User:German Lessons/Level I/Essen

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Dialogue: English language.svg I'm hungry! — Flag of Germany and Austria.svg Ich habe Hunger!
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Franz Hallo, Greta! Wie geht's?
Greta Sehr gut. Ich bin hungrig.
Franz Ich auch. Möchtest du etwas essen?
Greta Ja!
In der Gaststätte
Greta Ich möchte Salat, Brot und Wasser.
Franz Hast du jetzt keinen Hunger?
Greta Doch, ich habe großen Hunger. Was bekommst du?
Franz Ich bekomme ein Stück Apfelstrudel und einen Eisbecher.
Greta Warum das? Du sollst eine Bratwurst nehmen.
Franz Nein, ich bin zufrieden. Ich habe keinen großen Hunger.
Greta Ach so, dann ist das genug.
Nach zwanzig Minuten
Greta Diese Gaststätte ist schrecklich! Ich möchte etwas zu essen!
Franz Wir gehen!


Vocabulary: English language.svg Food — Flag of Germany and Austria.svg die Nahrungsmittel (pl.)
(missing file: File:German Vocabulary - Food.ogg, how to upload audio)
die Früchte (das Obst) - fruits das Gemüse - vegetables
die Banane banana die Möhre, die Karotte carrot
die Kirsche cherry der Spinat spinach
die Zitrone lemon die Zwiebel onion
die Erdbeere strawberry die Erbsen peas
die Orange orange die Kartoffel potato
der Apfel apple die Tomate tomato
die Traube grape der Spargel asparagus
die Grapefruit grapefruit die Bohnen beans
das Fleisch - meat die Meeresfrüchte - shellfish, seafood
das Lammfleisch lamb die Kammmuschel scallop
der Truthahn turkey die Krabbe crab
der Schinken ham die Garnele shrimp
das Schweinefleisch pork der Fisch - fish
das Hähnchen chicken die Sardellen anchovies
das Rindfleisch beef der Lachs salmon
die Wurst sausage der Aal eel
die Milchprodukte - dairy products Other Foods
die Butter butter die Suppe soup
der Käse cheese die Fritten French fries
die Milch milk die Pizza pizza
der Joghurt yogurt der Hamburger hamburger
die Nachspeise - dessert der Senf mustard
das Bonbon candy das Brot bread
die Schokolade chocolate die Butter butter
die Torte tart der Salat salad
der Kuchen cake der Pfeffer pepper
der Apfelstrudel apple strudel der Reis rice
der (Apfel)Kuchen (apple) pie das Salz salt
das Eis ice cream der Zucker sugar
der Eisbecher bowl of ice cream die Konfitüre jam

Section Problems >>

Accusative CaseEdit

As you know from the introduction, in German, there are four cases. Three are used often. The first, Nominative Case, you learned in Lesson 1. It covers the subject, and the predicate noun (in "He is (noun).", (noun) is the predicate noun). The second, the Accusative Case, you will learn now. It covers the direct object and the object of several prepositions. The third, the Dative Case will be taught later on. It covers the indirect object and the object of many other prepositions.

The object of a sentence will be in accusative case. In, "You hurt me.", 'me' would be accusative.

Note: The Accusative Case and Dative Case are identical in English; that's why German has one case extra.


Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Definite Article den die das die
Indefinite Article einen eine ein -eine*

* The indefinite article for plurals is non-existent. However related words, such as possessives and the kein- words that you will learn later this lesson, will end in eine for plurals.

In the articles, the memory hook for accusative case is "Der goes to den (pronounced "dane" About this sound audio ) and the rest stays the same." The masculine indefinite article goes to einen, and everything else stays the same there. Therefore above, der Hamburger goes to den Hamburger and ein Hamburger goes to einen Hamburger when the hamburger is the direct object, such as in "Er hat einen Hamburger." ("He has a hamburger.")

