There are 3 German umlauts: Ä, Ö and Ü
An umlaut is a symbol which describes the sound made by 2 adjoining vowels ("um" = around / "laut" = sound).
They are not separate characters of the German alphabet.
They are easy to pronounce, and sound like a combination of the initial vowel, plus “e”.
The 2 dots above the letter are called diacritic marks, and simply symbolize the “missing” e.
It's fine to write “ae”, “oe” and “ue” when you don’t have a German keyboard, although you can insert them in the form of symbols.
However, if you're regularly working in the German langugage, this will quickly drive you nuts.
If you're techno-savvy you can programme easy shortcuts on your keyboard (so I read).
If not, consider purchasing a German language keyboard!
For those of you using an English-language keyboard (UK), just use this list of commands on the numeric keypad to the right of your keyboard (or number-lock if you don’t have the keypad):
Now just to be really confusing, here we have codes for the US keyboard - which also works for my German keyboard:
And if you work on a Mac, according to my research you simply:
The web doesn’t like non-standard letters, and so if there is an umlaut in a person’s name, for example, you should write their name out in full.
E.g.: Herr Jörg Müller’s email address would be written out as email@example.com
1. Umlauts often signify that a noun is in its plural form, e.g.:
2. They are often found in the comparative form, e.g.:
3. They also appear in the second and third person singular in the present tense of several strong German verbs, e.g.:
If you’re looking for more background and indepth linguistic information on the German umlaut and its origins, then Wikipedia (of course!) it probably a good starting point .
But if you just need to know how to use them, then I hope that, for most of us, the information above will suffice!
Other articles in this series: