When the German letter 'h' appears at the beginning of a word,
it's pronounced exactly as the initial sound of the English words 'how', 'hard', 'here'.
The letter is pronounced exactly the same when it appears in the middle of a word as well.
Click on the examples below to listen to German words containing the letter 'h'.
|Letter 'h' in initial position|
|Herz - heart||Hals - neck||heute - today|
|Hand - hand||hundert - hundred||helfen - to help|
|Letter 'h' in medial position|
|Altenheim - retirement home||namhaft - well-known||aufhängen - to hang up|
|Bahnhof - station||Abhilfe - remedy||Vorhof - front yard|
However, when the German letter 'h' is placed in the middle of a word after a vowel, it's not pronounced.
In such situation, it's used to indicate that the vowel is a long one (discussed in detail in a later lesson).
Click on the examples below to listen to German words containing a vowel followed with the letter 'h'.
|Letter 'h' after a vowel|
|fahren - to drive||wohnen - to live||mehr - more|
|Ruhe - calm||nehmen - to take||Jahr - year|
Unlike English, there is no 'th' sound in the German language, either the 'h' is silent, and only the 't' is pronounced, which occurs in German words taken from other foreign languages, or each letter is pronounced separately, which most usually occurs in German compound words.
|Silent 'h' in 'th' combinations|
|Apotheke - drugstore||Theater - theatre||Mathe - math|
|Theorie - theory||Methode - method||Athlet - athlete|
|Separate 'h' & 't' in 'th' combinations|
|dorthin - there (to)||enthalten - to contain||Rathaus - town hall|
|Arzthelferin - doctor's assistant||anderthalb - one & a half||Nachthemd - nightshirt|
All German words containing a 'ph' combination are taken from English; and thus are pronounced as a 'f' as well. Although most of these words have already been Germanified such that they are now spelled with a 'f' letter.
|Words containing 'ph' combination|
|Alphabet - alphabet||Phantasie - fantasy||Biographie - biography|
|Phrase - phrase||Delphin - dolphin||Mikrophon - microphone|
Finally, it's worth noting that the letter 'h' never appears in the end of any German word, except if its a word taken from a foreign language and ending with a 'ph' or 'th' combination.