One of the first lessons you will learn when learning a new language is how to introduce yourself. Self-introduction in German can be more complex than in English. In this article, I will explain how to introduce yourself in various situations based on my experience correctly.

Key takeaways

  1. In this article, I summarize the learnings I went through over the years I lived in Germany.
  2. German can be very complicated for foreigners when learning more about the language while living in Germany.
  3. First, I’d like to give you some standard greetings for everyday situations.
  4. Second, I will give examples of how to let your acquaintance know where you come from.
  5. You will also learn more about situations when you get asked what you are doing for a living.
  6. There are two everyday situations that I am covering here as well: Self-Introduction to your neighbors and introducing yourself in German at work.
  7. Last but not least, I am covering how you can introduce yourself when you are a student and how to introduce others.

When is self-introduction in German needed?

Self-introduction in Germany is needed in various situations. Meeting (new) friends or neighbors and introducing yourself in German to them is different than in a work environment. The latter one requires, most of the time, a more formal approach.

It is also advantageous to introduce yourself properly to a new person when going to the authorities, visiting a doctor, or something similar. But let me answer some questions before I dig deeper into specific situations for you.

Is there a structure for self-introduction in German?

There is not necessarily a specific structure required for self-introduction in Germany. I am using a combination of greeting, my name, where I am from, what I do for a living, and where I live. Some of my friends and colleagues use a shorter version, especially in a less professional-related situation.

Sometimes it can already be enough. Just use a standard greeting and your name. But more on that in one of the later paragraphs.

Essential greetings for self-introduction in German

There are some basic greetings for self-introduction in German that I would like to tell you about based on my own private and professional experience. Depending on the state or region you live in, local differences may be that locals heavily use.

While the local versions are less commonly used in professional environments, it’s always nice to know what those mean. Since I live in the southern parts of Germany, I am very much used to “Servus” or “Griaß God” after a few years.

Still, I hardly use those because I am not speaking the local dialect properly to continue my conversation in the same way.

Informal greetings

  • “Hallo” means “hello” in English

Informal locally colored greetings

  • “Moin” means good morning in some northern parts of Germany
  • “Tach” has the same meaning as the greeting “Guten Tag” in north-western parts of Germany
  • “Servus” is the informal greeting similar to “hello,” used in southern parts of Germany
  • “Griaß God” and “Griaß Eana” are the locally colored versions of saying “Grüß Gott” or “Grüße Sie” being used in the southern parts of Germany.

You can’t even find these regional or local expresions in German dictionaries such as Duden.

Self-Introduction in German greetings Griaß Eana Bayrisch Duden

Formal greetings

  • “Guten Tag” or “Grüß Gott“ (the latter one is used mainly in Southern Germany and Austria), meaning a formal “hello” or “good afternoon.”

Greetings based on daytime

  • “Guten Morgen”, meaning good morning in English
  • “Guten Tag” is used throughout the day, a way to say “hello” in a formal way in English
  • “Guten Abend” is only used in the evening, usually when it’s about to get dark or after 7 – 8 pm.

There is no suitable equivalent to “Good afternoon” in German. You usually say: “Guten Tag”.

When introducing myself in German, how do I say “where I’m from”?

From my experience, I can tell you that it’s not unusual to get asked where you are from. Germans usually ask that out of genuine curiosity. So if you want to be prepared for a situation when that question is coming up, let me help and tell you how to say where you are from.

If you want to mention where you are coming from during your self-introduction

  • “Ich komme aus (country)”
    which means “I come from (country)” in English.
    You can add your country or the country and city you are coming from.
  • In case you are adding your city, the sentence is slightly changed into
    “Ich komme aus (add your country) aus der Stadt (add the name of the city).
    The English equivalent would be: “I come from (country) from the city of (name of the city)”.

Germans usually have a pretty good geographical knowledge. Many will know about your country a bit more than just the name.

How do you say what you do in German when you introduce yourself?

As soon as the conversation get’s going, people will sooner or later ask you what you are doing for a living. If you still go to school, you can say

  • “Ich arbeite als (add your profession)”.
    That means “I work as (add your profession)” in English.

