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German Measurement & Unit Words

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.

In this lesson we will look at German measurement and unit words. These words will be helpful if you travel to any German-speaking country and want to read science books or magazines.

Wir messen alles! (We measure everything!)

Sarah is a physics student who is is part of an exchange program with the university in Hamburg, Germany. She really loves science and engineering and wants to be able to read German text books.

Currently she wants to learn about the Masseinheiten (pronounced: MAHSS-ein-hight-en, 'units of measurement'). She need to know certain vocabulary to have technical conversation with her German counterparts.

She also needs to put an emphasis on the fact that Germany, like the majority of countries in the world, follows the Metrisches System (metric system), which is based on certain basic units of measurements.

Prefixes in Measuring

Let's start with some basic units, like the Meter (pronounced: 'MEH-tah') for 'length', the Gramm (pronounced: 'grumm') for 'mass', and the Liter (pronounced: 'LEE-tah') for 'volume'. Other measurements are found by multiplying or dividing by 10s. These other measurements are then expressed by a series of prefixes, shown in this table.

Prefix Pronunciation Change, in Relation
to the Basic Unit
Mega- MEH-gah 1,000,000 times larger
Kilo- KEE-low 1,000 times larger
Hekto- HEC-toe 100 times larger
Deka- DEH-kah 10 times larger
Dezi- DEH-tsee 10 times smaller
Zenti- TSEN-tee 100 times smaller
Milli- MIL-lee 1,000 times smaller
Mikro- MEE-crow 1,000,000 times smaller

Examples:

  • 1 Kilometer = 1000 Meter
  • 1 Dezimeter = 1/10 of a Meter
  • 1 Zentimeter = 1/100 of a Meter
  • 1 Megabyte = 1000000 Bytes
  • 1 Hektoliter = 100 Liter

Measuring Zeit (Time)

Vocabulary Pronunciation Translation
Zeit tsyet time
Minute mee-NOO-tah minute
Sekunde zay-KOON-dah second
Millisekunde MIL-li-zay-KOON-dah millisecond
Stunde SHTOON-dah hour
Tag tahg day
Woche WO-khe week
Monat MOE-naht month
Jahr yahr year
Jahrzehnt yahr-TSAYNT decade
Jahrhundert yahr-HOON-dert century
Jahrtausend yahr-TOW-zent millennium
  • Ich habe drei Wochen Urlaub. (I have three weeks of vacation.)
  • Ein Jahr hat 365 Tage. (A year has 365 days.)
  • 48 Stunden sind zwei Tage. (48 hours are two days.)

Measuring Gewicht (Weight)

Vocabulary Pronunciation Translation
Gewicht geh-WIKHT weight
Gramm grumm gram
Kilogramm KEE-low-grumm kilogram
Milligramm MI-LI-grumm milligram
Mikrogramm MEE-croe-grumm microgram
Zentner TSENT-nah centner (equals 50 kilograms)
Tonne TON-ne ton (equals 1000 kilogram)
  • Drei Zentner sind 150 Kilogramm. (3 centners (50 kilograms) is 150 kilograms.)
  • Ich wiege 70 Kilogramm. (I weigh 70 kilograms.)
  • Ich möchte bitte 500 Gramm Hackfleisch. (I would like 500 grams of hamburger meat, please.)

Measuring Länge (Length)

Vocabulary Pronunciation Translation
Länge LAI-ngah length
Entfernung ent-FAIR-noong distance
Kilometer kee-low-MAY-tah kilometer
Meter MAY-tah meter
Dezimeter DAY-tsee-may-tah decimeter
Zentimeter tsen-tee-MAY-tah centimeter
Millimeter mi-li-MAY-tah millimeter
Mikrometer MEE-croe-may-tah micrometer

Translation: I walk three kilometers to work.
walking

  • Ich gehe drei Kilometer zur Arbeit. (I walk three kilometers to work.)
  • Die Antenne ist einen Meter lang. (The antenna is one meter long.)
  • Er ist 2 Meter gross. (He is 2 meters tall.)

Measuring Fläche (Area)

Vocabulary Pronunciation Translation/Explanation
Fläche FLAI-khe area
Quadratmillimeter quah-DRAHT-mi-li-MAY-tah square millimeter
Quadratzentimeter quah-DRAHT-tsen-tee-MAY-tah square centimeter
Quadratdezimeter quah-DRAHT-day-tsee-may-tah square decimeter
Quadratmeter quah-DRAHT-may-tah square meter
Ar ahr are (equals 100 square meters)
Hektar HECK-tahr hectare (equals 10000 square meters)
Quadratkilometer quah-DRAHT-kee-low-MAY-tah square kilometer
  • Mein Haus hat eine Fläche von 200 Quadratmetern. (My house has an area of 200 square meters.)
  • Zehn Zentimeter mal zehn Zentimeter sind 100 Quadratzentimeter. (Ten centimeters by ten centimeters are 100 square centimeters.)
  • Mein Garten ist ein Hektar gross. (My garden is one hectare large.)

Example Conversation

Translation: Sarah attends a lecture.
University

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