20+ Funny and Embarrassing German Language Mistakes

Here are 20+ funny German language mistakes beginners have made while living abroad in Germany.

Some of these are pretty embarrassing!


If you want to sound like native German speaker, make sure to avoid these common misunderstandings. Some of these German language fails are common among beginners and some happen with even the most proficient German speakers.

Funny/Embarrassing German Language Mistakes

  1. We were knocking doors and this lady opens the door just a few inches and said she was moving, so I thought. Excitedly, I replied “Great! Can we help?!” She instantly slammed the door and my senior companion busted up laughing. Turns out she said she was changing her clothes, not moving. Sich umziehen, not umziehen. (Ben)
  2. A missionary wanted to say we are here to feed your soul. He wasn’t too sure of the word for feed, but he tried what he thought was right and ended up saying we are here to devour your soul. (Aaron)
  3. When I was still learning, I wanted to say “cross the street”. The word for cross is Kreutzen. But this word means cross as in crucifixion. The word for crossing the street is uberqueren. So I had been saying I wanted to crucify the street. I’m sure many a German had a chuckle about that. (Sara)
  4. Asking for a pastry at the bakery with churches on top. Should have been cherries. (Don)
  5. I was once in a member’s apartment and they were asking me about new investigators. I was telling them about a man we had met and they asked me what he did for work. The man was a Taxi Driver, so I said he was a Führer. Führen in German means “to drive,” so naturally I thought that Führer would be a driver. In German, Führer actually means “Leader” but since World War II, that word is only ever used to talk about Adolf Hitler. The members laughed their heads off as they sarcastically told me that the Führer died 70 years ago. The real word in German is Fahrer. I only made that mistake once… ha ha. (Bret)
  6. Telling new missionaries to ask for a “Kaiserschnitt” when the went in for a “Haarschnitt” (haircut). A Kaiserschnitt is a Caesarian section. (Jared)
  7. We were playing Pictionary at a member’s house, and the investigator we brought with us was drawing the word “Profie” which means “professional sports player.” She started drawing a tennis racket, and I thought it was a brush, so I yelled, “Brüste! Brüste!” Instead of “Bürste!” I’ll let you figure that one out. (Caitlin)
  8. I remember one of our Elders – Elder Whittaker, who accidentally used Sie (formal you) when referring to an ice cream. The members with him at dinner automatically called him on it, to which he quickly replied that with (brand – x, ice cream) it’s too good to just use Du, you needed to respect it with Sie, hahahaha. (Loggins)
  9. I told a little 8-year-old girl that Adam & Eve were the first two men on Earth, instead of people. The family didn’t tell me my mistake until the week before I left the area. They wanted to save me embarrassment. (Brian)
  10. My first eating appointment I called the meal a “Pfannkuchen” which is basically a pancake! But in Sachsen a “pfannkuchen” is a jelly doughnut! So I said! Uh yummy a “Pfannkuchen” And the lady was almost insulted! So I realized, I should rather ask what it is instead of mindlessly naming it! (Joerg)
  11. Some people say that Christ killed for our sins and not died for them. (Chris)
  12. Ich muss mich umziehen= I need to change my clothes. Ich muss umziehen= I need to move (IE: from one city to another). So an Elder thinks she is saying she is moving and the Elder offers to help….and the girl says yes….except she was not saying she is moving. (Daniel)
  13. A lady started yelling at us while going door to door during my first month. I felt like I needed to share my testimony and proceeded to speak. I know what I was trying to say, but apparently didn’t communicate it that well. She shared with my companion that I completely offended her and that I pretty much told her she was a sinner… (Justin)
  14. I told someone that because of Jesus Christ we couldn’t return to Heavenly Father. (Marsha)
  15. Part of one door approach included saying we want to feed your spirit. I got confused with feed vs feast and accidentally said something closer to ‘We are here to devour your soul’ Watch word pronunciation too. ‘Nacht’ means Night (like good night), but if you are too hard on the ch, it might sound like ‘Nackt’ which means naked. 🙂 (Levi)
  16. I told a member that her food was lecherlich, instead of lecher. One means good, one means bad. (Marlene)
  17. I once saw “Back to the Future” in German, where when Doc Brown, in the 50’s, is first shown the working Flux Capacitor he says “Es functioniert!” I mistakenly thought I could use that when it came to describing how well something I have works for making life easier. (Kerry)
  18. Pronunciation mistakes: Maedchen (girl) versus Menschen (people) “Wir moechten mit den jungen Maedchen sprechen” We want to talk with the young girls (oops!) Weak “ch” versus “sch” die Katholische Kirche (the Catholic Church) may sound like the Catholic cherry; Ich glaube an die Kirche (I believe in the Church) may sound like “I believe in the cherry” (Sean)
  19. The most horrendous was one of my district leaders, when we went on splits, when we were tracting, he would introduce me as his “Begliter”, which translates to companion, but means more like girlfriend. Another time after we had a meal at a members, someone asked how it was, The correct response would be “es hat Lecker geschmect” which means it was delicious, the same guy replied “es hat leckerlich geschmoken”. Leckerlich means ridiculous, and geschmoken is a conjugation of schmecken (to taste) that doesn’t even exist. The meal was ridiculous tasting, I guess. (Dennis)
  20. My two favorite language jokes were the ‘noch mehr’ and the ‘Kaiserschnitt.’ We’d tell new missionaries to say ‘noch mehr, bitte’ when they were full. It sounds enough like “nicht mehr,” so you could get them pretty easily. They’d get so stuffed! Also, the Kaiserschnitt was the ‘missionary style’ haircut. My German was pretty good going to the field, so I was wise to this one. We’d tell Golden missionaries that when you asked for a haircut, you asked for the Kaiserschnitt, as it was the style of the Kaisers of old to have it cut a certain way acceptable for missionary standards. Well, Kaiserschnitt is slang for C-Section…the hair stylists were always amused, too… (Scott)
  21. When I first arrived, I used to say ‘Ich weiB ein kleine Deutsch’ instead of ‘ein bission’ – so, I know a little German language. (Jeff)
  22. In my second area, the lady of the house was serving us dinner and told us what the food was but I didn’t quite understand. When we left my companion tells me “I can’t believe you ate that horse!” It wasn’t bad. (Ranee)
  23. When I first arrived, I used to say ‘Ich weiB ein kleine Deutsch’ instead of ‘ein bission’ – so, I know a little German language. (Jeff)
  24. Heisse Maronis…(Doug)
  25. The words for goodness and girlfriend are pronounced nearly the same. Learn the difference. When I first arrived I was in the south nearer Switzerland. The people there ‘sing’ when they talk with a lot of voice inflection. So, not having a companion who had been in the country long either, that is how we learned to talk. Then I was transferred to a different area with a companion who came from the area in Germany where the best pronounced German was spoken. She complained of the singing thing. And I could see by the contortions on her face that it pained her to hear me speak like that. So I had to unlearn. (Luva)
  26. A woman answered the door hiding behind it. My companion thought she said she was in the middle of moving (to a new home). He asked if we could help. (Ich bin gerade beim Umziehen!) it actually means “I’m changing my clothes right now!” Umziehen and such umziehen are very similar. (Shawn)
  27. All words with “umlauts” (ä,ü,ö) for instant “Ich möchte”. Americans said always “Ich mochte.” haha LINK. (Danny)
  28. I once misprounced “shießen”. I’ll leave it at that. There was an Elder who told an investigator that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood from “Johannes der Teufel”. Gotta work on that pronunciation there, Elder. 🙂 (Obi)
  29. Asking for a Kaiserschnitt in a barber shop. Oooops! (Kent)
  30. All new missionaries struggle to use “Du sprache” with children and young people and the children laugh at you if you “Sie” them! Very comical. (Edwin)
  31. A senior companion told his greenie to ask for a Kaiserschnitt on his first trip to the barber. (Tom)
  32. We didn’t say Gruss Gott, the normal greeting from the Germans. Just smile, if a old grandma says that she loves Hitler. (Jan)
  33. In the MTC, one of the elders was giving a lesson about chastity. He wanted to say that you can’t have any sexual experience before marriage (kein sexual Erlebnisse vor ehe) instead he said klein sexual Erlebnisse vor ehe, meaning you must have a little sexual experience before marriage. (Gabriela)