If you are getting confused, it's fine. This topic is one of the hardest for English speakers to grasp. Here are some solutions:

To find out the case of something, first find the verb. The verb rules the sentence. Everything revolves around it. Next you find the subject of the sentence. The subject is the thing/person that is doing the verb. The subject is always in the Nominative Case, so it takes on the der, die, das, die, or ein, eine, ein.

Now you look back at the verb. If it is a being verb (am, are, is, etc.), the next noun after the verb is the predicate noun. An easy way to figure this out is to write an equation. If the verb can be replaced with an equals sign (=), then the following noun is a predicate noun. If it can't be replaced by an equals sign, refer to the next paragraph. The predicate noun is also always in the Nominative Case, so the same rules apply to it.

Ich bin ein Junge.
Sie ist eine Frau.

If the verb of the sentence is an action verb (playing, throwing, making, eating), find what the subject is doing the verb to. For example, if the verb is "makes" (macht), you look for what is being made. That is the direct object. The direct object is always in the Accusative Case, so it takes on the den, die, das, die, or einen, eine, ein.

Sie haben den Cheeseburger.
Habt ihr einen Salat?

The indefinite articles, when you just look at their endings, select e, -, e for nominative case, and en, e, -, e for accusative.

Remember, between nominative and accusative, the only third-person change is in the masculine form.

Section Problems >>


The pronouns experience a much bigger change than the articles. This is also true in English, as the articles (a, an, the) do not change ever, but I goes to me, we goes to us, etc.

Not everything is the same, though. While me is mich and us is uns, the second and third persons undergo different changes. In third person, as in the articles, the only change is in masculine singular. Following the "der goes to den" rule, er goes to ihn when in the accusative case.

The second person in English never changes. In German, du goes to dich and ihr goes to euch. Sie, the formal version of either, stays the same. Remember, Sie (2nd person formal) and sie (3rd person plural) only differ in their meanings and the fact that the former is capitalized and the latter is not. This stays true throughout German grammar.

Here is a tabular representation of the above.

Person Singular Plural
English German English German
1st me mich us uns
2nd you dich you (all) euch
3rd him, her, it ihn, sie, es them sie

Section Problems >>


Note: This is just a quick lesson in English grammar applied into German. If you already know all about antecedents in English, skip the first paragraph.

When using a pronoun, you have to know what it is for it to work. There are some rare exceptions, such as in mysteries or drama, but otherwise this is always true. Sometimes in dialogue this is taken care of by pointing or making some other gesture, but most of the time, the pronoun modifies something already mentioned. The object/person mentioned earlier that turns into a pronoun later is called the antecedent.

In German this is very useful. You can't simply say 'it' anymore. Many food words are masculine and feminine, and when you turn them into pronouns, they turn into 'he', 'she', 'him', and 'her', not always 'it'. For example, the sentence "The cheeseburger tastes good. It's very crunchy." turns into "The cheeseburger tastes good. He's very crunchy." Note: You will learn how to say this in German later in this lesson.

Why is it "he"? This is where the antecedent comes in. Because there are foods that are masculine and feminine in German, you can't assume the 'es'. You have to look back at the previous sentence, at the antecedent, der Cheeseburger. "Der Cheeseburger" is replaced by er (since it is the subject, and therefore in Nominative Case). Therefore, all you need to know are these connections: der/den-er/ihn, die-sie, das-es, die-sie.

Section Problems >>

Food-Related VerbsEdit

  • essen (I) - to eat, to be eating, to do eat
  • trinken - to drink, to be drinking, to do drink
  • bekommen - to get/receive, to be getting/receiving, to do get/receive
  • möchten (M) - would like
  • wollen (M) - to want, to be wanting, to do want

Of these five verbs, only trinken and bekommen are regular. Essen is irregular (that's what the "I" means). Do you remember from the last lesson 'lesen' and 'sehen'? In both of them, the first 'e' changed to 'ie' in the du- and er/sie/es-forms. Well essen experiences the same change, except that it changes to 'i', not 'ie'. Also, it acts the same as 'lesen' in the du-form: You don't have three s's in a row.

