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Diphthongs and consonant combinations

This lesson contains topics:

  1. Diphthongs in German language
  2. Consonant combinations in German

The goal of this lesson is to learn the pronunciations of diphthongs and constant combinations in the German language. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. Correctly pronounce the combinations of letters EI, IE, AU and EU in German words.
  2. Correctly pronounce the combinations of tsch, sch, ch, sp and st in German words.

Also in this lesson, vocabulary is not important to learn. Just memorize these combinations and their pronunciation.


Diphthongs in German language

Diphthongs is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. In German language diphthongs are:

EI, IE, AU and EU.


Combination of German letters e and i always produces sound similar to English word “eye”. For example,

Ei (egg),

Ein (one),

Eingang (entrance),

Arbeit (work).


Combination of German letters i and e produces sound similar to English letter “e” in the word ske. For example,

Dieb (thief),

Viel (many),

Sieben (seven).


Combination of German letters a and u produces sound similar to “ow” in English word cow or now. For example,

Bau (construction/structure),

Grau (gray),

Blau (blue),

Schau (show).


Combination of German letters e and u produces sound similar to “oy” in English word boy or joy.

Euro (Euro)

Europa (Europe)

Neu (new)

Treu (faithful)


Same is the case for äu because a with umlaut produces sound similar to German word e.

Geräusch (noise)

Fräulein (young lady)

Räuber (robber)

Video summery of the topic German diphthongs


Consonant combinations in German

There are also some consonant combinations in German language. For English speakers these combinations are not difficult to learn. These combinations are:

tsch, sch, ch, sp and st.


The combination of words Tsch always produces sound similar to “ch” in English word which or switch. For example,

Sketsch (sketch),

Deutsch (German),

Deutschland (Germany),

Dolmetscher (interpreter).


The combination of word sch gives sound of “sh” in English word show. For example,

Schraube (screw),

Schraubendreher (screwdriver),

Schnee (snow),

Tisch (table),

Tischler (carpenter).


When the letter S comes before P in beginning of a word or a syllable, it gives sould similar to above discussed German combination sch. For example,

Sport (sport),

Spanien (spain),

Spät (late),

Spaß (fun).


Similarly when S comes before t in the beginning of a word or a syllable, it gives sound of combination “sch”.

Start (start),

Stadt (city),

Student (student),

Straße (steet / road).


In normal conditions combination of c and h produces same sound as combination of “sch”. For example:

Ich (I), Ich bin Doktor Robert (I am Doctor Robert),

Chemie (chemistry).

Combination of ch after a vowel

When combination of c and h comes after a vowel it produces some what similar sound of “ck” in English word sick. Vowels in German are same letters as in English i.e. a, e, i, o, and u. For example:

Bauch (belly),

Rauch (smoke),

Buch (book),

Hoch (high).


Combination of ch before s gives the sound of x. For example:

Fuchs (fox),

Wuchs (growth),

Wachs (wax).


The combination of ion is not a consonant, but it gives a special sound that's why it's included in this chapter.

The combination of ion give sound of “eon” in the English word Neon. Meanings of the following words are same as their English counterparts.












For more clarity on the topic please watch the following video.



"Mein Auto" gets complex according to the topics.

Hallo (hello)

Hallo (hello)

Ist das Auto ein Taxi? (Is this car a taxi?)

Nein, das ist mein Privatauto. (No, this is my private car.)

Warum ist das gelb? (Why is this yellow?)

Das ist grün nicht gelb. (This is green, not yellow.)

Ja, aber die Reifen sind schwarz. (Yes, but the tires are black.)

Die Reifen sind immer schwarz. (Tires are always black.)

Mein Auto ist schwarz und die Reifen sind weiß. (My car is black and tires are white.)

Unglaublich. (Unbelievable.)

Wortschatz (Vocabulary)

ein (a/an indefinite article)

warum (why)

gelb (yellow), grün (green), schwarz (black), weiß (white)

nicht (not)

die Reifen (the tires, German nouns are always capitalized. There is no distinction between proper and improper nouns.)

die (the / "die" is a definite article, used with all plural nouns and singular feminine nouns. German nouns have three genders i.e. masculine, feminine and neuter, and three definite articles for these three genders )

ist (is), sind (are)