What’s a “lein”? German Suffixes and What They Mean (PREMIUM)

German is a very logical language. If you know the different parts of the word, you can often figure out what it means. But how do you recognize the parts? In this article, find the most common suffixes in German (and what they look like in the script) to start being able to break apart … Continue reading What’s a “lein”? German Suffixes and What They Mean (PREMIUM)

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9 Old-Fashioned Spelling Patterns in German Genealogy Documents (PREMIUM)

The better you get at German genealogy research, the farther back in time you go. While this is very exciting, it may also present some challenges for you, the researcher. One such challenge is that the accepted German spelling standards today were much more fluid in the past, which can make it difficult to find … Continue reading 9 Old-Fashioned Spelling Patterns in German Genealogy Documents (PREMIUM)

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Essential Death Record Vocabulary (PREMIUM)

All genealogists will likely run into death records at some point in their research. It is therefore important to be able to recognize the German vocabulary words you will encounter. Below is a list of these important words related to German records - plus what they look like in the old German handwriting! For a … Continue reading Essential Death Record Vocabulary (PREMIUM)

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Essential German Genealogy Vocabulary: The Collection

Genealogy can be challenging enough searching for records – but what if you don’t speak the language in which those records are written? In this post, I’ve gathered all my German genealogy vocabulary articles for you in one place, so that you can find the words that best fit your genealogy needs. Enjoy!

10 Descriptive Words For Your Ancestor’s Parents in Vital Records (PREMIUM)

Finding the parents' names of your ancestor on a vital record can be very exciting - an entire generation more to add to your research! But what about those intriguing words that sometimes appear before the parent's name? What do they mean? On vital records (birth+marriage+death certificates), these words usually provide more information about the … Continue reading 10 Descriptive Words For Your Ancestor’s Parents in Vital Records (PREMIUM)

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Taking a Stand!: Understanding the German Word “Stand” (PREMIUM – Guest Post by Ken Weaver)

Anybody who has worked with German records of any sort has come upon the German word Stand.  While over time, this word has come to basically mean the profession (usually of the male named in the column, it actually is more profound than that.  Some examples of the word in records is provided here: Stand … Continue reading Taking a Stand!: Understanding the German Word “Stand” (PREMIUM – Guest Post by Ken Weaver)

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Understanding Numbers in German Genealogy

In order to decipher your ancestor’s dates of birth, marriage, and death in German genealogy, you’ll need to understand how numbers work. Luckily, once you learn numbers one through ten, you have a major head start!

Numbers one through twelve, seen below, will need to be learned by heart:

Video Fun

You can also practice counting to ten with this simple German YouTube video. I find language videos for children are the best way to learn – the catchy tune gets stuck in your head no matter what your age, and you’ll find you have the numbers memorized in no time!

The Teens

Once you are confident with 1-10 (and can remember eleven and twelve from the table above), it’s time to move on to the teens, numbers you will also see in dates on your documents. 

For the numbers 13-19, you simply take the first four letters of the number between three and nine, and then add the word “zehn” to it (our equivalent of “teen”).

More Video Fun

In the video below, review your numbers 1-10, and then add 11-20 to your knowledge!

The Multiples of Ten

Next, it’s important to learn the multiples of ten. While twenty (“zwanzig”) and thirty (“dreißig”) are exceptions, the standard rule is that  you again take the first four letters of the numbers between one and ten and add the word “zig” after (“zig” is like our “ty” in English). Check out the table below, with the word for “hundred” (hundert), thrown in for good measure. 

The In-Betweens

The next part of learning numbers is perhaps the most complicated. For numbers such as 21-29, or 31-39, and so on, you write these numbers  the reverse of how we would in English. 

For example, in English, we would say twenty-two, stating the bigger number first, followed by the smaller number (twenty, then two). In German, however, you would say the smaller number first. For example: 22 would be literally translated as “two and twenty”, or “zweiundzwanzig” in German. 54 would be “four and fifty” or “vierundfünfzig” in German.

And More Video Fun

And if you really love these videos (and how can you not – they are numbers with eyes!), here’s one taking you all the way up to 100!

Important Genealogy Facts to Know

Now that you know numbers in German, there are a few things you should be aware of for genealogy in particular:

 

1.  A “-te”, “-ten”, or a period after a number makes it into an ordinal number (like fourth instead of four in English)

2. The abbreviation “d.” before a date simply stands for “den”, which means “the” (as in d. 6. Mai – the 6th of May)

3. Sevens can be crossed in the middle in German. 

4. Ones can sometimes be written to resemble the lowercase letter “i”. 

5. The number thirty can be written as “dreißig”, “dreissig”, or “dreÿßig” (or another variation). This spelling variaton of “eÿ” instead of “ei” can also apply to the number three (“drei”). 

6. The number “seventy” was sometimes written as “siebenzig” in the past, instead of the shortened “siebzig” used today. 

While handwritten numbers can vary, they tend to resemble those in the image below:

 

For more information on deciphering dates in particular, see The Ultimate List of Months in German Genealogy. Anything else you would add about numbers? Let us know in the comments below!

The Ultimate List of Abbreviations in German Genealogy (PREMIUM)

The Ultimate List of Abbreviations in German Genealogy a.d. - an der/auf der (on the - used for a geographical place names) B. – Bürger (burgher, citizen) Bez/Bzk. - Bezirk (district) ca. - circa (approximately) d. - den (the, before date) d.d. - de dato (Latin, on this date) d.h. - das heißt (that is, … Continue reading The Ultimate List of Abbreviations in German Genealogy (PREMIUM)

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The Top German Words to Find Your Ancestor’s Hometown

Discovering ancestral towns is a thrilling part of any genealogist’s research. But if you don’t speak the language, how are you supposed to know if a word is the name of a town or simply another foreign term? In the table below, find all the town-related words you’ll need to know when working with your ancestors’ German records – as well as what these words may look like in the old German handwriting!

The table starts out with prepositions that may come before the name of a town (all with slight variations in meaning, but which all can be translated with “from” if appearing before a town), followed by many words meaning “here” (many of which are old-fashioned), and concluding with some general town vocabulary that’s important for any German genealogist’s knowledge base. For more information on discovering your ancestor’s hometown, see 5 Tips for Deciphering Town Names on German Records. Best of luck!

*Please note: Due to font limitations, the “final s” of the old German handwriting could not be typed here. Any final “s” in German (an “s” at the end of a syllable or the end of a word), should actually look like this:

This applies to the word “aus” below.*