Free German English Translation

Get the most out of these top 3 free translation resources....

free german english translation

If you're thinking about free German English translation tools, then 2 big names immediately spring to mind.

Yes, you guessed correctly - Google and Wikipedia!

Number 3 is a newer kid on the block you may not be familiar with yet. But it's a great addition we're delighted to welcome – LingueeHere's a sneak preview.

Read on for my tips on how you can use these great free online translation resources to solve your tricky German translation problems:

This article covers:

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1. Google

Hurrah for Google’s Advanced Search tools (Erweiterte Suche):

Enter your term on the main etc. page. On the results page, click on the Options button at the top right. Advanced Search is listed in the drop down menu and gives you the option to refine your search, e.g. using...

  • Quotation marks: "..."

Help locate entire strings. I use this to check if a German phrase is written correctly, e.g. “eine tolle Idee” - the number of hits will give you a fairly good idea if it’s spelt right or not. Then I can play with variations on the spelling.

  • Negate unwanted words

Say I’m looking for searches on one word, Hummer (German for lobster) and I am interested in fishing rather than the vehicle of that name, then I click on Advanced Search and enter Hummer and also enter “vehicle” in “But don’t show pages which have”. This should reduce the listings I need to sift through.


Search only pages in a particular domain. Useful for finding out if or how a large company or organisation uses a term you are researching.

You can also do this directly. E.g. enter into the search box proofreading a list of search results for "proofreading" on this website.

  • Correctly translated?

Check your translation (and your spelling!) by entering the German and English term in the search box together (e.g. Patienten + patient). If the two terms occur frequently in the same sentence then you can be pretty sure that your translation is probably correct.

This is especially recommended where the term you are searching for it pretty rare or very specific to a certain field – I’ve just used if for Zuckertusche which is a printing term which translates into English as “sugar-lift”. Google brought up just one listing which was a discourse on the topic itself.

Absolutely brilliant source of free German English translation advice.

  • Verbatim search

If you're searching for German words containing umlauts (ä, ö, ü): then use verbatim (search tools > all results > verbatim) to ensure Google only brings back exact matches. Enter search term and press return. At the top of the page of returned results click on Search tools > All results > Verbatim.

  • Wildcards*

Use * to pull up associated terms. Useful if you want to check how a phrase is used. E.g. Auf dem Punkt *  brings up lots of instances of auf dem Punkt bringen/gebracht, so I know I'm using the right verb here in my German translation .

  • Plant and animal names

English translations of German flora & fauna can often be hard to find in standard German dictionaries. My tip?

Type the German term into the search box, and in many of the listings which Google returns you’ll find the German name accompanied by its official Latin designation. Simply plug the Latin name back into the search box, set language settings to English, and hey presto (usually)! – lists of sites with the Latin name adjacent to its English translation.

2. Wikipedia

When it comes to German translation, Wikipedia’s chief asset lies in publishing pages in so many different languages, often automatically providing you with a free German English translation. Here are a few of the “Wiki-Tips” I can offer as a result!

  • German names/proper nouns – do they have translations?

Go to Wikipedia’s German starting page  and type the German name in the search box.

When your query is returned, look down the column on the left-hand side and see if they also offer a version of this page in English.

Click on “English” and it’s “Hey presto!” again, your topic in English. This is also a great way of reading around the subject and picking up associated vocabulary on the topic which your translation addresses.

  • German place names

Look up German place names you haven’t heard of – many historical names which reflected the reaches of the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire have now been translated into their local equivalents (e.g. Troppau – is now Opava, in the Czech Republic).

The subject of your translation (context!) will determine whether the historical German name or modern translation is most appropriate in your English text.)

3. Linguee

Linguee is a relatively recent source of free German English translation: it pulls up German texts and their English translations from all over the net, highlighting both the German word/phrase you are searching for and the ways in which it has been translated.

It's USP is showing translations as they relate to the overall text context. Here's how it works, and you can try it out here.

Happy researching with these free German English translation tools!


German Translation Tips & Resources

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German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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