I've searched the forum and found this question, but the list there is not very good for general purposes, I think. It's based on newspapers as far as I could tell and is thus irrevocably slanted towards politics and current affairs. It also contains lots of proper nouns, acronyms, and in many cases simply the first letter of a name (like "E.").

I was wondering if anyone is familiar with a list of the most useful German words (maybe a list of the most useful nouns, most useful verbs, most useful adjectives, etc.)? It doesn't have to be as large as 10,000, I think 1,000 or even 100 for each category would be fantastic!

  • How do you measure "most useful"? You're asking for too much and for "too wide". Sorry but I'm voting to close.
    – Alenanno
    Feb 25, 2012 at 12:23

3 Answers 3


Have a look at:

LANGENSCHEIDT - Basic German Vocabulary
A Learner’s Dictionary divided into subject categories with example sentences

You'll like it.


There is plenty of those lists and dictionaries. The most common name for them in German is either Grundwortschatz or Basiswortschatz ("basic vocabulary"). You can just google these words to find the lists or (if you use Amazon) to look for appropriate books. Should you start with online sources, I would recommend this Wikipedia page as initial reading.

If you are longing for longer lists then you can look at the lists for German, English, French and Dutch of different length provided by the project "Wortschatz" from Leipzig University.

Once I was looking for the words from modern usage I came across the following webpage. The author just used TV-subtitles that are publicly available and performed the analysis of word usage there. Despite some mistakes in OCR, these lists are perfect source of the most commonly used colloquial and spoken expressions.

  • Thank you! I especially like the TV-subtitles one. I'll take a look once it's back up online (he's moving hosts)
    – Gal
    Feb 26, 2012 at 0:42
  • @Gal I have these lists on my hard drive and can mail them to you if you don't want to wait. Feb 26, 2012 at 7:36
  • send me a message with your email on twitter @hermitdave or www.facebook.com/hermitdave and i will email them to you. This is the creator of the subtitle based word lists - Hermit Dave Feb 26, 2012 at 9:22

Here's the best German frequency list and it contains also headwords without superfluous derivatives.

  • Best in what aspect? May 4, 2012 at 20:22

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