The German Verb “Essen”: Your Guide to Talking About Your Food Preferences in German

Can you believe how important the verb “essen” is in German conversations about food? Trust me, you won’t be able to escape it! 😉

“Essen” is a beloved verb in the German language when it comes to discussing meals and flavors. Mastering its various conjugations and understanding how to use different tenses will be the key to discussing your favorite dishes, describing your breakfast choices, planning your dinner menu, or even sharing your go-to snacks.

In this article, we’re going to give you a crash course on the conjugation of “essen”. From the present to the past and the future, we’ll cover it all, providing you with the knowledge to navigate various food-related conversations with ease.

So get ready to effortlessy express your love for food in German using the verb “essen”!

“Essen” in the Present Tense (Präsens)

Knowing the German verb “essen” in the present tense is like having a culinary key that unlocks everything you eat or plan to eat.

Let’s take a look at some examples that might come in handy for you:

Ich esse gerne Pizza. → I like to eat pizza.

Isst du heute mit uns? → Are you eating with us today?

Maria isst keinen Fisch. → Maria doesn’t eat fish.

Wir essen oft zusammen. → We often eat together.

Esst ihr viel Gemüse? → Do you guys eat a lot of vegetables?

Since “essen” is an irregular verb, you’ll need to memorize its conjugation in the present tense which you can find below.

Präsens
ich esseI eat
du isstyou (informal) eat
er/sie/es issthe/she/it eats
wir essenwe eat
ihr esstyou guys/you all eat
sie/Sie essenthey/you (formal) eat

If you want to listen to a native speaker conjugate the German verb “essen”, check out this video with Jacqueline:

“Essen” in the Present Perfect (Perfekt)

Are you ready to chat about all the delicious things you’ve eaten today or what you’ve decided to skip?

So, without further ado, let’s explore how the verb “essen” can be used in a sentence in the present perfect tense. “Essen” is used with the auxiliary verb “haben” in the perfect tense.

Wir haben viel gegessen! → We have eaten a lot!

Hast du noch nichts gegessen?! → Haven’t you eaten anything yet?!

Du hast heute keinen Nachtisch gegessen. → You didn’t eat any dessert today.

Ich habe heute eine ganze Tafel Schokolade gegessen. → I had an entire bar of chocolate today.

Let’s dive into the conjugation of “essen” in the present perfect tense. Don’t worry, once you get the hang of it, it’ll be a piece of cake!

Perfekt
ich habe gegessenI have eaten / I ate
du hast gegessenyou (informal) have eaten / you ate
er/sie/es hat gegessenhe/she/it has eaten / he ate
wir haben gegessenwe have eaten / we ate
ihr habt gegessenyou guys/you all have eaten / you ate
sie/Sie haben gegessenthey/you (formal) have eaten / they ate

“Essen” in the Simple Past (Präteritum)

For most verbs, you won’t use the German simple past in spoken language. Exceptions are the verbs “sein” and “haben” and modal verbs. Nevertheless, you’ll come across the German simple past forms in literature, storytelling, and newspapers.

Let’s see how you may encounter the simple past tense of “essen” when reading German books, stories, or articles:

Ich einen Salat. → I ate a salad.

Sie aßen abends immer bei ihren Großeltern. → At night, they always ate at their grandparents’ place.

Er das ganze Stück Kuchen. → He eat the entire piece of cake.

Now that you have a better idea of how you can use the verb “essen” in the simple past, let’s tackle its conjugation:

Präteritum
ich aßI ate
du aßestyou (informal) ate
er/sie/es aßhe/she/it ate
wir aßenwe ate
ihr aßtyou guys/you all ate
sie/Sie aßenthey/you (formal) ate

Ready for more? Let’s move on to the imperative tense!

“Essen” in the Imperative (Imperativ)

Let’s talk about the imperative, shall we? Just like in English, we use it every day to give instructions or orders. Take a look at these examples:

Iss dein Gemüse! → Eat your vegetables!

Esst nicht so schnell! → Don’t eat so fast, you guys!

Essen Sie bitte mehr Obst! → Please eat more fruit!

“Essen” in the Future I Tense (Futur I)

Creating the future tense in German is actually quite simple! All you have to do is conjugate the auxiliary verb “werden” and pair it with the infinitive form of the main verb. Let’s take a look at some examples to help you understand it better:

Wir werden später essen. → We will eat later.

Wirst du mit uns essen? → Will you eat with us?

Ich werde später nicht mit euch essen. → I will not eat with you guys later.

“Essen” in the Future II Tense (Futur II)

The Future II Tense is like a time machine, allowing you to discuss events that will be completed in the future.

But that’s not all – the Future II tense is also perfect for speculating about past events. It’s like having a crystal ball that lets you make educated guesses about what may have happened.

By using the conjugated form of “werden,” adding the past participle of the main verb, and including “haben” in the infinitive form, you can transport your conversations to a whole new level.

Check out these examples to see how it’s done:

Sie wird bis 19 Uhr gegessen haben. → She will have eaten by 7pm. (She is making a guess about what will happen in the future.)

Er wird die Kekse gegessen haben. → He will have eaten the cookies. (He is making a guess about what happened in the past.)

“Essen” in the Subjunctive Present (Konjunktiv II in der Gegenwart)

If you want to chat about hypothetical scenarios, share your culinary dreams, or speculate about future dining experiences, you’ll need to master the subjunctive present of the verb “essen”. Plus, it’s your go-to for making polite requests and asking those all-important courteous questions involving food!

How can we use the subjunctive present to spice up everyday conversations about food? Let’s delve into some German sentences:

Ich würde gern etwas Leckeres essen. → I would like to eat something delicious.

Sie würde gerne Sushi essen. → She would like to eat sushi.

Würden Sie heute Abend mit uns essen? → Would you eat with us tonight?

Würdest du gerne Pizza essen gehen? → Would you like to go out for pizza?

Now, let’s tackle the last step: memorizing the not-so-super-complicated conjugation of “essen” in the present subjunctive.

Konjunktiv II in der Gegenwart
ich würde essenI would eat
du würdest essenyou (informal) would eat
er/sie/es würde essenhe/she/it would eat
wir würden essenwe would eat
ihr würdet essenyou guys/you all would eat
sie, Sie würden essenthey/you (formal) would eat

“Essen” in the Subjunctive Past (Konjunktiv II in der Vergangenheit)

Imagine a scenario where you’re discussing meals you could have enjoyed, but didn’t. In German, we use the Subjunctive Past (Konjunktiv II in der Vergangenheit) for this purpose. It’s used to talk about dining experiences that will never actually come true. To create this structure, you’ll need to use the verb “haben” in the Subjunctive Present forms and add the past participle “gegessen”.

Konjunktiv II in der Vergangenheit with “essen”

Konjunktiv II in der Vergangenheit
ich hätte gegessenI would have eaten
du hättest gegessenyou (informal) would have eaten
er/sie/es hätte gegessenhe/she/it would have eaten
wir hätten gegessenwe would have eaten
ihr hättet gegessenyou guys/you all would have eaten
sie, Sie hätten gegessenthey/you (formal) would have eaten

Here are examples using “essen” in the subjunctive past:

Ich hätte gerne Sushi gegessen, wenn es frisch gewesen wäre. → I would have liked to eat sushi if it had been fresh.

In meinem Urlaub hätte ich gerne gesünder gegessen. → On my vacation, I would have liked to eat more healthy.

Hättest du das Dessert gegessen, wenn du nicht schon satt gewesen wärst? → Would you have eaten the dessert if you hadn’t been already full?

Wir hätten das Abendessen draußen gegessen, wenn es nicht geregnet hätte. → We would have eaten dinner outside if it hadn’t rained.

“Essen” in the Infinitive Form (Infinitiv)

When you want to talk about the future, all you have to do is conjugate the verb “werden” and pair it with the infinitive “essen”. Simple, isn’t it? Now, let’s dive into some examples to see how it all comes together:

Sie wird großen Hunger haben und viel essen. → She will be very hungry and eat a lot.

In combination with modal verbs, the infinitive “essen” is frequently used. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Du musst mehr Gemüse essen! → You have to eat more vegetables!

Wir dürfen nicht so viel Zucker essen. → We must not eat so much sugar.

Sie will kein Fleisch essen. → She doesn’t want to eat meat.

Ready to dive deeper? Explore additional ways to talk about eating food in German! Join Anna in this video for more insights:

Final Thoughts

The verb “essen” is absolutely essential in the German language. It’s used to talk about your eating habits, preferences, and dining plans.

Since “essen” is an irregular verb, you’ll need to commit its conjugated forms to memory across different verb tenses.

No worries! You can make learning easier by checking out examples and German texts, and by practicing with your own sentences. If you want some extra practice, our app can lend a hand! It has downloadable worksheets, quizzes, and even podcasts with native speakers having conversations about “essen.” With these resources, you’ll be on your way to mastering this super important German verb that’s all about delicious food!

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