This reflects the basic information I was asked several times when talking to friends, colleagues, people I met, and neighbors. This leads me to another topic, introducing yourself in German to your neighbors.

Introducing yourself in German to your neighbors 

When it comes to self-introduction to neighbors, the situation is slightly different. I experienced that knocking on your neighbor’s door right after moving in is not very common. But it highly depends on your living situation.

Please don’t feel offended if your neighbors next door won’t do the same right away. You might always want to mind your neighbors’ privacy. Based on three situations, I’d like to explain the difference.

Self-introduction in German when living in larger apartment complexes

Living in an apartment complex can be anonymous, whereas rural areas can be less anonymous.

When I arrived in Germany, I lived in an apartment complex. Throughout the first weeks, I met several people that lived on the same floor. The only exchange was greeting each other by saying “Guten Tag” or “Hallo”.

After a month or so, when coming back from grocery shopping, I was asked who I was and where I came from for the first time. So I replied in the following way

  • “Guten Tag! Ich bin (put in your name). Ich komme aus (put in your country and city).”
    “Hello! I am (your name). I come from (country and city).”

If you want to be more precise about where you live within the complex during your self-introduction in Germany, you may add the floor of your apartment. You can add

  • “Ich wohne im (number of your floor) Stock).”
    “I am living on floor number …”

As a side note: In German, the ground floor is called “Erdgeschoß” and the first floor is called “erster Stock”. In the US and other countries, the ground floor is already the first floor, while the “erste Stock” is already the second floor. This might cause some confusion, so be careful with it.

Self-introduction in German when living in smaller apartment complexes

If you move to a smaller apartment house with only a few apartments, people may appreciate your introduction to German after a few days. You may either have a quick chat with people when you meet them in front of their apartment or hallway.

In situations like that, you can use a short version like

  • “Hallo! Ich bin (put in your name) und wohne im (number of your floor) Stock“.
    “Hello! I am (your name) and live on floor number X (number of your floor).”

Rural areas with single houses and your self-introduction in German

Self-introduction in a rural area in Germany might be very different from that. It can happen that you either get asked by some direct neighbors right on the day of moving in where you are coming from and who you are. Others may wait to see you, for example doing your chores in the garden, and ask you then.

It may also be helpful to go to your neighbors and introduce yourself in German as soon as you see them on the weekend in their garden or front of their house.

You may use a variation of the standard phrase and say

  • “Guten Tag, ich bin (put in your name). Ich bin kürzlich hier eingezogen und möchte mich kurz bei Ihnen vorstellen“.
    This means in English: “Hello, I am (put in your name). I recently moved here and would like to introduce myself to you”.

What I experienced, in general, is that people are warming up faster in rural areas, and the conversations can go more deeply soon after.

Self-introduction in German at work

The work environment can be more formal in Germany, depending on the company. From one of my neighbors who works in a marketing agency, I know they are less formal and use the informal “Du” right from the start.

In my company, it’s more common to use the formal “Sie” in German at the beginning until you get to know each other better. I switched to “Du” with my colleagues after a few weeks. I was asked whether it would be ok for me to use the informal “Du” with questions like

  • “Ist es in Ordnung, wenn wir uns dutzen?”
    In English: „is it ok to use the informal you?”

Here is one additional piece of advice: be mindful of hierarchy and age in Germany. For example, I am still using the “Sie” with my boss. It is common for older people to offer you the “Du” whereas you can offer younger ones the “Du” first.

A formal question you may use is

  • “Darf ich Ihnen das Du anbieten?”.
    This means in English, „may I offer using „Du“ to you?”

This is how you introduce yourself in German professionally

To introduce yourself in German professionally, you should stick to the most common form and say:

  • “Guten Tag! Ich freue mich, Sie kennenzulernen. Mein Name ist (put in your name).“
    This means, „Good day! I am happy to meet you. My name is (put in your name)”.
  • “Guten Tag! Darf ich mich bei Ihnen vorstellen? Ich heiße (put in your name).“
    This is the even more polite version of the phrase used above, meaning whether it would be ok to introduce yourself to your acquaintance or not.
    In English, this means “Good day! May I introduce myself? My name is (put in your name).”.