German Language Mistake Videos

Top 5 German Mistakes to Avoid

What an American accent in German sounds like

Intermediate German Grammar: Common Mistakes- Sie vs sie

3 thoughts on “20+ Funny and Embarrassing German Language Mistakes

  • Imagining it to be a charming and innocent saying, a fellow missionary said (aloud) about an older ward member: “Endlich kommt die alte Ziege,” or ‘finally here comes that old goat.’ … Yeah, she heard it.

  • My right-off-the-plane greenie, Elder B, ran into a bakery and said he wanted to purchase “Frosch Brot”. I am pretty sure he meant frisch. At least I hope he did…

  • We used to tell new missionaries that the best pastry in the bakery is a “davon.” They don’t want to sell you a “davon”, they want to sell you a “wovon”. “Wovons” are cheaper to make but “davons” are much better. The conversations sometime went like this:
    Missionary: Good morning, I would like a “davon”.
    Clerk: A “wovon”?
    Missionary: No, a “davon” please.
    Clerk: A “wovon”?
    Missionary(said with more enthusiasm and determination) : No, a “davon”!!!

    Which actually means:
    Missionary: I would like “one of those”.
    Clerk: “One of what”?
    Missionary: No, “one of those” please.
    Clerk:”One of what”?
    Missionary: No, “one of those”!!!

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