Learning the basics: Language

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Europe is vast. There are 44 countries in Europe, each with their own unique language and linguistic styles, and it's only polite to know at least a little of each language before you visit.

We can't deny it, us Brits have the habit of expecting everyone to be able to speak English, and whilst many European countries can speak English, its polite and often welcomed, to attempt to speak the native language (however bad you are at it!).

One thing that often confuses English speakers about European languages is the word order and the designation of male, female and neutral words. This can be tricky but with a little practice, you can pick some basics which will come in handy when travelling on the continent. In most cases, even if you do muddle up you male, female and neutral words, people will appreciate that you are trying and will make a mutual effort to understand.

These words and phrases are standard words as per national dictionaries, colloquial phrases may also be used locally. Some words and phrases will require gender to make full sense.

Austria

Austrian German is the official language of Austria. It is a variant of German, in the same way that American English is a variant of British English. There are some subtle differences in accent, tone, spelling and grammar but are mostly interchangeable.

👋 Say hello
Hallo

👋 Say goodbye
Auf Wiedersehen or tschüss

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht

💬 Say please and thank you
Bitte/Dankeschön

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nein

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Es tut uns leid (can be used interchangeably)/Verzeihung

🧮 Counting 1-10
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Tee, Kaffee, Bier, Wein

💶 How much?
Wie viel? 

Belgium

Belgium has three official languages; Dutch which the primary mother language of the country, French which is mainly spoken in Wallonia, and German which is the least prevalent of the trio.

👋 Say hello 
Hallo (Dutch & German), Bonjour (French)

👋 Say goodbye
Tot ziens (Dutch), Au revoir (French), Auf Wiedersehen or tschüss (Germany)

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Goedemorgen, Goedenmiddag, Goedenavond, Welterusten (Dutch)
Bonjour, Bon après-midi, Bonne soirée, Bonne nuit (French)
Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht (German)

💬 Say please and thank you
Alsjeblieft/Bedankt (Dutch)
S'il te plaît/Merci (French)
Bitte/Dankeschön (German)

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nee (Dutch)
Oui/non (French)
Ja/nein (German)

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Sorry/pardon (Dutch)
Désolée (f) or Désolé (m)/Excuse-moi or pardon (French)
Es tut uns leid (can be used interchangeably)/Verzeihung (German)

🧮 Counting 1-10
Een, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven, acht, negen, tien (Dutch)
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix (French)
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn (German)

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Thee, koffie, bier, wijn (Dutch)
Thé, café, bière, vin (French)
Tee, Kaffee, Bier, Wein (German)

💶 How much?
Hoe veel? (Dutch)
Combien? (French)
Wie viel? (German)

Croatia

Unsurprisingly, Croatian is the official language of Croatia, using Latin as its foundation. Like many Eastern European languages, it can be challenging for English and western speakers to pronounce. But give it a go, you might surprise yourself!

👋 Say hello
Zdravo

👋 Say goodbye
Doviđenja

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Dobro jutro, Dobar dan, Dobra večer, Laku noć

💬 Say please and thank you
Molim/Hvala vam

💬 Say yes/no
Da/ne

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Oprosti/Ispričajte me

🧮 Counting 1-10
Jedan, dva, tri, četiri, pet, šest, sedam, osam, devet, deset

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Čaj, kava, pivo, vino

💶 How much?
Koliko?

Czech Republic

Similar to Slovak and Polish, Czech also uses Latin as its main influence. Like other European languages, it divides its words into masculine, feminine and neutral, and further sub-divides masculine into animate and inanimate but we won't go into that...!

👋 Say hello and goodbye
Ahoj

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Dobré ráno, Dobré odpoledne, Dobrý večer, Dobrou noc

💬 Say please and thank you
Prosím/děkuji

💬 Say yes/no
Ano/ne

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Promiňte (can be used interchangeably)

🧮 Counting 1-10
Jedna, dva, tři, čtyři, pět, šest, sedm, osm, devět, deset

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Čaj, káva, pivo, víno

💶 How much?
Jak moc?

Denmark

While 86% of Danes speak English as a second language, Danish is the official language. It has many similarities to neighbouring German.

👋 Say hello
Hej

👋 Say goodbye
Farvel

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
God morgen, God eftermiddag, God aften, Godnat

💬 Say please and thank you
Vær venlig/tak skal du have

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/Ingen

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Undskyld/Undskyld mig

🧮 Counting 1-10
En, to, tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, otte, ni, ti

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Te, kaffe, øl, vin

💶 How much?
Hvor meget?

