"Das Mädchen isst ein Hähnchen."
We shouldn't be translating word for word. In English, "The girl is eating chicken" is the correct way to say it, unless the girl is eating a whole, live chicken.
Apparently she is! The difference is just the same in German. If she is just eating (some) chicken, you would also say "das Mädchen isst Hähnchen" - without the article.
It wouldn't have to be live. A small roast chicken is a reasonably sized meal for one person. Saying she's eating a chicken would be the right way to distinguish this from a case where she's eating various pieces of chicken.
Why does the translation say the girl is "having" chicken in the answer, but says she is eating chicken in the translation?
It's not a misspelling, both words are correct. The one comes from the male chicken: "der Hahn - das Hähnchen" and the other from the female chicken: "das Huhn - das Hühnchen".
I think we use "Hühnchen" as a general word for chicken, for example when something contains chicken or comes with chicken etc. ... but we say Hähnchenschenkel (chicken drumsticks) or Grillhähnchen (grilled chicken). Though... for chicken salad I'd rather say "Hühnersalat". Hm.
To make the confusion perfect, I think I have to add that the female chicken is also called "die Henne", just like the "hen" in English. Sorry if it seems complicated.. you can stick with "Hühnchen" in case you're confused, people will understand. =)
Thanks for the explanation, I had always thought it was a dialect or some kind of variation, now is rather clear.. I can eat my Hühnerkebab or Halbhähnchen with peace, no more wondering anymore!
Yep, apparently. Hey, German girls can do that! :D
Maybe the sentence should rather be "Das Mädchen isst ein halbes Hähnchen." (half a chicken). ...but then it wouldn't rhyme that nicely! ;)
as with other comments: this sentence implies that she is eating a whole chicken...awkward translation