https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyLarks

"Fressen" and "essen"

Hello! I saw from some exercises that both "fressen" and "essen" mean "to eat". What is the difference between these verbs? Is "fressen" used only for animals or "essen" for humans? Thank you very much for answers and explanations!

February 20, 2016

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/person243

essen = to eat in a civilised/human manner

fressen = to eat in an uncivilised/animalic manner

It is not important who performs the both, but the way how it is done. There is no definite border inbetween.

I hope I could be of help.

February 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Have a look at the tips and notes for the "Animals 1" skill: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Animals-1

Read the tips and notes. Love the tips and notes. If you use the app to learn Duolingo, then at least open the tips and notes in a web browser before you start a skill even if you don't use the browser to actually study the skill. Lots of time has been spent on them to help learners :)

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeutschLearner_

You're spot on! I remember it as "people essen, and animals fressen" :) (unless you're insulting someone where you might use fressen)

February 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

That is how I got it from a native speaker too: Menschen essen, Tiere fressen. I am careful not to mix these two up until I get a much better knowledge of German.

February 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Windrammer

Fressen is often used for animals, but can also be used for humans.

February 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hauptmann_J

When talking about humans, isn't the difference between essen and fressen similar to the difference in English of to eat (to take into the mouth, chew and swallow for nourishment) and to devour (to swallow or eat up hungrily, voraciously, or ravenously)?

February 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/person243

I would translate "devour" with "verschlingen"/"verzehren". As you know words can have different strength to themself. "wonderful" is stronger than "good". "devour" is definitly stronger than "fressen". Maybe "fressen" and "essen" are on one step. "fressen" just has a negative tone to it or animals do it.

I hope I could be of help.

February 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DogePamyuPamyu

Fressen is used for animals and essen is used for humans.

Just for extra explanation... "halt die Fresse!" (shut your mouth) and "auffressen" (to eat up) are used for humans but you can see that the first one is referencing animals as an insult and the second is referencing animals to convey the idea of eating like an animal.

So yeah you're exactly right. Think maybe of fressen as "to feed upon" because in English generally only animals feed upon things and humans eat things, so... :P

February 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MultiLinguAlex

I beg to differ. Both humans and animals can "fressen" and "essen"!

As long as animals are concerned, we allow "fressen" as main translation and "essen" as alternative translation. And person243 gave a great answer what "fressen" means as far as humans are concerned. Since "Der Mann frisst" is pretty uncivilized and coarse, we don't allow "fressen" as a translation for "to eat", but "fressen" can be used for humans as well. "to eat like a pig" is a good translation for "fressen"/"wie ein Schwein fressen".

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Portofan

But for an animal no one would ever use "essen", it sounds very strange, at least when a particular animal is referred to:

Die Katze isst ihr Dosenfutter. - Nö... Die Kuh isst Heu - näh... Der Hund hat seinen Napf leergegessen... nope.

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jjd1123

Actually, many people do in fact use "essen" for their pets, especially if they're rather small and cute. I've definitely heard people use it for cats and hamsters, for example.

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DogePamyuPamyu

That's what I wrote in the second paragraph, or at least what I tried to add. It isn't black and white, there's some gray, but generally speaking there's a difference.

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoveK1969

Yep, "essen" for humans, "fressen" for animals. After that, the use varies according to specific persons or situations, because, well, languages are organic and always keep evolving. All the examples that have been expressed above are true, but they could be described more as variations on the rule rather than the rule itself.

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kubelnaby

in the past some jerks used to call Italian immigrants in Germany "Spaghettifresser" (just like some idiots in italy would call Germans "crucchi", more or less "people that eat stuff that tastes like crap"). i'm writing this not to quibble of course, but simply because i think it is interesting under a sociolinguistic point of view.

February 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyLarks

Danke everyone for your input! Now I understand, "fressen" is for animals and (uncivilized gobbling) for humans, and "essen" is for humans! Danke!

February 28, 2016
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