Ich habe Hunger!

Ich habe Hunger! I am hungry!

…or rather, to make a direct translation, I have hunger! In German, you may also say Ich bin hungrig (literally, I am hungry), but Ich habe Hunger is certainly the more common of the two.

[Nerd alert: Note that the H in Hunger is capitalized – all nouns in German are capitalized always!  I’m beginning to see this slip away in informal, electronic situations like Twitter, Facebook, SMS/texts, and email, but the rule stands! Don’t forget!]

[Nerd alert pt. 2: If you are ever in a very old graveyard, like the churchyard at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, you will see that the English in many of the inscriptions retains the Germanic characteristic of capitalized nouns.]

Okay, so leaving orthography aside for now, let’s talk food. In German, the noun for food is das Essen. The verb to eat is essen. Maybe this is easier for some of you to remember, maybe it’s confusing (After all, in English we don’t “food the food,” or “eat the eat.”)

Essen is also the name of a city in Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)! For real!

Regardless, I think we can agree that Essen is a great name for a deli. On Madison Ave., between East 40th and East 41st, I stumbled across a take out place/deli called ESSEN. Actually, it’s called ‘ESSEN.

The apostrophe seemed inexplicable to me at the time, but now that I think about it, it may be an abbreviation of delicatessen. Be that as it may, I like to think of it being a very simply, very aptly named restaurant called “FOOD/EAT.” Isn’t that more fun?


das Essen – the food

essen – to eat (irregular/strong verbs)

Grammatik macht Spaß! (Grammar is fun!)

Irregular verbs are also sometimes known as strong verbs, while regular verbs, the ones that follow all the normal patterns, are called weak verbs. I find it easiest to remember this by thinking that regular verbs are shy weaklings who can’t stand up for themselves, so they just quietly go along with what the patterns want. Irregular, strong verbs are big bullies who say, “Forget you, patterns! I will do what I want!” And so they change their vowels and drop their endings and leave us all to learn a whole bunch of extra stuff. But I still love them.

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