Person Singular Plural
1st ich esse wir essen
2nd du isst ihr esst
3rd er/sie/es isst sie essen

Isst sounds and looks a lot like ist. The minute difference happens to be in the way you pronounce the s. When you mean eats it is sometimes an overstressed hissing (i.e. extremely sharp) sound. In normal life Germans, too, can only tell which verb is meant from knowing the context.

Just like in last lesson, where you could say, "Ich spiele gerne Fußball.", you can also extend it to food. "I like to eat cheeseburgers." is translated as "Ich esse gerne Cheeseburger."

Before 1996, the usage of ißt and eßt were common, but the new reform rules specify that these spellings are now the only correct spellings.

The last two verbs (marked (M)) are modals. They will be discussed in the next section.

Section Problems >>


In the introduction, you learned that German has no helping verbs. Instead, they have modals, words that basically do the same thing.

Modals are conjugated very differently from normal verbs. The ich- and er/sie/es-forms are always the same, while the du-form adds an 'st'. Most modals experience a vowel change from singular to plural, and the rest is the same.


'Möchten' isn't technically a modal, but it acts exactly the same. There is no vowel change, and the ich- and er/sie/es forms are "möchte". Here is the complete conjugation:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich möchte wir möchten
2nd du möchtest ihr möchtet
3rd er/sie/es möchte sie möchten

'Möchten' means "would like" and can be applied to food (i.e. Ich möchte einen Cheeseburger.). Möchten can be translated even more literally as "would like to", and is traditionally used with an infinitive verb at the end of the sentence (i.e. "Ich möchte jetzt gehen"/"I would like to go now"). However, this infinitive is not neccesary if it's completely obvious what you're talking about (If you say "Ich möchte einen Cheeseburger", everyone will assume that you would like a cheeseburger to eat.)

(Note: Technically, "möchten" is not a word. The above cited conjugation is actually the "Konjunktiv" of "mögen", which has become so popular as a phrase, that even many Germans today aren't aware of it anymore, so you don't need to worry about it. "Etwas mögen" means "to like to", and "I would like" is the closest translation of "ich möchte.")


'Wollen' is a true modal; it even changes vowels. Ich/er/sie/es will and du willst. Here is the complete conjugation:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich will wir wollen
2nd du willst ihr wollt
3rd er/sie/es will sie wollen

'Wollen' can also be applied to food, but may be considered impolite and demanding ("Ich will einen Cheeseburger!" roughly means "I demand a cheeseburger!" Möchten should be used instead: "Ich möchte einen Cheeseburger!" = "I want a cheeseburger!").

'Wollen' should not be confused with the future tense, despite the presence of the English word 'will' in the conjugations. However, will can also mean an intent or a document showing what one wants to happen. So it is not so different from 'to want' as possibly originally presumed.

Modals with other verbsEdit

This is very important. When you need to use another verb with a modal (such as expressing you would like or want to perform an action), the sentence's word order is somewhat different than it would be in English. In English, you would state the subject pronoun (such as "I"), an English equivalent to the modal verb (such as "want"), the action you want to perform (such as "to eat") and then what the action will be performed on (such as "hamburger"), making the sentence "I want to eat a hamburger." In German you must put the action at the end of the sentence, making the sentence "I want a hamburger to eat." ("Ich will einen Hamburger essen.")

Section Problems >>

Hunger and ThirstEdit

In German, instead of saying, "I'm hungry.", you say "I have hunger." The same applies to thirst. Here are the German translations of the corresponding nouns:

Hunger - der Hunger

Thirst - der Durst

Like in English, these two words do not have a plural form. When using them, you don't need to worry about the 'der'; you can just say, "Ich habe Hunger." to say "I am hungry."

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Formal ConversationsEdit

In Lesson 1, you learned how to talk formally, using phrases like "Guten Morgen!" and "Wie heißen Sie?". There are, however, a few words that are 'survival words' in Germany, specifically:

Danke - Thank you, Thanks

Bitte - Please and You're welcome.

