What are consonant clusters

Directory: German / Doubtful cases of phoneme-grapheme assignment / consonants

This list with Cases of doubt about the phoneme-grapheme assignment offers an overview of which sounds in the German language are graphematically ambiguous, i.e. can be assigned to different letters or letter combinations. Rules are also given for determining in which cases which sound corresponds to which letter.

This page is about consonants and consonant clusters. Vowels and diphthongs are covered on another page.

Consonants in the final word [edit]

Overview [edit]

Most German word stems are based on the pattern "Konsonant / Konsonantencluster - Vowel / Diphthong - Konsonant / Konsonantencluster" (examples: H-u-nd, l-ie-b, St-ah-l, kl-ei-n). Others start with a vowel or diphthong (examples: a-lt, Oh-r, Ei-s) or end with a vowel or diphthong (examples: R-eh, Schn-ee, fr-ei).

The vowel is either long and closed (example: kam [kaːm]) or short and open (example: kamm [kam]), where the length of the vowel is not determined by the grapheme of the vowel, but by the grapheme of the Final is shown. Here is an overview:

Final phoneme Grapheme after long vowel Grapheme after short vowel
[b], [d], [f], [g], [l], [m], [n], [p], [ʀ], [t] b, d, f, g, l, m, n, p, r, t
(Examples: gift, leather, call, tiger, scarf, cathedral, dune, horn, goods, father)
bb, dd, ff, gg, ll, mm, nn, pp, rr, tt
(Examples: ebb, ram, hope, excavator, sound, mud, jug, tilt, cart, nut)
[k] k (hook) ck (neck)
[s] ß (greeting) ss (kiss)
[ʦ] z (duzen) tz (dozen)
[ç], [x], [ʃ] ch, ch, sh (me, thing, fish)
[pf], [st], [nt], [ks] and all other consonant clusters pf, st, nt / nd, x / chs etc.
(Pot, guest, colorful, wind, witch, fox)
[j], [z], [v] j, s, v / w (buoy, read, slave, lion)
vocal in stems that end in a vowel, the vowel is always long
(Examples: there, depending, where, to)

There are a number of exceptions to these rules, which are listed here.

Consonants [edit]

[b] [edit]

The consonant [b] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "b"And after short vowels as"bb“(Examples: fork, stay, crab). However, the grapheme “bb” is rare in German.

  • Examples: Abbé, tingle, babble, shiver, bubble, dribble, ebb, gibbon, goo, grab, hobby, job, kabbalah, kabble, kibbutz, nibble, nibble, crab, crawl, tingle, limp, lobby, bullying, nebulous, nibble, rabbi, seal, rub, sabbath, drool, drool, slobber, scrub, mop, scrub, bob, wobble

[d] [edit]

The consonant [d] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "d"And after short vowels as"dd“(Examples: or [ˈoːdɐ], joy [ˈfʀɔɪ̯də], Aries ['vɪdɐ]). However, the grapheme “dd” is rare in German.

  • Examples: Addition, digging, digging, cheddar, fleddern, Yiddish, kaddish, notebook, cuddling, koddern, koddy, muddling, paddle, pattering, pudding, wheal, dirty, dirty, Schnodder, shredder, teddy, tassel, ram

[f] [edit]

The consonant [f] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "f"And after short vowels as"ff“(Examples: sleep [ʃla: f], buy [ˈkaʊ̯fn̩], spoon ['lœfəl]).

If inflection forms or derivatives can be formed in which the [f] - is replaced by a [v] sound, then [f] is used as "v" written down.

  • Examples: active (activity), archive (archive), good (good), dative (dative), fictional (fictional), concave (concave), italic (italic), lascivious (lascivious), massive (massive), motif (motivic ), naive (naivety), olive (olive), passive (passivity), tripod (tripods)

In some cases, in which an [f] final is notated as “v”, the etymology is hardly apparent.

Occasionally the phoneme [v], but the phoneme [f], is not noted with an inside “v”.