Introducing yourself in a German Business Meeting

Again, business meetings follow a different process. If there are new people in the room who haven’t met each other, a quick round of introduction is quite common. Your introduction could be similar to the following as an example:

  • Guten Tag zusammen! Ich freue mich, Sie alle kennenzulernen. Mein Name ist (put in your name). Ich arbeite als (put in your title) für (put in the company name) in der Abteilung (use the name of the department).
    The English equivalent for this kind of introduction would be:
    “Hello, all! I am happy to meet you. My name is (put in your name). I work as a (put in your title) with (add the name of the company) in the department (put in the department).”
  • Many also add the following phrases to the one above:
    “Ich arbeite seit (number of years) Jahren für (name of company). Davor habe ich (number of years) für (name of previous company) als (job title) gearbeitet.”
    “I work for (name of company) for (number of years) years. Before that, I worked for (number of years) years for (name of previous company) as a (job title).”

Self-introduction in German as a student

Self-introduction in German as a student can be slightly different depending on whether you are still attending school, studying at a university, or are in your apprenticeship.

  • “Ich bin Schüler” (meaning I am a “pupil/student”).
  •  “Ich bin Student und studiere (add your subject)”
    meaning “I am a student, and I am studying (add your subject)”) if you are studying at a university.
  • If you are still in your apprenticeship, the best way to respond is
    “Ich mache eine Ausbildung als (your subject matter)”.
    “I am doing my apprenticeship as a (your subject matter)”.

How to introduce others in German?

If you are in the situation to introduce others in German, you may use one of the following phrases:

Introduction in German of your siblings

  • “Das ist meine Schwester (put in her name)“
    “This is my sister (her name)”
  • “Das ist mein Bruder (put in his name)“
    “That’s my brother (his name)”
  • The plural versions for the two above are:
    “Das sind meine Schwestern (name of first sister) und (name of second sister)”
    “Das sind meine Brüder (name of first brother) and (name of second brother)”

    Or if you have mixed siblings, you have to use:
    “Das sind meine Geschwister (name of sister) und (name of brother)”

How to introduce your kids in German?

  • If you are a father or mother and you’d like to introduce your daughter or son, please use the following:
    Das ist meine/unsere Tochter (name of your daughter)”
    Das ist mein/unser Sohn (name of your son)”
    “mein/meine”
    is used if you if it’s only you meeting someone. If you are with your spouse, you should use “unser/unsere”.
  • If you have more than two kids, please use the following:
    Das sind meine/unsere Söhne (name of first son) und (name of second son)”
    Das sind meine/unsere Töchter (name of first daughter) und (name of second daughter)”.

    With two mixed kids, you may say:
    “Das ist meine/unsere Tochter (name of daughter) und mein/unser Sohn (name of son)”.

Parents introduction in German

  • “Das ist meine Mutter (put in your mothers name)“
  • “Das ist mein Vater (put in your father‘s name)“

How to introduce your friends in German?

  • „Das ist mein Freund (male)/meine Freundin (female) (put in his/her name)”
  • There is a more polite version of introducing a friend
    “Darf ich Dir meinen Freund/meine Freundin (put in his/her name) vorstellen?”

Introducing your superiors in German

  • A formal version of introducing your boss in a work environment would be:
    “Ich möchte Ihnen gerne meinen Chef, Herrn (put in his last name) vorstellen“. Or alternatively:
    “Ich möchte Ihnen gerne meine Chefin, Frau (put in her last name) vorstellen“.

Conclusion

Self-introduction in Germany can be challenging depending on the setting you have to introduce yourself or someone to an acquaintance. This wasn’t very clear initially, but I hope I can provide you with a good guideline with this article.


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WORKING IN GERMANY
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About the Author

Alex Z.

Alex works in product management and has been living in Germany for more than 12 years. He has been speaking German for more than 22 years. His passion is to help people, who want to live a good life in a German speaking country, to learn German super fast. Want to connect with him? Send him an email and he'll get in touch with you.

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