Street Addresses and Phone Numbers

There are actually two ways to say the number “two” in German. You already know zwei. But there is another form of that number, and it is a very close relative to the English number two. The other German form is zwo (TSVOH). The two forms can be used interchangeably, but zwo is usually used to be clear about the number that is meant. It is often used to give a precise figure. Telephone numbers sometimes are spoken with zwo.

For example, if your telephone number in Germany is 82 21 45, you would tell someone your number by saying, “Meine Telefonnummer ist acht zwei, zwei eins, vier fünf.” (My telephone number is eight two, two one, four five) To be a bit more precise, you could say, “Meine Telefonnummer ist acht zwo, zwo eins, vier fünf.” Notice that the numbers are generally said in pairs.

If you wish to give your area code, you say, “Die Vorwahl ist null, vier, zwei.” (The area code is zero, four, two.) Or you could say, “Die Vorwahl ist null, vier, zwo.”

In Germany, it is common to answer the telephone by saying your last name as an introduction. For example, you could answer the phone with “Schmidt” or “Schmidt am Apparat” (Schmidt on the phone). You will often hear das Handy used when referring to a cell phone. The proper name is das Mobiltelefon.

The same use of zwei or zwo is possible when giving an address. It all has to do with wishing to give precise numbers to someone (i.e., avoiding confusion because zwei und drei rhyme). In German addresses, the number is usually said after the street: Hauptstraße 9.

But, like English, German uses more than the word Straße (street) in addresses. They sometimes also use Allee (lane) or Chaussee (from the French word for road). And there are numerous specialized phrases used for street names. Look at the examples in Table 11-6.

Table 11-6. German Street Addresses

Address Pronunciation of the Number Buchwaldstraße 9 neun (NOIN) Schlüterstraße 24 vierundzwanzig (fear-oont-TSVAHN-tsik) Rothenbaumchaussee 32 z weiunddreißig (tsvy-oont-DRY-sik) Bahnhofallee 5 fünf (FUENF) Kurfürstendamm 12 zwölf (TSVERLF) Neue Kantstraße 2 zwei (TSVY) or zwo (TSVOH) Westring 10 zehn (TSAYN) Kaiserdamm 11 elf (ELF)

When giving an address, normally the zip code and city come first, followed by the street address. When addressing an envelope, use the same format but place the name of the recipient above the zip code and city. Look at some examples of complete addresses together with telephone numbers for northeastern Germany (Vorwahl [area code]: 0049).

When dialing a phone number within Germany, you need to dial a 0 before the city code. For example, the first number in Table 11-7 would be 040-433 99 66. It's similar to the U.S. practice of dialing a 1 before the area code.

Table 11-7. Addresses with City, Street, and Telephone Number

There is a slight difference between the English version of an address and a German version. The sender's address is placed in the upper left hand corner just like in English. The first line is often the abbreviation Abs., which stands for Absender (the sender of the letter). This is followed by the name of the sender, the sender's street address, and the sender's Postleitzahl (zip code), city, and country (if in a different country). The sender's address would look like this:

Felix SchneiderBahnhofstr. 2520466 Hamburg(Deutschland)

In most cases in the German-speaking world, the street number follows the street name (Kaiserallee 11). And when writing from one German-speaking country to another, the letters D, A, and Ch precede the Postleitzahl to identify Germany, Austria, and Switzerland respectively (A-4922 Waldzell).

The addressee's address on an envelope is similar in form and appears in the center of the envelope just as in English. But the addressee should be addressed by his or her title (Herr, Frau, Professor, etc.) on the first line. The addressee's name appears on the second line and then street address, Postleitzahl and city, with the optional country last.

For example:

HerrnFriedrich SchillerKaiserallee 11A-4922 WaldzellÖsterreich

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