don’t end up queuing for ages at the one in Mehringdamm.

 * The vegetable

19 – Der Raser

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If you live around Prenzlauer Berg, you have been overtaken by a little kid on their Laufrad on the pavement at least once! They are so quick and usually ahead of their parents, so that you might sometimes wonder if they are out all alone! Have you seen how obediently they stop at crossings, though?

* The road hog

20 – Die Straßenecke

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A Kneipe is a typical place in Berlin. It’s an old bar (or dive, if you prefer), often on a street corner, die Eckkneipe, that serves cold beers and where you can watch sports. They’re usually furnished with old dark wood and the walls are covered decorated with lots of picture frames.

* The street corner

Bonus: Der Wecker

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Even though there are some time slots written to indicate when it’s allowed to throw out your empty glass bottles, some people just like to ignore it and get rid of their bottles really early in the morning… thanks, I wanted to get up at 6am anyway!

* The alarm clock

Want to learn more German?

Managing life in a new city can be daunting, but we’re here to help! Click here for our YouTube channel, where you can find tons of videos to prepare you for different scenarios that require German. From grammar explanations, to useful German sentences for when you go to the supermarket, the post office or your Anmeldung appointment, all the way through to trivia quizzes, we’ve got you covered.

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