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What is the difference between "gern" and "gerne"? When should each be used?

An example I used in a previous question was:

Ich esse gern Pizza

is that better or worse than:

Ich esse gerne Pizza

Is there a difference in meaning?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There is no difference between the two forms in meaning, and they are interchangeable in usage. The dictionary typically even lists them as "gern(e)" rather than as separate entries.

The original form from Old High German down through Middle High German, as Duden and others indicate, was "gerne". The form "gern" is just an example of how often the final "-e" gets dropped from German words in casual usage, and some people may consider it a little more colloquial.

The usage between the two is more of a feeling or the way it sounds in the sentence or circumstance rather than a grammatical requirement. Perhaps you want to say "gerne" to really emphasize something, or perhaps just "gern" with a sense of finality. As you become more familiar with German, you will get a better feel for its rhythm and rhyme and what sounds better to your ears. The choice is yours.

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+1 - for me, it's mostly about the rhythm. –  Jan Mar 9 '12 at 14:12

I would put it into the category of shortening a word, especially in spoken language, in the same way as you could say

Ich hab frei

instead of

Ich habe frei

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1  
I wonder, though, why the abbrevation "habe" usually followed by an apostroph, like in "Ich hab' frei", while for "gerne" you never read "Ich möchte gern' heimfahren". –  TheBlastOne Mar 8 '12 at 16:03
    
@TheBlastOne: In my experience "hab" is not followed by an apostrophe in everyday use (which makes sense, since this would defy the purpose of making the word shorter). –  0x6d64 Mar 9 '12 at 8:48

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