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German Days of the Week

Instructor
Jens Bargmann

Jens is a native German and has taught adults both in Germany and in the United States. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy/Ethics.

Expert Contributor
Sasha Blakeley

Sasha Blakeley has a Bachelor's in English Literature from McGill University and a TEFL certification. She has been teaching English in Canada and Taiwan for seven years.

In this lesson we will learn about the seven days of the week in German, and how to pronounce them. This is a basic lesson needed to work with any calendar in German, to make appointments etc. Updated: 01/27/2021

Wrong Day!

Imagine your boss has asked you to schedule an on-line video conference call with your business partners in Germany on the following Tuesday. When that day came, everyone was in the conference room and ready to go, but the Germans weren't online.

As it turned out, when you scheduled the appointment with them, you had confused Dienstag and Donnerstag.

Translation: Is today Tuesday or Thursday?
Meeting

To prevent that from happening again, let's make sure that we know all the Wochentage ('days of the week') really well.

German Days of the Week Vocabulary

Day of the Week Pronunciation Translation
Sonntag ZONN-tahg Sunday
Montag MOHN-tahg Monday
Dienstag DEEN-stahg Tuesday
Mittwoch MITT-wokh Wednesday
Donnerstag DONN-nahs-tahg Thursday
Freitag FRIY-tahg Friday
Sonnabend
or Samstag
ZONN-ah-bend
or ZUMM-stahg
Saturday
  • Ich gehe am Sonntag um 10 Uhr zur Kirche. (I go to church on Sunday at 10 a.m.)
  • Am Montag beginnt die Arbeit wieder. (On Monday work starts again.)
  • Am Dienstag wird es kalt. (On Tuesday it will be cold.)
  • Wo wirst Du am Freitag sein? (Where will you be on Friday?)
  • Ich habe Urlaub von Mittwoch bis Sonnabend. (I will be on vacation from Wednesday to Saturday.)

The Meaning of the Weekdays

Most of these names are very old. In fact, they are so old that they reflect the names of pagan gods from the time before the Christianization of Germany and England.

The Anglo-Saxon Saint Boniface was a leading person in bringing Christianity to the Germans in the 8th century. Some of those pre-Christian names are more visible in the English names of the weekdays.

  • Sonntag (Sunday) goes back to the pagan Germanic sun goddess Sunna
  • Montag (Monday) was the day of the moon god Mani, brother of Sunna.
  • Dienstag (Tuesday) was the day of the Roman god of war, Mars, whose Germanic name was Tyr or Tiu.
  • Mittwoch denotes Mitte der Woche (middle of the week). This day was connected to the pagan god Wotan, closer to the English Wednesday.
  • Donnerstag goes back to the Germanic god Donar, also called Thor, which sounds similar to Thursday.
  • Freitag (Friday) takes its name from Freya, the pagan goddess of spring, beauty, and love.
  • Sonnabend is the eve (abend) before Sonntag (Sunday). The alternate term Samstag is connected to the Jewish Sabbath, whereas the English Saturday shows the connection to the Roman god Saturn.

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Additional Activities

Days of the Week: More Practice

This lesson taught you how to talk about the days of the week in German. The following activities will give you opportunities to explore this concept further and practice what you have learned.

Quiz Yourself

How well can you remember what you learned in this lesson? Try writing down all of the days of the week in German from memory. If you are struggling, consider making flashcards that have the German word on one side and the meaning of the word on the other. For instance, a flashcard might say ''this name comes from the German for 'middle of the week'.'' Return to this lesson if you get stuck.

Dialogue

Another great way to practice what you have learned in this lesson is to practice saying it out loud. Try writing a short dialogue between two people that incorporates several days of the week into its vocabulary, just like the example conversation in this lesson. Practice saying this dialogue with a friend or family member to improve your understanding and your German pronunciation.

Linguistic Deep Dive

You may have noticed that there are a lot of similarities between the English names of days of the week and the German ones. If you are interested in etymology, see if you can trace back the origins of the English and German days of the week. Did these languages ever use the same words? What earlier languages do English and German get their days of the week vocabulary from? Create a chart showing your findings.

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