A 'v' in the beginning of a word can be pronounced in one of two ways:

  • /f/: Vater, verrückt, vier, Vogel.
  • /v/: Vanille, Verb, Villa, Vokal, vulgär.

My question: Is there a way to know how a word should be pronounced without looking it up?

Bonus question: Wiktionary has a lot of ver-words transcribed with /v/, e.g. verleben, vergammelt, vernetzen. Are they pronounced like that in some dialect?

  • 2
    I couldn't come up with a /f/-word that begins in "vu" or "vi" (but not in "vie"), but would love to have such an example if there is one.
    – Tim
    Jun 25, 2011 at 21:22
  • 3
    vulgär, Vulkan, both /v/ (foreign origin). Words beginning with "vi" only are all of foreign origin and pronounced /v/. Words beginning with "vie" are most likely of Germanic origin, vier, Vieh, viel.
    – teylyn
    Jun 25, 2011 at 23:46
  • Many Bavarians pronounce all of the vs as /f/. Some (like me) do it for comedic effect. ‘Oh, das sind schöne Blumen, ich hol mal eine *Fase’ works like a charm in giving people confused looks.
    – Jan
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:48

3 Answers 3


In most cases (and true for your examples):

  • Germanic words are pronounced /f/.
  • Loan-words (especially Latin) are pronounced /v/.

In particular, true German words starting with "ver-" are pronounced /f/, but not "Verdikt", say.

  • 9
    True German words starting with "ver-" are pronounced /f/, not /v/.
    – teylyn
    Jun 25, 2011 at 23:47
  • I think this is another example of a difference most people wouldn't notice. At least for myself I can say I've never noticed that "Vater" and "Vanille" start with a different sound. It's much the same as the different "S"s, I think.
    – ladybug
    Jun 27, 2011 at 8:50

The letter V is pronounced /f/ except for words of foreign origin.

Vanille, Verb, Villa, Vulgär, Vulkan, Vase


I never heard a German dialect that uses /v/ for words like ver(-)gammelt. I have lived in the west and north of Germany and in Berlin.

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