Count and Pay in German

by Expath Language School

To count or to pay? That is the question.

Similar German Words

Zählen means “to count” and zahlen means “to pay”. Both words have the same root Zahl, meaning “number” but they are frequently mixed up and mispronounced, creating confusing situations.

Here’s some help on how to pronounce the two:

  • The “ä” in zählen is like the “eh” sound you make when expressing indifference.

  • The “a” in zahlen is like the “aaah” sound you make at the dentist.


Ich zähle Geld. I count money.

Ich zahle Geld. I pay money.

Here are two mnemonics to help you remember the pronunciation:

“Eh, I counted it and it’s enough.”

“Aaaaaaah, I can’t pay this!”

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