Hello everyone! I am here to contribute and hopefully help someone who is reading my article to improve on their German. Today we are going to learn how to talk about computers and the Internet in German. I know there is a similar article here, but I am going to offer another angle on this topic matter.


As in any other language, this topic can be tricky. Sometimes you can use the same word and be understood. While other times you take the lexical morpheme as given in English and put grammatical morphemes here and there at the beginning and/or at the end. Also, there can be times that the meaning is translated completely different in German and you will not be able to understand it if you don’t use an online an online translation tool.


  1. The Graphic starts with “Daten” (data) and “Netzwerke” (networks) in the middle.
  2. Top right is the user’s point of view.
  3. Bottom right is the developer’s point of view.
  4. Bottom left: Everything about hardware.
  5. Top left: Internet and society.



Case 1: Let’s start off easy


Some words are stable loanwords from English which are used mostly in the untranslated form:


  • Computer, but sometimes we use “Rechner”.
  • Internet
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Smartphone: but be careful not to get this confused with Handy.
    • Handy is a German word that sounds as if it could be English, but in German, a Handy is a cell phone.


Here are some other words (nouns), but they have to be attached with a German “Artikel (der/die/das)”:


  • (der) Browser
  • (die) E-mail
  • (die) Cloud


There are some brand new words that are still too new to have available translations. For example:


  • Social commerce: using commerce websites as social network platforms (with profiles and like-buttons).
  • Big data: the huge amount of data created by users surfing in the Internet.



Case 2: Different point of views


From a user’s point of view you might encounter the words such as:


  • twittern
  • posten
  • bloggen


Of course, you can very well guess what the those three words mean because they all look familiar with just the addition of „-en“ for the infinitive form in German attached to the end.


We use can also write in the German infinitive form these words:


  • downloaden
  • updaten
  • googlen
  • chatten


There are also many other words that formed due to the introduction of the Internet in the same way.


Also from a developer’s point of view you can find these kind of loanwords as well:


  • implementieren
  • debuggen
  • installieren


However, keep in mind that you have to conjugate these words with the German verb ending and the regular form of building the past participle. For example you would say:


  • Ich chatte gerade.
    • [chatt –e (1st Person SG)]
  • I am chatting right now.


  • Hast du das Programm schon downgeloadet?
    • down-ge-load-et, “ge-„ and „-et“ is the regular way of building the past participle in German)
  • Did you download the program already?


  • Er installiert gerade Linux.
    • [install- iert (3rd Person SG)]
  • He is currently installing Linux.


  • Mein Video ist geliket worden.
    • [ge- like- t (Past Participle)]
  • Somebody liked my video.



You see! German can be easy to grasp and master.



Case 3: Hardware-expressions


Now let’s dig a little deeper to making hardware-expressions, and the results turn dramatically. For example:


  • Halbleiterspeicher (Semiconductor memory)
  • Glasfaserkabel (Fiber optic cable)


For developers, you can find translated forms of the original English words. For example:


  • Eingabeaufforderung (Command prompt)
  • Befehl (Command)
  • Anwendung (Application)


Also, common office interactions are now written German. So when you are editing a text with a text program you will find words such as:


  • Datei speichern (save file)
  • Datei löschen (erase file)
  • drucken (print)
  • Grafik einfügen (insert graphic)


Don’t be scared. You might’ve already been able to guess the meaning of some of these words when you saw them in an office program.


At the same time, when computer related topics are mentioned in media and news, journalists often will use a German equivalent word to the English terms below, such as:


  • blogging becomes “Nutzergenerierte Inhalte”.
  • social networks are referred to as “Soziale Netzwerke”.
    • As it turned out to be important to form a public opinion.
  • E-mails, e-mailing, and similar words are labeled under “Dokumentenverkehr”.
  • When a network or software is hacked, they are reported in the news as “Sicherheitslücke”.
  • Privacy settings are always a favorite topic in German news. This is referred to as “Privatsphäre-Einstellungen”.


I hope that by reading this article, your mind map on the German language is now clearer. I hope this article has also sparked your interest on continuing to learn German.


Of course keep in mind that as time passes the words seen here may become obsolete as well. Since language is an ever evolving phenomenon. Thus my graphic in this article can change in meaningfulness over time.


Hero image by Luis Llerena (CC0 1.0)