How to talk about your feelings in German

How to talk about your feelings in German

by Maria Inês Teixeira

Updated November 7, 2022

Common stereotypes tell us that German is a cold, rational language ideal for expressing thoughts or philosophies, but not really emotions. That isn’t true, though! German is a flexible, expressive language in which new words can be created in a heartbeat…and still make a lot of sense! If you want to sound as natural as possible in German, talking about feelings or emotions is a must. So here are some expressions you can use from now on.

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German phrases to express your emotions

1. Ich bin…

By far, the most common way to express an emotion in German is to use ich bin, which means “I am”. Just like in English, all you have to do is add any adjective in front of it! 

  • Ich bin begeistert! – I’m excited!
  • Ich bin besorgt. – I’m worried.
  • Ich bin böse. – I’m angry.
  • Ich bin erleichtert. – I’m relieved.
  • Ich bin glücklich. – I’m happy.
  • Ich bin müde. (I’m tired.
  • Ich bin traurig. – I’m sad.
  • Ich bin optimistisch. – I’m optimistic.
  • Ich bin verwirrt. – I’m confused.
  • Ich bin voll down. – I’m feeling completely down.

If you’d like to express you’re very happy, you can also just add the word sehr to your sentence to add an exclamation of excitement in German: Ich bin sehr glücklich (I’m very happy). This also works for sadness: Ich bin sehr traurig (I’m very sad), for example.

2. Mir ist…

Some emotions are better expressed in German using Mir ist rather than Ich bin, and that will largely depend on set phrases rather than logic. You’ll get used to them as you practice listening more often. It starts becoming natural after a while! 

  • Mir ist langweilig. – I’m bored.
  • Mir ist übel. – I feel sick.
  • Mir ist peinlich! – I’m embarrassed!

Be careful: sometimes the difference between using Mir ist… or Ich bin… can be staggering! For example, saying Mir ist langweilig means something is making you bored, while Ich bin langweilig means you’re the boring person in the room! Similarly, by saying Mir ist peinlich you mean you’re embarrassed, but saying Ich bin peinlich means you’re the one who’s embarrassing.

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3. Ich fühle mich…

Ich fühle mich… literally means “I feel myself”. However, this expression won’t make sense in German unless you add adjectives in front of it. Might not be very logical in English, but in German it’ll be crucial if you plan on talking about your state of mind! 

  • Ich fühle mich einsam. – I feel lonely.
  • Ich fühle mich elend. – I feel awful.
  • Ich fühle mich gut. – I feel good.
  • Ich fühle mich toll! – I feel great!
  • Ich fühle mich wohl. – I feel wholesome/comfortable.

4. Mir geht’s… / Es geht…

Mir geht’s… literally translates to “it goes to me…” and is often used to talk about how you’re doing. When somebody asks you what you’ve been up to or how you’ve been lately, you can reply using:

  • Mir geht’s gut. – literally “It goes to me good”, which means “I’m doing well”.
  • Mir geht’s super! – literally “It goes to me super!”, which means “I’m doing very well!”
  • Es geht so. – Not too bad, doing okay.

Asking others about their feelings

There are plenty of ways you can ask other people how they’re doing. You can ask Wie geht’s? or Wie geht’s dir? when talking to a close friend or in informal contexts. Use Wie geht es Ihnen? for formal situations. If you notice somebody is feeling strange or negative in any way, you might want to ask Was ist los?, which means “What’s wrong?”. 

If you’re looking for the best way to learn German, you might want to consider speaking from day one by learning these phrases as a whole and repeating them until they start becoming natural! We’ve spoken about chunking and how it can serve you, so you might want to check that out. 

Know any other phrases for talking about feelings in German? Share them with us!

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