France

French is the most widely spoken modern foreign language in the UK with 23% of the population able to speak or understand it. Some French words and phrases have made their way into the English language such as cul-de-sac, café, faux pas and protégé.

👋 Say hello
Bonjour

👋 Say goodbye
Au revoir

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Bonjour (used interchangeably with 'hello'), Bon après-midi, Bonne soirée, Bonne nuit

💬 Say please and thank you
S'il te plaît/Merci

💬 Say yes/no
Oui/non

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Désolée (f) or Désolé (m)/Excuse-moi or pardon

🧮 Counting 1-10
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Thé, café, bière, vin 

💶 How much?
Combien?

Germany

Germany is often regarded as Europe's powerhouse, and yet just 9% of the UK population can speak or understand German.  

👋 Say hello
Hallo

👋 Say goodbye
Auf Wiedersehen or tschüss

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht

💬 Say please and thank you
Bitte and Dankeschön 

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nein

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Es tut uns leid (can be used interchangeably)/Verzeihung 

🧮 Counting 1-10
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn 

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Tee, Kaffee, Bier, Wein

💶 How much?
Wie viel? 

Greece

Speaking, understanding and learning Greek is incredibly difficult due to its complex and ancient alphabet which has been used for over 2,600 years, making it the oldest Indo-European language. It's probably sensible to focus on just one useful phrase here, rather than trying to remember them all. We've added the English alphabetic pronunciation in brackets.

👋 Say hello
γεια σας (geia sas)

👋 Say goodbye
Αντιο σας (antio sas)

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Καλημέρα (kaliméra), Καλό απόγευμα (kaló apógevma) (can be used interchangeably with 'Good Evening'), Καληνυχτα (kalinychta)

💬 Say please and thank you
Σας παρακαλούμε (sas parakaloúme)/Σας ευχαριστώ (sas efcharistó)

💬 Say yes/no
Ναί (naí)/Οχι (ochi)

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Συγνώμη (sygnómi)/Με συγχωρείς (me synchoreís)

🧮 Counting 1-10
ένα (éna), δύο (dýo), τρία (tría), τέσσερα (téssera), πέντε (pénte), έξι (éxi), επτά (eptá), οκτώ (októ), εννέα (ennéa), δέκα (déka)

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Τσάι (tsái), καφές (kafés), μπύρα (býra), κρασί (krasí)

💶 How much?
Πόσο? (póso?)

Italy

Italian; the language of love, music and art. Native Brits rated it the sexiest accent according to a CNN poll. And like French, we've borrowed a few words into the English language, namely musical phrases like tempocrescendo and soprano.

👋 Say hello
Ciao

👋 Say goodbye
Arrivederci

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Buon giorno, Buon pomeriggio, Buona serata, Buona notte

💬 Say please and thank you
Per favore/Grazie

💬 Say yes/no
Sì/no

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Scusate/Mi scusi

🧮 Counting 1-10
Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Tè, caffè, birra, vino

💶 How much?
Quanto?

Luxembourg

Luxembourgish is the official language of Luxembourg. We'll admit it, it sounds made-up but its been the officially language since 1984. For ease of communication between other European nations, it uses French and German for administrative purposes.

👋 Say hello
Hallo

👋 Say goodbye
Äddi

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Gudde Moien, Gudde Mëtteg, Gudden Owend, Gutt Nuecht

💬 Say please and thank you
Wann ech glift/Merci

💬 Say yes/no
Jo/nee

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Et deet mir leed/Entschëllegt

🧮 Counting 1-10
Eent, zwee, dräi, véier, fënnef, sechs, siwen, aacht, néng, zéng

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Téi, kaffi, béier, wäin

💶 How much?
Wéivill?

Netherlands

Dutch is spoken by around 25 million people, mainly across the Netherlands and Belgium. It is considered a Germanic language and is related closely to German and English, sitting roughly between them. It hasn't adopted the German umlaut (like English) but retains its use of genders (like German).

👋 Say hello
Hallo

👋 Say goodbye
Tot ziens

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Goedemorgen, Goedenmiddag, Goedenavond, Welterusten

💬 Say please and thank you
Alsjeblieft/bedankt

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nee

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Sorry/pardon

🧮 Counting 1-10
Een, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven, acht, negen, tien

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Thee, koffie, bier, wijn

💶 How much?
Hoe veel?

Norway

Norwegian is the official language of Norway along with Sami, a minority language used in several areas of Norway, Finland, Sweden and the extreme northwest of Russia. Written Norwegian is divided into two standards; Bokmål and Nynorsk.

