Learning the days of the week in German is one language skill you need to master early on.
And although a lot of the German days of the week sound quite close to their English equivalent, many beginner learners find themselves running into some confusion.
Is Tuesday in German Donnerstag or Dienstag?
In this article, we’ll give you the basics the German days of the week. So the next time someone asks you “Welchen Wochentag haben wir heute?”, you know you’ll give the right answer!
- German days of the week
- A trick for Dienstag and Donnerstag
- Abbreviations of the days
- Reading signs with days in German
German days of the week
Montag is “Monday” in German
Much like the word in English, Montag is related to thinking of Monday as the moon’s day.
Mond is the word for the moon in German, so much like the word in English, it got a bit smooshed together over the years.
Dienstag is “Tuesday” in German
Even though it doesn’t look anything like Tuesday in English, it actually is related.
It was originally named after an old German called Tyr or Tíw, hence Tuesday in English. However, by the time modern German rolled around, it became Dienstag, or the day of service, possibly from the Latin dies Martes.
Mittwoch is “Wednesday” in German
This is an easy one. Literally the middle of the week (Mitte is middle or center and Woche is week), it makes much more sense in German.
Interestingly, the word Wednesday in English comes from the name of the old Germanic god Woden, sometimes called Odin in Scandinavian mythology.
Donnerstag is “Thursday” in German
Donner means thunder in German, and we all know which god/superhero controls the thunder, right? It’s Thor with his mighty hammer.
In German, we have thunder’s day, and in English, we have a version of Thor’s day, so really quite similar!
Freitag is “Friday” in German
Both the English and German words here are related to the Norse goddess of love, Frige. She was Woden’s wife, and managed everything to do with marriage, love, home and children.
Interestingly, many assumed Friday was named after Freya. However, it is a little unclear as to whether these two goddesses are actually different or not.
Dive deep into Norse mythology for the answer for that one, but the English and German days have the same root, whichever goddess it is!
Samstag is “Saturday” in German
We return to Latin for this one, as both English and German draw on dies Saturni (the day of Saturn) for their names.
Note! In some areas in north and eastern Germany, you might also hear the word Sonnenabend which also refers to Saturday. It makes sense because it translates to the evening before sunday.
Sonntag is “Sunday” in German
Just like in English, Sonntag is straightforwardly the sun day.
Remember: All the days of the week are masculine, using der and ein.
A trick for Dienstag and Donnerstag
Getting Dienstag and Donnerstag mixed up is a rite of passage for any new German speaker. So, don’t get those two mixed up when you have an appointment, or you might miss it!
One trick that might help is this: Dienstag is the shorter word, so it comes earlier in the week. And since Donnerstag is longer, it falls later in the week.
Abbreviations of the days
The abbreviation of the German days of the week is shortened to only two letters, with no full stop to denote the short form. Like this:
Reading signs with days in German
Quickly reading signs when driving, parking, looking new bus schedules and store opening hours means you’ll be using these skills a lot.
The phrasing ‘von… bis’ means ‘from… to‘, for example: Von Dienstag bis Donnerstag (from Tuesday to Thursday).
Ich tanze montags
Finally, if you want to talk about something happening every week on a specific day, you no longer capitalize the day of the week and add an ‘s’. If I want to say, “I dance on Mondays”, it would be: Ich tanze montags.
Now that you’ve learned about the German days of the week, dive into our next article to know how to say months and dates in German.
Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favorite activity, along with sewing, archery, and historical reenactment. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.