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Similarities between German and English language

Reasons why they are alike

By Allwyn Roman WaghelaPublished 13 days ago 2 min read

While German and English are two distinct languages, they share several similarities due to their common linguistic heritage. Here are some reasons why they are alike:

Linguistic History:

  • Both German and English belong to the West Germanic language family. They evolved from an older version of Germanic, which explains their shared features.
  • Throughout their history, both languages have gone through Old, Middle, and New/Modern periods. These periods roughly coincide in time, allowing them to develop independently before written texts emerged.
  • Old German and Old English are nearly indecipherable to modern speakers. However, aspects of German were more prevalent in Old English, such as verb endings (-en), noun and adjective cases, and overall syntax.
  • Over time, Middle German and Middle English became more similar to their modern forms. Despite differences, they still share some linguistic features.


Old German: “Pho ende uuodan uuorun zi holza”

Middle German: “Mîn herze und mîn lîp diu wellent scheiden”

Modern German: “My heart and my lips want to part”

Old English: “Uren Fader þat art in heofnas”

Middle English: “Our Fadir that art in heuenes”

Modern English: “Our Father who art/are in heaven”

Lingua Franca:

  • German once served as a lingua franca (common language) in Central Europe. The Holy Roman Empire comprised German federations and controlled a large part of Central Europe.
  • As a result, many people in Europe spoke a German dialect to some extent. Even today, German remains a minority language in certain areas influenced by its historical prominence.
  • Similarly, English has become a global lingua franca due to Britain’s colonial influence and the United States’ economic and military power.

Cognates and Loanwords:

  • German and English share numerous cognates—words that are either identical or sound similar in both languages.
  • Lexical borrowing has also occurred, with English loanwords assimilated into German and vice versa.
  • This symbiotic relationship contributes to their linguistic similarities.

What are some common German-English cognates?

German and English share several cognates—words that have the same root and look and sound similar in both languages. These true cognates often have similar definitions. Here are some common German-English cognates listed alphabetically:

Accent: Akzent

Affair: Affäre

Alone: allein

Apple: Apfel

Athlete: Athlet

Baby: Baby

Banana: Banane

Battery: Batterie

Blue: blau

Book: Buch

Cat: Katze

Check (banking): Scheck

Coffee: Kaffee

Cow: Kuh

Crown: Krone

Dance: Tanz

Defect: Defekt

Diamond: Diamant

Doctor: Doktor

Drink: trinken

Effective: effektiv

Elbow: Ellenbogen

Energy: Energie

Espresso: Espresso

Exact: exakt

Fabulous: fabulös

False: falsch

Fever: Fieber

Foot: Fuß

Friend: Freund/ Freundin

Garden: Garten

Glass: Glas

Grandfather: Großvater

Grey: grau

Guest: Gast

Hair: Haar

Hammer: hämmern

Head: Haupt

Holy: heilig

Hotel: Hotel

Ice: Eis

Immune: immun

Influence: Einfluss

Insect: Insekt

Intense/Intensive: intensiv

Jazz: Jazz

Jet (plane): Jet

Jewel: Juwel

Juggle: jonglieren

Justice: Justiz

Remember that while cognates can be helpful, there are also false cognates—words that look similar but have different meanings. For instance, the German word “bald” means “soon,” but it resembles the English word for “hairless.” So, it’s essential to be aware of both true and false cognates when learning a language!

In summary, while German and English have distinct characteristics, their intertwined linguistic history and shared features make them surprisingly similar! 🌟


About the Creator

Allwyn Roman Waghela

I am a professional blogger, writing about topics such as travel, food, and lifestyle thus, showcasing my creativity and communication skills.





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