👋 Say hello
Hallo

👋 Say goodbye
Ha det

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
God morgen, God ettermiddag, God kveld, God natt

💬 Say please and thank you
Vær så snill/takk skal du ha

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nei

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Beklager/unnskyld meg

🧮 Counting 1-10
En, to, tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, åtte, ni, ti

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Te, kaffe, øl, vin

💶 How much?
Hvor mye?

Portugal

Whilst the language originates from the Iberian Peninsula of Europe, Portuguese is the official language of Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, and of course, Portugal. It is the world's sixth most spoken language and Europe's third most spoken language.

👋 Say hello
Olá

👋 Say goodbye
Adeus

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Bom Dia, Boa tarde, Boa noite (used interchangeably with good night)

💬 Say please and thank you
Por favor/Obrigado

💬 Say yes/no
Sim/não

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Desculpa/desculpe-me

🧮 Counting 1-10
Um, dois, três, quatro, cinco, seis, sete, oito, nove, dez

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Chá, café, cerveja, vinho

💶 How much?
Quantos?

Slovenia

Slovenia has been described as one of the most complex meeting points of languages in Europe. It merges together Slavic (languages originating in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the far east of Russia), Germanic (languages spoken mainly in Europe and other mainly English-speaking countries), Romance (languages originating from Latin like French, Spanish and Italian) and Uralic (languages largely spoken in the northern Europe states of Norway, Finland, Sweden and parts of Russia). The official language is Slovene.

👋 Say hello
Zdravo

👋 Say goodbye
Adijo

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Dobro jutro, Dober večer (used interchangeably with good evening), Lahko noč

💬 Say please and thank you
Prosim/hvala vam

💬 Say yes/no
Da/ne

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Oprosti/Oprostite

🧮 Counting 1-10
Ena, dva, tri, štiri, pet, šest, sedem, osem, devet, deset

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Čaj, kava, pivo, vino

💶 How much?
Koliko?

Spain

With over 500 million native speakers, Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world after English, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi.

👋 Say hello
Hola

👋 Say goodbye
Adiós

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Buenos dias, Buenas tardes, Buenas noches (used interchangeably with good night)

💬 Say please and thank you
Por favor/gracias

💬 Say yes/no
Sí/no

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Perdón/Perdóneme

🧮 Counting 1-10
uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Té, café, cerveza, vino

💶 How much?
¿Cuanta? (f) or ¿Cuanto? (m)

Sweden

Sweden, famous for giving us ABBA, meatballs and IKEA. The Swedish language has around 10 million native speakers, making it the most widely spoken Northern Germanic language. It is also a co-official language in Finland.

👋 Say hello
Hej

👋 Say goodbye
Adjö

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
God morgon, God eftermiddag, God kväll, Godnatt

💬 Say please and thank you
Snälla du/tack

💬 Say yes/no
Ja/nej

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Förlåt/Ursäkta mig

🧮 Counting 1-10
Ett, två, tre, fyra, fem, sex, sju, åtta, nio, tio

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Te, kaffe, öl, vin

💶 How much?
Hur mycket?

Switzerland

Nestled between France, Germany, Italy and Austria, Switzerland takes its official languages from its neighbours, with the addition of Romansch which is spoken by just 0.5% of the population, mainly in the canton of Grisons.

👋 Say hello
Bonjour (French)
Hallo (German)
Ciao (Italian)

👋 Say goodbye
Au revoir (French)
Auf Wiedersehen or tschüss (German)
Arrivederci (Italian)

💬 Say good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night
Bonjour, Bon après-midi, Bonne soirée, Bonne nuit (French)
Guten morgen, Guten tag, Guten abend, Gute nacht (German)
Buon giorno, Buon pomeriggio, Buona serata, Buona notte (Italian)

💬 Say please and thank you
S'il te plaît (French)
Bitte (German)
Per favore (Italian)

💬 Say yes/no
Oui/non (French)
Ja/nein (German)
Sì/no (Italian)

💬 Say sorry/excuse me
Désolée (f) or Désolé (m) / Excuse-moi (French)
Es tut uns leid/Verzeihung (German)
Scusate/Mi scusi (Italian)

🧮 Counting 1-10
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix (French)
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn (German)
Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci (Italian)

☕️ Tea, coffee, beer, wine
Thé, café, bière, vin (French)
Tee, kaffee, bier, wein (German)
Tè, caffè, birra, vino (Italian)

💶 How much?
Combien? (French)
Wie viel? (German)
Quanto? (Italian)


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