Do You Speak German? 2 Ways To Ask & 16 Ways to Answer This Question

Do you speak German? You’ll surely run into this question when you start learning German. But do you know how to answer it? Or ask it?

No worries, in this blog post, you’ll learn both how to ask and answer this question! And by the way, you can also check Easy German’s video on how to ask this question for other languages, not just German:

Let’s start with stating the question, and we’ll give you 16 possible answers!

1. How to ask do you speak German in German?

To the point: there are only two ways to directly ask this question in German.

You can ask ‘Do you speak German?’ in a formal and in an informal way, and of course, all of this depends on the situation you’re in.

Germans often use formal address the first time when you meet them up until the point where they are invited to use informal – so called ‘duzen‘ version of the language. Pay attention to this because using the wrong form can be seen as disrespectful or overly familiar – which is over the bounds in most German-speaking countries.

Truth be told, asking this question in a formal or an informal way affects not just this phrase but also the entire German conversation. It sets the tone for later German verb conjugations and the German pronouns used.

Formal version: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The formal version to ask someone whether they speak German is: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

As you can see, the formal way of asking this question contains the formal ‘Sie‘ form and uses ‘sprechen‘ verb in third-person plural.

We advise you to use this version with strangers, people you meet for the first time, elders, or later in professional settings. Like when you’re doing some German business.

Informal version: Sprichst du Deutsch?

The informal way of asking the same question is: Sprichst du Deutsch?

The informal way uses the ‘duzen‘ version, and the third-person singular form of ‘sprechen‘ changes to ‘sprichst‘, so to second-person singular.

To have effortless conversations (pun intended on this website!), it’s best to use this way of asking with friends, family or younger people.

do you speak german mosaic with red, black and yellow colors

2. Learn how to answer: I speak German

When you’re confident enough, you can immediately answer: I speak German!

But there are different levels in German – maybe you want to know how to pass the Goethe exam -, so you can answer in at least 8 ways. Here they are!

Basic affirmative: “Ja, ich spreche Deutsch.”

Use this in most situations. It’s straightforward and good for casual or formal settings. Perfect for introductions in German or when someone asks if you speak German.

Anna: Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Deutsch? (Excuse me, do you speak German?)
Max: Ja, ich spreche Deutsch. (Yes, I speak German.)

Confident: “Ich spreche fließend Deutsch.”

Use when you’re highly proficient. Appropriate in job interviews in German, language exchanges, or when offering translation services. Shows you can handle complex conversations.

Lukas: Wie gut beherrschst du die deutsche Sprache? (How well do you know the German language?)
Emma: Ich spreche fließend Deutsch. (I speak German fluently.)

Modest: “Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch.”

Ideal for beginners or those being humble. Use in informal settings or when you want to set realistic expectations about your language skills. Good for tourist situations.

Sophie: Kannst du dich auf Deutsch unterhalten? (Can you converse in German?)
Tim: Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch. (I speak a little German.)

Intermediate level: “Ich kann mich auf Deutsch verständigen.”

Use this when you’re comfortable with everyday conversations but not fluent. Use in workplaces or social situations where you’ll need to communicate in German.

Felix: Wie kommst du in Deutschland mit der Sprache zurecht? (How are you managing with the language in Germany?)
Laura: Ich kann mich auf Deutsch verständigen. (I can communicate in German.)

Learning: “Ich lerne gerade Deutsch.”

Use when you’re actively studying German. Great for language exchange meetups, classes, or when meeting German speakers who might help you practice.

Nina: Sprichst du schon Deutsch? (Do you already speak German?)
David: Ich lerne gerade Deutsch. (I’m currently learning German.)

Native speaker: “Deutsch ist meine Muttersprache.”

Use when German is your first language. Appropriate in formal settings like job applications or when your language proficiency is an important information.

Jonas: Woher kannst du so gut Deutsch? (How come you speak German so well?)
Lena: Deutsch ist meine Muttersprache. (German is my native language.)

Advanced but not perfect: “Ich spreche gut Deutsch, aber nicht perfekt.”

Use when you’re highly proficient but want to be humble and say there’s room for improvement. It’s good in professional settings or academic environments where precision matters.