In (mostly Greek) foreign words the phoneme [f] is often also used as "ph" written down.

  • Examples: amphora, asphalt, dauphin, emphasis, ephemeral, graph, lymph, nymph, prophet, sapphire, stanza, trophy, typhus, zephyr

[g] [edit]

The consonant [g] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "G"And after short vowels as"gg“(Examples: lying [ˈlyːɡn̩], violin [ˈɡaɪ̯ɡə], excavator [ˈbaɡɐ]). However, the grapheme “gg” is rare in German.

  • Examples: agglomeration, aggression, excavator, bootlegger, brig, buggy, mastiff, harrow, log in, flag, full-fledged, jogging, cog, lagg, leggings, log, logger, meschugge, mugge, nigger, nugget, pierogge, quagga, reggae, Rig, rye, smuggle, sedge, suggestion, trigger, wagon

In some foreign words (including Italian), [g] is used as "gh" written down.

[k] [edit]

The consonant [k] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "k"And after short vowels as"ck“(Examples: Laken [ˈlaːkən], timpani [ˈpaʊ̯kə], sack [zak]).

Exception: gone (see exceptional cases in graphics)

If inflection forms or derivatives can be formed in which the [k] - is replaced by a [g] sound, then [k] is used as "G" written down.

  • Examples: bad (anger), bellows (bellows), bang (anxious), mountain (mountains), thing (things), dung (fertilizer), tight (narrow), eternal (eternal), catch (catch), flight (fly ), Gait (gears), slope (slopes), young (younger), barren (barren), clever (smarter), long (longer), above (above), oily (oily), rank (ranks), ring (rings ), Coffin (coffins), victory (to win), suction (to suck), web (webs), day (days), tallow (tallowy), dough (doughy), trough (troughs), stuff (create), train (trains ), twenty (twenties)

Also in the inflected forms of some verbs, [k] is notated as “g”.

  • Examples: rescue (barg), bog (bend), catch (caught), fly (flew), hang (hung), lay (lie), log (lie), sing (sang), carry (carried), weighed (weigh ), pulled (pull)

Sometimes it is not clear to students why [k] is written as “g”.

  • Examples: airbag, education, bug, camping, vinegar, ginseng, gong, grog, honey, humbug, jogging, looping, brass, bullying, railing, smoking, tow, savoy cabbage

In some foreign words, [k] is used as "c“, „cc“, „ch“, „cch"Or"kk" written down. Examples:

  • Acrylic, ad hoc, barbecue, chic, circa, handicap, musical, picador, sambuca
  • Broccoli, piccolo, staccato, toccata, yucca
  • Conch, orchestra, techno
  • Bacchanal, Gnocchi, Macchia, Radicchio, Zucchini
  • Accolade, chord, mocha, occult, piccolo, jacket

[l] [edit]

The consonant [l] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "l"And after short vowels as"ll“(Examples: fetch ['hoːlən], rope [zaɪ̯l], wave [ˈvɛlə]).

[m] [edit]

The consonant [m] is after long vowels or after diphthongs as "m"And after short vowels as"mm“(Examples: name [ˈnaːmə], dream [tʀaʊ̯m], flame [ˈflamə]).

[n] [edit]

The consonant [n] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "n"And after short vowels as"nn“(Examples: plan [plaːn], wine [vaɪ̯n], sun [ˈzɔnə]).

[p] [edit]

The consonant [p] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "p"And after short vowels as"pp“(Examples: horn [ˈhuːpə], caterpillar ['ʀaʊ̯pə], doll [ˈpʊpə]).

If inflection forms or derivatives can be formed in which the [p] - is replaced by a [b] sound, then [p] is used as "b" written down.

