Essen German Conjugation

Instructor: Chelsea Schuyler
In this lesson, we will learn all about how to conjugate the irregular verb meaning to eat. This is an important verb that opens up conversation for food preferences and dining experiences.

Let's Dig In!

When you think of German food, you might immediately think of sausage and sauerkraut. While Germany does boast over 1,500 varieties of Wurst (sausage), it would be incorrect to think of it as their only signature food. Germany has a long and rich food history, a good deal of which has carried over to the United States. From hamburgers, deviled eggs and soft pretzels to hundreds of varieties of breads and pastries, there are lots of delicious adventures to be had there.

Essen (to eat)

The verb essen (to eat) is used very similarly as in English:

  • What do you like to eat?
  • Should we go out to eat?
  • I eat lunch at 11:30.
  • I don't eat red meat.
  • The kids are eating too much candy.

Let's take a look now at the verb essen (pronounced: ES-in) conjugated in the present tense, which indicates that the eating is taking place in the here and now:

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning Example Translation
ich esse ish ES-uh I eat Ich esse Müsli zum Frühstuck. I eat granola for breakfast.
du isst doo ist you eat (singular familiar) Isst du oft Süßigkeiten? Do you often eat sweets?
er isst air ist he eats Er isst nur gesudes Essen. He only eats healthy foods.
sie isst zee ist she eats Sie isst gern Fisch. She likes to eat fish.
es isst es ist it eats Es isst gefräßig. It is eating voraciously.
wir essen vear ES-in we eat Wir essen um sechs Uhr. We are eating at 6:00.
ihr esst ear est you eat (plural familiar) Wann esst ihr? When do you eat?
sie essen zee ES-in they eat Sie essen immer zusammen. They always eat together.
Sie essen zee ES-in you eat (formal) Essen Sie italienisch? Do you eat Italian?

You may have noticed that essen is irregular. It is a stem vowel changing verb. The e changes to i in the second person (du form) and third person (er/sie/es form).

Translation: I am eating a curried sausage for lunch.


Listen in as Bettina asks her friends (Thomas, Maya, and Jens) what they like to eat. Notice how the verb essen is used:

Bettina: Was esst ihr gern? (What do you like to eat?)

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