To make this even more formal, you can tack on the word 'schön' to the end of "Thank you" and "You're welcome" to make 'dankeschön' and 'bitteschön' (both one word) in response. 'Schön' literally means 'pretty' (you'll relearn this next lesson).

Some other ways to say "thank you":

  • Dankeschön - Thank you very much
  • Danke sehr - Thanks a lot
  • Herzlichen Dank ("herzlichen" means sincere or from the heart; you may remember it from "Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag!" last lesson)
  • Vielen Dank - Thanks a lot
  • Tausend Dank* - Thanks a million (literally meaning a thousand, but English is more generous)
  • Aufrichtigen Dank* - would be "thank you sincerely" (very formal)

* - You will not be tested on these phrases.

Some other ways to say "You are welcome":

  • Bitteschön!
  • Bitte sehr!
  • Gern geschehen! - Don't mention it
  • Gerne! - also meaning "gladly"
  • Kein Problem! - No problem
  • Dafür nicht!* - (Do) not (thank me) for this (only used in Northern Germany)

* - You will not be tested on this phrase.

These might also be useful:

Entschuldigung - Excuse me, Pardon

Es tut mir leid - Sorry, I'm sorry

Section Problems >>


Twice you have been taught that the ending of the indefinite article for plurals would be eine (for Nominative and Accusative cases), if there was an indefinite article for plurals. Now that lesson applies. The kein-words have the same endings as the ein-words, and they mean the opposite: no, not any, none. For example, "kein Cheeseburger" means "no cheeseburger". "Keine Cheeseburger" (in this case Cheeseburger is plural) means "No cheeseburgers". Notice the 'e' at the end of 'keine'. That's the ending for plurals and feminine nouns and can be likened to the "der, die, das -> die" relationship, where the feminine article serves for the plural as well.

Section Problems >>

Ordering at a Restaurant in GermanyEdit

das Restaur'ant' (French pronunciation) - Restaurant About this sound Fr-Restaurant.ogg

There are many restaurants you might find in Germany. Much like in English-speaking countries, you would more likely use the name of the restaurant than name what kind of restaurant. If you want to address the wish to eat a certain food, there are two ways:

example: "wanting to eat chinese food"

1. "Ich möchte gerne zum Chinesen." - literally: "I want to go to the Chinese (restaurant)." 2. "Ich möchte gerne chinesisch essen (gehen)." - literally: "I want to (go) eat Chinese (style food)."

Here are some more restaurants you can find in Germany:

  • American food: "zum Amerikaner" / "amerikanisch essen"*
  • Arabic food: "zum Araber" / "arabisch essen"
  • Chinese food: "zum Chinesen" / "chinesisch essen"
  • French food: "zum Franzosen" / "französisch essen"
  • Greek food: "zum Griechen" / "griechisch essen"
  • Italian food: "zum Italiener" / "italienisch essen"
  • Indian food: "zum Inder" / "indisch essen"
  • Japanese food: "zum Japaner" / "japanisch essen"
  • Mexican food: "zum Mexikaner" / "mexikanisch essen"
  • Spanish food: "zum Spanier" / "spanisch essen"
  • Turkish food: "zum Türken" / "türkisch essen"

* "zum Amerikaner" is often used in a jokey way, to express that one is going to either McDonald's or Burger King. There are few American restaurants, in Germany and they are mostly referred to as "(American) Diner", so it is not used like "zum Italiener".

Accusative case prepositionsEdit

You read at the beginning of this lesson that the Accusative Case covers the direct object and the objects of some prepositions. Here are those prepositions that always fall under Accusative Case

bis - until

durch - through

entlang - along

für - for

gegen - against

ohne - without

um - at, around

You learned um last lesson, and ohne earlier this lesson. Bis, durch, entlang and gegen will be taught in depth later, and für will be taught now.