  • Examples: rough (rough), thief (thieves), yellow (yellow), grave (graves), coarse (coarser), half (half), bitter (bitter), blow (blows), lift (lift), calf (calves ), Basket (baskets), loaf (loaves), leaves (defoliate), body (bodies), dear (love), praise (praise), robbery (rob), sieve (sieves), rod (sticks), deaf (deaf ), Trot (trot), dull (dreary), verb (verbs), woman (women)
    • in the inflected forms of some verbs: to remain (stayed), give (gave), dig (grub), lift (lift), rub (rub), push (push), write (wrote), die (died), drive (drive) advertise (advertise)

In some cases it is difficult to find suitable diffraction shapes or derivatives.

  • Examples: ab, Alb, darob, Kebab, Klub, Lab, Maghreb, Nabob, ob, Snob

[ʀ] / [r] [edit]

The consonant [ʀ] or [r] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "r"And after short vowels as"rr“(Examples: Ware ['vaːʀə], Karren [ˈkaʀən]).

In some Greek foreign words it is called "rrh" written down.

[s] [edit]

The consonant [s] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "ß"And after short vowels as"ss“(Examples: fun [ʃpaːs], diligence [flaɪ̯s], water [ˈvasɐ]).

The spelling reform of 1996 greatly reduced the number of words with “ß”. Today the letter "ß" only occurs in the stems of the following words:

  • outside, bite, bare, piss off, penance, outside, thirty, diligence, flow, flow, raft, foot, vessel, goat, scourge, according to, enjoy, buttocks, pour, gleam, semolina, large, greeting, hot, hot, hot, dumpling, pinch, measure, chisel, leisure, tear, soot, shit, hideous, shoot, close, lap, sauce, fun, spit, splice, splice, sprout, rump, push, street, ostrich, sweet, sweat, annoyed, white

It also occurs in individual inflections of the following verbs:

The final- [s] is called "s“Noted when it is a consonant cluster.

  • Examples: one, rock, chamois, goose, plaster of paris, neck, pug, ledge, us, doublet, catfish, interest

It is also noted as "s" when inflection forms or derivatives can be formed in which the [s] - is replaced by a [z] sound.

  • Examples: this (this), ice (icy), nasty (nasty), gas (gases), glass (glasses), grass (graze), house (houses), gravel (pebbles), louse (louse), lot (lots ), Mouse (mice), lousy (lousy), moss (moss), mus (muse)

For some words that end in [s] in the stem and are written with "s", however, the etymology is opaque for students.

In some foreign words, [s] is used as "c“,„z"Or"currently" written down. Examples:

  • Advertisement, balance, farce, ice cream, launch, toilet bag, renaissance, resource, sauce, policy, trance
  • Quiz, showbiz
  • jazz

[z] [edit]

The consonant [z], when it follows a long vowel or diphthong, is almost always used as "s“(Examples: nose [ˈnaːzə], travel ['ʀaɪ̯zən]).

After short vowels it only occurs in foreign words, where it is also usually used as "s“Is noted (examples: basilica [baˈziːlika], business [ˈbɪzˌnəs]). Occasionally it is also called "z"Or"currently" written down. Examples:

[ʃ] [edit]

The consonant [ʃ] is usually used as "sch“(Examples: bag ['taʃə], human [mɛnʃ], spray [gɪʃt]). It is almost always preceded by a short consonant or diphthong.

In some foreign words, [ʃ] is used as "ch"Or"sh"written down. Examples:

  • Attaché, blanch, branch, brioche, gouache, quiche, microfiche, research, revenge, touch, carve
  • cash, crash test, geisha, relish, squash, sushi

[t] [edit]

The consonant [t] is after long vowels or after diphthongs as "t"And after short vowels as"dd“(Examples: Note [ˈnoːtə], mother [ˈmʊtɐ]).

If inflection forms or derivatives can be formed in which the [t] - is replaced by a [d] -sound, then [t] is used as "d" written down.

