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German 5,275-word vocabulary list and optional Excel VBA app

Back in 2001 when I first began working for a Swiss company, I assembled a list of more than 5,000 words and phrases that I came across in books, projects and conversation that I wanted to keep track of -- words and phrases that were either new to me or liable to confuse me later because of their similarity to other words and phrases. For each noun, I noted its gender and plural, and for each irregular verb, I noted its conjugation. I also noted when verbs were reflexive.

To keep the words fresh, I built my own TinyCards-like applet in VBA. Remember, this was 2001; that's all we had. I considered compiling a c++ or vb.net version but didn't have the time. In any event, I thought Duolingo German students today might find this old retiree's word list helpful. At least 3,000 of the words and phrases will not be covered in the Duolingo course yet are used and understood by every native speaker. Perhaps someone can use the list to turbocharge their own TinyCard deck.

If you want to use the pop-up app, be sure to enable macros. The macros are not password protected so feel free to play around. Here is what the first worksheet in the workbook looks like:

If you want to add vocabulary to the database, just insert a row on the Master worksheet and add the new word or phrase. When you are done adding or editing, click the Synchronize Root and Synonyms button to propogate the new words across the remaining worksheets.

The Synonyms worksheet lists English words and phrases alphabetically alongside corresponding German words and phrases.

The Root worksheet goes the other way, listing German words alphabetically. When the VBA algorithm thinks it has detected a "root" part of the word, it groups such words accordingly, e.g., umbringen is grouped with mitbringen and bringen, hinrichten is listed with richten and (because it's a simple computer algorithm and not AI) Nachricht.

The popup dialog is not modal. That means you can jump around the worksheets without shutting the popup dialog.

The Excel 97 file and three tiny JPG images (a green, yellow and red square) are located in a ZIP file at http://www.scnylab.org/duolingo/wortschatz.zip. If you want to use the VBA popup app, make sure to unzip the four files (vocabulary.xls, rect1.jpg, rect2.jpg and rect3.jpg) and place them in the same directory. I hope someone finds this helpful; it was really useful for me.

May 28, 2017



I have no use for this app since I am German, but hey, what a hell of a job. Great work

  • 1363

Excellent -Thanks for sharing , great stuff.

  • 170

Thanks for sharing! This looks like a great resource.



Thanks a lot, that is very helpful. Do you have any update for this dictionary, or at least do you have a form I can use it for my French words?


Back in 2010, I began re-coding the applet to work with Russian, French and Italian vocabulary but I knew so little of those languages that I tabled the project.

For example, the German version's code looks for words ending in a consonant + "en" and hypothesizes they might be verbs. It then checks whether the beginning of those words begin with typical modifiers, e.g., "be", "an", "ab", "mit", "durch", "ent", etc., then speculates whether what's left in the middle could be a root. In that manner, the algorithm rejects "tworten" as the root of "antworten" because German words don't begin with "tw" but accepts "hangen" as the root of "anhangen" because there is nothing about "hangen" that breaks any of my algorithm's rules. It was never perfect (far from it!) but it was good enough for my purposes. I simply did not know enough French, Russian or Italian at the time (or even now) to formulate these kinds of rule sets for companion French, Russian and Italian versions.

That said, if you leave the last record of the Master worksheet as it is (it's the one labeled ZZZZZ or something similar), you can delete all the rows above and then insert rows to enter whatever vocabulary you'd like in any language. When you are done adding content, click the Synchronize Root and Synonyms button, and you should still be able to launch the Quiz applet. The Synonyms tab should be okay, but the Root tab will be useless.

If you want to add vocabulary using a non-Roman alphabet, you will have to modify parts of the Flags worksheet and associated code. Otherwise, the dropdowns that allow you to scroll down, for example, to records beginning with "ch" won't work except if scrolling down in English. The macro might even crash if it can't find any words fitting any of the scroll-down options.

I can help you populate and test a French version of this if you've got a decent-sized vocabulary list. Upgrading the algorithm for populating the Roots tab will have to wait, unless a native speaker is willing to prepare and walk me through a decision tree or logic diagram for thinking the code through.

As for updates in German, no. I ceased updating this list back in 2003. I regret never adding basic vocabulary -- words I never jotted down because I already knew them. The majority of words and phrases in the Duolingo course are probably therefore missing. But there's no reason they can't be added. There's probably a way for someone to download the DL word list and English translations directly to their PC if they wish to do so.


Thank you for sharing ! :)


Thanks for sharing with us! God bless you!


Thanks for sharing, this really helps....


Good job, I find it very useful!


The link is not working for me, but I would still love to use your list!

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