- Northern Bavarian, mainly spoken in Upper Palatinate, but also in adjacent areas (small parts of Upper Franconia (Wunsiedel (district)), Saxonia (southern Vogtland), Middle Franconia, Upper Bavaria and Lower Bavaria).
- Central Bavarian along the main rivers Isar and Danube, spoken in Upper Bavaria (including Munich, which has a standard German speaking majority), Lower Bavaria, southern Upper Palatinate, the Swabian district of Aichach-Friedberg, the northern parts of the State of Salzburg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Vienna and the Northern Burgenland.
- Southern Bavarian in Tyrol, South Tyrol, Carinthia, Styria, and the southern parts of Salzburg and Burgenland.
Differences are clearly noticeable within those three subgroups, which in Austria often coincide with the borders of the particular states. For example, each of the accents of Carinthia, Styria and Tyrol can be easily recognised. Also there is a marked difference between eastern and western central Bavarian, roughly coinciding with the border between Austria and Bavaria. In addition, the Viennese dialect has some characteristics distinguishing it from all other dialects. In Vienna, minor, but recognizable, variations are characteristic for distinct districts of the city.
Public sign combining Standard German and Bavarian.
In contrast to many other varieties of German, Bavarian differs sufficiently from Standard German to make it difficult for native speakers to adopt standard pronunciation. All educated Bavarians and Austrians, however, can read, write and understand Standard German, but may have very little opportunity to speak it, especially in rural areas. In those regions, Standard German is restricted to use as the language of writing and the media. It is therefore often referred to as Schriftdeutsch ("written German") rather than the usual term ("High German" or "Standard German").
Bavaria and Austria officially use Standard German as the primary medium of education. With the spread of universal education, the exposure of speakers of Bavarian to Standard German has been increasing, and many younger people, especially in the region's cities, and larger towns speak Standard German with only a slight accent. This accent usually only exists in families where Bavarian is spoken regularly. Families that do not use Bavarian at home usually use Standard German instead. In Austria, some parts of grammar and spelling are taught in Standard German lessons. As reading and writing in Bavarian is generally not taught at schools, almost all literate speakers of the language prefer to use Standard German for writing. Regional authors and literature may play a role in education, as well, but by and large Standard German is the lingua franca.
Although there exist grammars, vocabularies, and a translation of the Bible in Bavarian, there is no common orthographic standard. Poetry is written in various Bavarian dialects, and many pop songs use the language as well, especially ones belonging to the Austropop wave of the 1970s and 1980s.
On the use of Bavarian and standard German in Austria see Austrian German.
- Bavarian features case inflection in the article only. With very few exceptions, nouns are not inflected for case.
- The simple past tense is very rare in Bavarian, and has been retained with only a few verbs, including 'to be' and 'to want'. In general, the perfect is used to express past time.
- Bavarian features verbal inflection for several moods, such as indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. See the table below for inflection of the Bavarian verb måcha, 'make; do':
|1. Sg||i måch||i måchad||måchadi|
|2. Sg (informal)||du måchst||måch!||du måchast||måchast|
|3. Sg||er måcht||er måch!||er måchad||måchada|
|1. Pl||mia måchan*||måchma!||mia måchadn||måchadma|
|2. Pl||eß måchts||måchts!||eß måchats||måchats|
|3. Pl||se måchan(t)||se måchadn||måchadns|
|2. Sg (formal)||Si måchan||måchan’S!||Si måchadn||måchadn’S|
|1st person||2nd person informal||2nd person formal||3rd person||2nd person|
|Nominative||du||Si||ea, se/de, des||mia||eß/öß / ia*||se|
|Unstressed||-'s||-a, -'s, -'s||-ma|
|Dative||dia||Eana||eam, eara/iara, dem||uns, ins||enk / eich*||ea, eana|
|Accusative||-mi||-di||eam, eara/iara, des|
|-'n, …, -'s|
* These are typically used in the very northern dialects of Bavarian.
|Masculine singular||Feminine singular||Neuter singular||Plural (any gender)|
The possessive pronouns Deina and Seina inflect in the same manner. Oftentimes, nige is added to the nominative to form the adjective form of the possessive pronoun, like mei(nige), dei(nige), and the like.
Just like the possessive pronouns listed above, the indefinite pronouns koana, "none", and oana, "one" are inflected the same way.
There is also the indefinite pronoun ebba, "someone" with its impersonal form ebbs, "something". It is inflected in the following way:
The Interrogative Pronouns wea, "who", and wås, "what" are inflected the same way the indefinite pronoun ebba is inflected.
Bavarians produce a variety of nicknames for those who bear traditional Bavarian or German names like Josef, Theresa or Georg (becoming Sepp'l or more commonly Sepp, Resi and Schorsch, respectively). Bavarians often refer to names with the family name coming first (like da Stoiber Ede instead of Edmund Stoiber). The use of the article is considered mandatory when using this linguistic variation. In addition, there exist for almost every family (especially in little villages), nicknames different from the family name. They consist largely of their profession, names or professions of deceased inhabitants of their homes or the site where their homes are located. This nickname is called Hausname (en: name of the house) and is seldom used to name the person, but more to state where they come from, live in or to whom they are related.