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  5. Tiere: essen oder fressen?


Tiere: essen oder fressen?

I remember learning at school that the verb 'fressen' is used when talking about animals eating, not 'essen'. That's obviously not true, as 'essen' is used in these lessons.

January 8, 2012



I think "fressen" is closer to our word for "feeding." As in, the cat is feeding on some dead thing.


My Oma made fun of me when I said "essen" in reference to a dog. So use it at your own risk with animals.


It seems your Grandma was an educated German speaker. Some others are not.


All beeings eat. Germans transferred eating, "essen", to be the eating with fork, knife, spoon. To seperate that "dining" from the raw act of eating, they added "fr" to "essen" for all animals.

"Fressen" is also used if someone's eating like an animal or very hungry.


That's not the proper etymology. The root of this word existed in Germanic languages mother of the German too.

They didn't add anything to «essen», that's a separate root, with a different meaning. https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/german-fressen.3290846/


Tiere fressen und manchmal essen. Wir essen weil wir Menshcen sind. =)


No, you are right. If you say "ein Mensch frisst" it is meant as an isult (p.e. for bad table manners) and animals do normally "fressen" although "essen" may also be used for animals. The lessons are a bit loose at times...


Halt die Fresse for example is an insult, the same than "halts maul", it's like shut up. In spanish it would be like "el animal está hartando" or "cerra el ocico".


No, that's not true, it's an insult only when applied to humans. For animal, it's the normal verb. It's only like «el animal está comiendo».


I thought the same thing too but after some research it appears that you should really use "fressen" when referring to animals eating but you may use "essen" if they are particularly cute animals or eating very delicately (ie. a kitten). This thread was really helpful. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1255927

I'm enjoying duolingo but there are a few things that are not quite right if you have prior knowledge of German / know slang German.


Fressen is 'eating like a pig' (wel at least it is in Dutch, so I supose it means something like that in German too)


Only if it's applied to an human being.


Good point! Let me explain this. We are currently teaching only the German verb "essen" at this point in the tree. Thus, you will only see "essen" in the display sentence. We may add "fressen" as a lexeme that we can teach in the next tree version. Beware though that the English word would still be "essen" (i.e. "Der Hund frisst" = "The dog is eating"), and only if the action is performed by an animal, "fressen" should be an acceptable translation.

So to keep context-dependent translations and ambiguity low at this point in the tree, we are teaching "essen". And it is really okay to use "essen" for when an animal is eating. Germans will understand it.


You really should not teach wrong German in order to keep "ambiguity low" - it's the wrong way to go. The German tree of DL is a collection of ugly grammatical mistakes, stupid gibberish, and stilted unnatural expressions. And I think this has to do with the "Germans-will-understand-it"-philosphy. They won't and nobody should.


Because they think we are too stupid to learn proper grammar since the beginning?


@Julika That's not true, the other German course, teach as a normal teacher woul do, in a classroom, the difference between essen and fressen

This is not as it was a very difficult point, hard to understand... There's no point in teaching wrong things, grammatical errors, only because it's a beginners courses!

I noticed that the standard is lowering in Duolingo, in many courses, that's really sad.

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