  • Examples: Bad (bathe), soon (soon), ribbon (ribbons), picture (pictures), covenant (to bind), oath (oath), fad (fade), field (fields), money (monies), gold (golden ), Degree (degrees), hand (act), hero (heroes), shirt (shirts), hearth (flock), dog (doggy), iodine (iodide), child (children), country (countries), suffering (unfortunately ), Lid (lids), song (songs), maid (maids), mild (mild), moon (moons), murder (murder), mouth (mouths), envy (envious), path (paths), wheel (wheels ), Edge (edges), beef (cattle), round (round), sand (sandy), death (death), forest (woods), wild (wild), wind (windy), will (become), sore (wound )

Finding suitable inflections or derivatives is difficult for students in many cases. Sometimes even only experts are able to explain the etymology of a final "d".

  • Examples: Billiard, Savior, Any, Hunting, Youth, Reputation, Mahd, Moped, Nowhere, Schmand, Are, Emerald, and, Waid, Weiland

In some Greek foreign words, [t] is used as "th" written down.

  • Examples: ether, athlete, ethanol, ethics, catheter, cathode, methane, method, myth, pathos, python, rhythm, zither

[v] [edit]

The internal consonant [v] is either "v" or as "w"Noted, whereby" v "occurs a little more frequently than" w ". Examples:

  • Bivouac, divan, roughly, forever, ginger, jewel, kerwe, kiwi, riot, avalanche, lion, seagull, Slavic, widow
  • Advent, agave, bravo, motto, submissive, diva, frivolous, crook, halva, piano, curve, larva, lava, level, level, octave, olive, baboon, private, powder, territory, rival, volley, slave

Apart from proper names, “v” and “w” do not appear as double consonants in German.

Affricates and consonant clusters

[ks] [edit]

The consonant compound [ks] is usually used as "x" written down.

  • Examples: axiom, box, boxing, crux, exact, examen, exile, exotic, fax, fix, haxe, witch, joke, crawl, lax, luxury, maxi, maxim, mixer, nothing, mermaid, oxide, pixel, sex, Taxis, taxi

[Ks] is less common than "chs" written down. This grapheme occurs only in the roots of some old German words.

  • Examples: axis, armpit, boxwood, can, badger, drawbar, woodturning, lizard, lizard, flax, fox, fuchsia, knuckle salmon, lynx, ox, six, wax, jizz, growth

Occasionally [ks] is used as "cks" written down. Examples:

  • press, Gesocks, chuckle, chop, clacks, blobs, cracks, mucks, shots, stracks, tricks, for the purpose
  • if the trunk ends in "ck" + Fugen-s: fenugreek, bastard, lucky charm

The phoneme [ks] is almost always preceded by a short vowel.

[ʦ] [edit]

The affricate [ʦ] is used after long vowels or after diphthongs as "z"And after short vowels as"tz“(Examples: duzen [ˈduːʦn̩], wheat [ˈvaɪ̯ʦn̩], cat [ˈkaʦə]).

Stems that have a long vowel and end in [ʦ] are rare in German.

  • Examples: pretzel, duzen, fläzen, Flöz, Kiez, Mieze, siezen, uzen
    • Foreign words: acacia, decibel, duodez, faeces, conclusion, grace, hospice, evidence, justice, kamikaze, hood, crucifix, militia, Nazi, ocean, ocelot, precise, primiz, strain, trapeze, vice

In some exceptional cases, [ʦ] is used as "ts" written down.

  • after long vowel: Gutsel, Pilot, Rätsel, always (see exceptional cases of graphic art)
    • in the inflected forms of some verbs: frying (roasting), guessing (guessing)
  • after short vowel: in town, beyond, jiu-jitsu, at night, retsina, forwards

In foreign words, [ʦ] is sometimes also used as "c"Or"currently" written down. Examples:

  • Acetyl, placebo
  • Bajazzo, grandezza, intermezzo, lipizzaner, mezzanine, mezzo-soprano, mozzarella, muezzin, palazzo, paparazzi, pizza, pizzicato, raid, revolutionary, sketch, strizzi

See also [edit]