Up until this point, you have only worried about the Accusative Case in third person. Für, meaning 'for', can and should be used in the first and second persons, too. Here's an example:

"The cheeseburger is for me." - "Der Cheeseburger ist für mich."

As you can see, 'me' is put into accusative case because the preposition is für.

Section Problems >>

Saying How Food TastesEdit

In German (as in English) there are several ways of telling how food tastes. You can do this with 'gut' and 'schlecht' from Lesson 1 to say:

Der Cheeseburger schmeckt gut - The cheeseburger tastes good

Der Cheeseburger schmeckt schlecht - The cheeseburger tastes bad

But this is bland. Hopefully the food has more flavor than the description of it. You can use the following words to more colorfully describe how the cheeseburger tastes:

  • delicious - lecker
  • delicious - delikat* (a lot more formal than lecker)
  • tasty - schmackhaft
  • juicy - saftig*
  • crunchy - knackig (can also mean crispy)
  • crispy - knusprig*
  • spicy - würzig, pikant
  • stale, tasteless - fade* (Austria: fad)
  • salty - salzig
  • oversalted - versalzen*
  • sweet - süß
  • bitter - bitter
  • sour - sauer
  • creamy - cremig*
  • hot (in the sense of "very spicy") - scharf - literally meaning "sharp"
  • hot (in the sense of "very warm") - heiß
  • burnt - angebrannt*
  • cold - kalt
  • disgusting, terrible - schrecklich

* - You will not be tested on these descriptors.

Schmecken is a regular verb. Here is it's conjugation:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich schmecke wir schmecken
2nd du schmeckst ihr schmeckt
3rd er/sie/es schmeckt sie schmecken

The first and second persons really shouldn't be used. No one is going to say, "You guys taste salty" or "I taste creamy." So the only forms you really need to know are er/sie/es schmeckt and sie (plural) schmecken.

You can use 'schmeckt' and 'schmecken' or 'ist' and 'sind' to state how the food tastes. Just use whichever one you would use in English and it'll usually be correct.

Although the English meaning of schmecken is simply to taste, "Schmeckt der Cheeseburger?" can be taken in a positive way to mean "Do you like the cheeseburger?". In other words, schmecken alone can mean to taste good.

Section Problems >>


"The cheeseburger tastes good." does not sound that specific as to which cheeseburger you are talking about. You could be talking about a cheeseburger that is not directly in front of you. It just isn't clear. Now, if you said, "This cheeseburger tastes good.", it would be obvious that you're talking about the cheeseburger you're eating. 'Dieser' is the German translation for 'this': "Dieser Cheeseburger schmeckt gut."


'Dieser' is a special adjective. It changes forms in different situations: different genders and different cases. It can also mean 'these' when modifying a plural. Here are its forms:

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative Case dieser diese dieses diese
Accusative Case diesen diese dieses diese

As you can see, dieser is only appropriate for modifying masculine nouns in nominative case. But 'Cheeseburger', which is masculine, is the subject of the sentence, "Dieser Cheeseburger schmeckt gut." So it is correct in that circumstance.


Jeder means 'every'. It acts exactly like 'dieser' in its endings, so it should be easy to remember. Here are the different forms:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative Case jeder jede jedes
Accusative Case jeden jede jedes

Notice the absence of the plural form. When you think about this, it's the same in English: no one says 'every books'.


'Welcher' is the third of this threesome of adjectives. 'Welcher' means 'which' and is used like the other [w:Interrogative word|interrogatives] (wer, was, wann, wo, warum, wie, and welcher). However, because the general subject has to be specified, welcher must be inflected before use: "Welcher Hamburger ist seine?" Its forms have the same endings as 'dieser'.

