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  5. "Wir haben Brot."

"Wir haben Brot."

Translation:We have bread.

January 27, 2013

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I put 'We are having bread.' Why is that wrong?


Doesn't the progressive aspect change the meaning of the sentence?

1) We have bread. (= We possess bread)

2) We're having bread. (= We're eating bread.)

In German, "haben" is only used in the sense of 1).


If that's the case, how does one say "We are having bread" in German?


I think what Katherle means is that if you say 'We are having bread' it actually means 'We are eating bread', therefore you need to use a different verb.


I asked a German friend of mine. Her reply was:

"If you are talking about eating bread then yes, you'll have to use 'Wir essen Brot'. 'Wir haben Brot' is more like we've got bread. 'We are having bread' doesn't make sense in German if you are trying to say you are eating bread. 'haben' basically means that you've got something."

So I guess a good rule of thumb going forward is to assume literal translations always and avoid any sort of idiom, nomatter how apparent the meaning may seem.


Having, by default in English, is not necessarily eating. If one were to be setting a table and someone asks what's for dinner, one could say "We are having cheese and bread for dinner." This implies we may in the future eat what is for dinner, but ultimately 'having' is determined by context. Technically, "We are having bread" is a correct translation, but maybe the app should clarify the more proper meaning than giving a straight wrong in response.


The German verb "haben" can neither mean "eating something" nor "planning to eat something". "Wir haben Brot" means that we have got a supply of bread, e.g. in a cupboard. The sentence has nothing to do with what you are doing or planning to do with your bread.

As Standard German doesn't have the distinction between the progressive and simple aspects (I do vs. I am doing), you can normally use both English translations interchangeably, or, to be more precise: interchangeably in the context-free sentences on Duolingo. That is not the case with some stative verbs like "to have", which change their meaning in English when they are used in the progressive aspect.


In other words, if we stop and think about it, "We are having bread" is not really the progressive of "We have bread," but an idiom that means either "We are eating bread" or "We are going to have bread available for eating." An excellent illustration of how studying a foreign language helps you to better understand your own!


I agree! And so far on all the other verbs the current and progressive forms (maybe those are the wrong terms, but I mean "eat"/"are eating", "drink"/"are drinking", etc.) have been treated as completely interchangeable. But I think what is probably the case is that even "having ... for dinner" may be more of an idiom than a directly translatable phrase--plus it changes the sense from truly present to future. It would certainly sound awkward to say "We are having bread in our cupboard"--but taken as a phrase out of context, it would help to have an explanation. It's not as if we translated the sentence as "We are eating bread" instead of "We have bread."


Same question: Why is "We are having bread." wrong?


That's "Wir essen Brot" (We are having(eating) bread). Having and have are completely different things and I think English is the only language where "having" can be used for "eating".


Yes, I agree. "having bread" and "We have bread" have different meanings in English. One time when I was having supper at some people's house, the woman took a piece of bread and handed it to me, saying, "Have another piece of bread.You're eating for two" and laughed (which was a big lie, but that's beside the point) In this case, she meant that she wanted me to eat another piece of bread.

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