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Ch In German

In German, does "ch" make a shh sound or a hard h sound? I'm pretty sure it's a hard h but when this program says some words I really can't tell. If it's both, what are the rules for which way you say it?

June 23, 2012



There are several different pronunciations, depending on where in the word it appears. This should answer all your questions: http://www.pauljoycegerman.co.uk/pronounce/consonch.html


Hard h sound. Kind of like the 'H' in the english word 'huge' but slightly exaggerated. Or a very soft, relaxed version of a cat hissing.


The "ch" in "Bach" and in "ich" are completely different!

There are two different "ch"s in German: the "hard ch" is paired with the vowels O, A, and U. In combination with all other vowels (Ö, Ä, Ü, I, E) you use the "soft ch".

The hard one is like in the Scottish word "loch". Try saying "ha" in a really breathy voice from the back of your throat, and holding the "h" longer than usual: "hhhhha..."

The soft one comes in words like "ich", "Nächte, "Becher", "möchte", etc. It almost sounds like "sh" if you're not listening closely. Try saying "he" (as in he/she) the same way you did above: holding the "h" really long and pronouncing it all breathy from the back of your throat.

To correctly pronounce "ich", you can basically just say "ihhhhh". That will sound a lot more accurate than "ick" or however else people tell you to say it.


I started out by taking the sound from the front sound of the word "yes" when you whisper it. It's not exact, but it's a good place to start the soft "ch". Just whisper "yes" and take that "y" and slap it onto "ich". The hard "ch" I took from the sound as though you're trying to clear your throat, but without vibrating it.

I hope at least something from that made sense. I've never studied linguistics, so I don't know the terms. Just keep listening to Germans speaking and keep trying.

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