German Particles

What are particles?

›Particles are unchangeable words that aren‘t considered prepositions, adverbs, or conjunctions.

Characteristics of particles

›They can‘t be the answer to a question.

›They make the language more „lively“, can make an entire sentence negative or positive, and show feeling.

›They are especially often used in spoken language.

›You can always leave them out.

Types of particles?

Deutsche Grammatik Partikel

  • ›Intensifying Particles
  • ›Focus Particles
  • ›Negating Particles
  • ›Modal Particles
  • ›Speech Particles
  • ›Interjections
  • ›Onomatopoeia

Intensifying Particles

They always come before an adjective or adverb and either strengthen or weaken its meaning.

›Depending on the particle, the strengthening or weakening can be small or large.

The most important ones: wenig, nicht so, gar nicht, überhaupt nicht, etwas, einigermaßen, fast, ziemlich, so, sehr, ausgesprochen, besonders, ungemein, überaus, äußerst, zutiefst, höchst, zu

Examples – Intensifying Particles:

  • „Der Fernseher ist etwas teuer.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist wirklich günstig.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist recht günstig.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist sehr teuer.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist zu teuer.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist ziemlich teuer.“
  • „Der Fernseher ist gar nicht so teuer.“

Modal Particles

›Modal particles are also known as „shading particles“ because they show different shades of meanings of other words.

›They are mainly used in spoken language and show the feelings, attitude, and mood of the speaker.


  • „Das musste ja passieren.“
  • „Was kommt heute eigentlich im Fernsehen?“
  • „Was hast du denn gemacht?“
  • „Vielleicht holen wir doch lieber einen Elektriker?“
  • „Komm mal hier her!“

Modal particles are extremely hard to understand and even harder to use for someone who isn´t a native German speaker. In Lecture Modal Particles I try to explain it a bit further.

Focus Particles

›Focus particles emphasize or highlight something important.

›Focus particles are related to a specific part of the sentence and normally come before the part that is to be highlighted.

The most important ones: wenig, etwas, einigermaßen, fast, ziemlich, so, sehr, ausgesprochen, besonders, ungemein, überaus, äußerst, zutiefst, höchst, zu

Focus Particles – Examples:

  • Die Show war toll.  Mir haben besonders die Lichteffekte gefallen.“
  • Mir gefällt die Wohnung nicht. Vor allem das Bad ist zu klein.“
  • Was du hast kein Facebook? Sogar meine 80-jährige Oma ist bei Facebook!“

Negating Particles

›The negation word „nicht“ is a particle.

  • „Ich fahre heute nicht zu Oma.“

Speech Particles

Speech particles include calls, answers, and greetings.

Examples: ja, nein, hm, gern, okay, gut, genau, richtig, …


Interjections are expressions that show a state of mind.

Examples: oh, he!, schade!, pfui!, hurra!, igitt!, juhu!, au!, aua!, autsch! uh!, ah!, ach!, huch!, oho!, hoppla!, oje!, hm!, hihi!, ätsch!, hui!, puh!, uff!, pff!, phh! hü!, hott!, …


Onomatopoeia describes words that model the sounds and noises they represent.

›They are often found in comics.

Examples: kikeriki, wau, wuff, miau, quak, peng, bumm, boing, tatütata, ticktack; plumps, klirr, schwupps, zack, ruckzuck, puff, dong, klong, ratsch, hui, bums, rums, fump, blub-blub, schnipp, hatschi, …

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