Marie: Wie würdest du deine Deutschkenntnisse einschätzen? (How would you rate your German skills?)
Paul: Ich spreche gut Deutsch, aber nicht perfekt. (I speak German well, but not perfectly.)

Simple and direct: “Ja, das tue ich.”

Use this brief response in conversations or when you’ve already had context about speaking German.

Clara: Du kannst Deutsch, oder? (You can speak German, right?)
Thomas: Ja, das tue ich. (Yes, I do.)

3. Learn how to answer: I don’t speak German

If you’ve just started your language learning journey in Germany, you’ll probably want to answer: I don’t speak German.

There are levels to not-speaking, too, so we’ll go from the absolute, simple negative to not speaking, but wanting to.

Simple negative: “Nein, ich spreche kein Deutsch.”

Use this straightforward response in most situations. It’s clear and polite, good for casual and formal events.

Ideal when you need to quickly communicate your lack of German skills.

Lisa: Können Sie Deutsch sprechen? (Can you speak German?)
Mark: Nein, ich spreche kein Deutsch. (No, I don’t speak German.)

Apologetic: “Tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch.”

Use this phrase when you want to express regret for not being able to communicate in German.

It’s useful in service situations or when someone has approached you expecting some good old German communication…

Tobias: Entschuldigung, könnten Sie mir auf Deutsch helfen? (Excuse me, could you help me in German?)
Sarah: Tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch. (Sorry, I don’t speak German.)

Emphasizing lack of ability: “Ich kann leider kein Deutsch.”

Use this one to make it clear that communication in German isn’t possible because you lack the ability to speak this language.

Julia: Verstehst du, was hier geschrieben steht? (Do you understand what’s written here?)
Ben: Ich kann leider kein Deutsch. (Unfortunately, I can’t speak German.)

Very limited knowledge: “Ich spreche nur ein paar Worte Deutsch.”

Use this when you know some basic German words or phrases but can’t hold a conversation.

It’s helpful in tourist situations or when you want to acknowledge your effort to learn while setting realistic expectations.

Hannah: Wie gut ist dein Deutsch? (How good is your German?)
Leon: Ich spreche nur ein paar Worte Deutsch. (I only speak a few words of German.)

Explaining your language: “Ich spreche nur Englisch.”

This phrase is useful when you want to clarify which language you do speak.

It’s helpful in international settings or when you’re in a German-speaking country for an extended period but you only speak English.

Mia: Sprichst du Deutsch oder eine andere Sprache? (Do you speak German or another language?)
Noah: Ich spreche nur Englisch. (I only speak English.)

Polite request for English: “Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Englisch?”

Use this when you need to switch the conversation to English. Ideal for interactions in shops, restaurants, or with officials.

Finn: Guten Tag, wie kann ich Ihnen helfen? (Good day, how can I help you?)
Emily: Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Englisch? (Excuse me, do you speak English?)

Direct and simple: “Nein, das tue ich nicht.”

This short and direct response is good for casual conversations or when the context about speaking German is already made.

It doesn’t leave room for misunderstanding.

Lara: Du sprichst doch Deutsch, oder? (You do speak German, don’t you?)
Alex: Nein, das tue ich nicht. (No, I don’t.)

Expressing a wish to learn: “Ich spreche kein Deutsch, aber ich möchte es lernen.”

Use this phrase when you want to show interest in the language despite not speaking it. It’s great for opening up conversations about language learning.

Simon: Wie lange lernst du schon Deutsch? (How long have you been learning German?)
Emma: Ich spreche kein Deutsch, aber ich möchte es lernen. (I don’t speak German, but I’d like to learn.)

4. Learn these questions and answer with full German sentences with Conversation Based Chunking

Lucky for you, you don’t even have to memorize these sentences word by word. Instead, we offer you a FREE German Conversation Based Chunking Guide!

In this guide, we’ll teach you what lexical chunks are, and how you can use them to come up with complex German sentences. The only thing you have to do is sign up for our email list, and we’ll send you the rest: an essential German chunking list, the best resources to learn German, and tons of practice exercises!

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