I am waiting a call from a German native speaker and I'd like to tell him, that even though I can speak German relatively okay, I'd rather speak English as it's easier.

Ich bevorzuge Englisch sprechen. Obwohl ich gute Deutsch spreche.

I don't know why but it feels more like it should be spricht rather than spreche but I am not sure.

Two questions please:

  • Is it grammatically correct ?
  • Is it polite ? in the sense I am not being rude like (I don't want to talk German only English!) it would feel to me a bit aggressive.
  • 24
    Actually telling this in broken German might bring the point over better ;-) Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 9:20
  • @PaŭloEbermann I like to be accurate :) Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 9:21
  • Haha I just now understood what you meant ;) Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 15:08
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    @TonyTannous Your German is so far clearly and intelligible and you will be normally understood (and nobody is bothered), but some parts of it contains still too much foreign grammar. It is not a problem because Germans autocorrect it in their head, but "good" from a German perspective is the second highest grade and some Germans are quite demanding :o) Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 21:03
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    @TonyTannous I suggest this translated article. The reason is that when both Germans and Americans meet, they often think they are very similar, but in fact they have a huge potential for misunderstandings. Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 21:18

3 Answers 3


Your German quote is not quite accurate, it should look this way:

Ich bevorzuge es, Englisch zu sprechen. Obwohl ich gut Deutsch spreche.

But this doesn't fit very well, it's rather impolite. I would propose:

[Ich kann zwar einigermaßen gut Deutsch, aber] würde es Ihnen etwas ausmachen, wenn ich Englisch rede?


[Ich kann zwar einigermaßen gut Deutsch, aber] hätten Sie etwas dagegen, wenn ich Englisch spreche?

  • [...] wenn ich Englisch spreche? sounds a little odd, unless you expect the conversation to be bilingual - you speaking English, the other speaking German. I'd put it as [...] wenn wir Englisch sprechen? Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 16:18
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    @Raketenolli: ich is more polite because the German isn't asked to speak English. Many Germans can understand English quite well, but have a problem in talking, would consider it unreasonable (Zumutung).
    – Pollitzer
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:12

I'd rather say

Ich bevorzuge Englisch zu sprechen, obwohl ich gut Deutsch spreche.

This seems to be polite as a statement, however usually questions give the impression to be even more kind. One suggestion:

Würde es Sie stören, das Gespräch auf Englisch zu führen?

Usually you can expect a "Nein" as an answer and you're done.


The way I do it:

Können wir liebe Englisch sprechen, bitte? Ist leichter für mich.

That might have some mistakes, but as Paulo pointed out, that probably acts in my favor. The other thing that helps is to say the above a bit on the slow, tentative side. The other person will want the conversation to go quicker and if s/he is comfortable in English, will immediately switch.

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