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative Case welcher welche welches welche
Accusative Case welchen welche welches welche

Connection with TimeEdit

You might want to say 'every day', 'this week', 'every morning', or 'which Tuesday night?'. But to do this, not only do you need to know the jeder-forms, but also the genders of the times and the cases. The second one is easy: Whenever you do something at a certain time, that time is put into Accusative Case. Last lesson, you learned the gender of one time: der Tag. So now you know everything to say 'diesen Tag', 'jeden Tag', and 'welchen Tag?' (this day, every day, and which day?). Here are the cases of all the times in Lesson 2:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
  • Tag
  • Monat
  • Morgen
  • Abend
  • Nachmittag
  • Woche
  • Nacht
  • Jahr
  • Wochenende

When extending to 'which Tuesday night?', remember that the night stays feminine on Tuesday, so it stays "Welche Dienstagnacht?". Likewise, you can say 'every June' the same as 'every month': 'jeden Juni'.

This and ThatEdit

Ich möchte einen Cheeseburger. Der schmeckt sehr gut.

Ich esse jeden Tag Cheeseburger. Die habe ich gern.

Look at the second sentence of each of these German dialogues. What's missing? That's right, instead of "Der Cheeseburger schmeckt sehr gut." and "Die Cheeseburger habe ich gern.", both of the 'Cheeseburger's, so to speak, are dropped. We're left with just the articles, only in this case, they aren't articles. They're demonstrative pronouns.

Demonstrative pronouns aren't scary. They're just the same as the normal pronouns, only they give more oomph to the sentence. They can be translated as either 'this' or 'that' ("I'd like a cheeseburger. That tastes very good."), or 'these' or 'those' for plurals ("I eat cheeseburgers every day. These I like.").

Demonstrative pronouns are exactly the same as the definite articles (well, there is one change in dative, but that will be covered in Lesson 7). If you are not sure of the gender (meaning in context, the speaker doesn't know, not that you've forgotten that it's 'der Cheeseburger'), use 'das', like in "Was ist das?" (What is that?).

Money and PayingEdit

Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Belgium and Südtirol – in other words: all German speaking regions except Switzerland and Liechtenstein– have given up their former currencies and adopted the Euro as of 1999. One Euro is worth 100 Cents. Because they are not members of the European Union, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have kept the Swiss Francs (Franken = 100 Rappen).

'Euro' normally does not change in the plural in German, so you would still say "Ich habe 500 Euro." Nevertheless, there is an exception: Euro coins. If you say "Ich habe vier Euros.", you actually are saying that you have four 1-Euro coins. Because the backsides of euro coins look different in each country, many people in Europe have started collecting foreign euro coins. In this case you can say "Ich habe irische Euros." (I have Irish euro coins.) for example.

There is not yet a rule whether or not the word "Cent" has a different plural form. The majority of Germans are using the word "Cent" as a plural form, but when they don't it is simply "Cents".

In German "euro" is pronounced [‘oi-ro], not [you-ro]. For "Cent" there are two pronunciations: you can either pronounce it as in English or you say "tzent". The latter version seems to be preferred by older people.

When at a restaurant, you will want to pay at the end. You can use this vocabulary to help you.

  • to pay - zahlen
  • the bill - die Rechnung*
  • the waiter - der Kellner, die Bedienung (also der Ober)**
  • the waitress - die Kellnerin (but not die Oberin because this means Reverend Mother)
  • "How much is that?" - "Was macht das?" ("What does that make?") or the "umgangssprachliche" "Wie viel kostet das?"

* To ask for the bill you can say, "Bitte zahlen!", or make it a complete sentence: "Ich würde gern zahlen!", or "Wir möchten/wollen zahlen!". You can also say, "(Herr Ober), die Rechnung bitte!". The term "der Ober" is the waiter, but this sounds very old fashioned and is hardly ever used today. To address the waiter you would probably say "Entschuldigen Sie, ..." ("Pardon, ...") like in "Entschuldigen Sie, wir würden gern zahlen" (Pardon me, we would like to pay").

** Although it is perfectly OK to say “Bedienung” or “Kellner” when talking about a waiter or a waitress, you should not address the waiter by saying "Bedienung!" or even “Fräulein!” which is regarded very impolite since the 1980s.

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