How to Correctly Pronounce the Umlaute ä, ö, ü

by Stephan Brenner

A short guide to getting your head round these dotted fellas.

Each language comes with a set of challenges. One of German's specialities are the so-called Umlaute. They represent a sound change in a vowel and are commonly found in Germanic languages. Vowels in general are pronounced differently according to whether they are long or short. Let's take a look at how we can learn to pronounce all of them correctly.

Long (i.e. stressed)

– “ä” as in Käse is like an English person saying “air”


– “ü” as in müde is like a Scottish person saying “grew” Make the sound “ee” as in “cheese” and then make your lips into an “o” shape.


– “ö” as in blöd is like an English person saying “burn” Make the sound “a” as in the word “may” and then make your lips into an “o” shape.

Short (i.e. unstressed)

– “ä” as in hängen is pronounced like the English word “ten”
– “ü” as in Mütter is like the English word “wit” but round your lips as if whistling
– “ö” as in Hölle is like an English person saying “her”

Practice makes perfect!

Feeling a little silly when learning a new language is part of the journey. Pronouncing words properly is really important so that others can understand you and to prevent a very thick accent. So don't despÄr and keep practising.

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