I just learned about this verb and that it means you are eating breakfast so that there is no need to use the word essen or a form of sein or haben. In English we would typically say I am eating breakfast or I am having breakfast and would rarely just say I am breakfasting so I find this German verb interesting. Though there are probably more examples of this type that I just don't know about yet.

Can I ask how native speakers might employ this verb in a longer sentence and if it is just used in the short way 'ich frühstücke' as is?

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    I am not quite sure what exactly your questions are. 1) Why do you think the usage of this verb would be special in a longer sentence? 2) Do you want to know whether “Ich frühstücke.” is actually a valid and idiomatic sentence?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 8 '15 at 17:30
  • 1. Oddish verb for non-German speakers and I am simply curious abut it. Interested in knowing how native speakers might implement this verb in a longer sentence or in another, quirkier way, especially since it relates to food. 2. Correct. I think most people would understand my questions. I hate spelling things out to death but just added this comment to reply and be helpful.
    – cheznead
    Nov 8 '15 at 18:16
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    Thank you for your clarification. Note that I am not nagging you for such details and precision for their own sakes. Knowing where your doubts comes from helps us to better answer your question. Keep in mind that many potential answerers are native speakers, to whom frühstücken is usually just like any other verb.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 8 '15 at 18:39
  • in English it would have to be “I am breaking fast”.
    – Carsten S
    Mar 3 '17 at 20:56

The meaning of »frühstücken« is in long sentences the same as in short sentences.

Ich frühstücke.
I’m having breakfast.

Gestern habe ich länger geschlafen und habe daher erst am Nachmittag gefrühstückt.
Yesterday I’ve been sleeping longer and so I had my breakfast in the afternoon.

Another verb that is used the same way as »frühstücken« is »jausnen«.

noun: Das Frühstück (the breakfast) → verb: frühstücken (to have breakfast)
noun: Die Jause (the snack) → verb: jausnen (to have a snack)

As far as I know, the noun »Jause« is rarely used in most parts of Germany, so also the verb »jausnen« might be unknown in Germany. But in Austria it is well known.

  • 7
    Make that "in most parts" - not just in the northern ones, please.
    – Stephie
    Nov 8 '15 at 18:36
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    @ Hubert Schölnast : Please, "jausnen" is also unknown in Bavaria. You can't extrapolate from Austria the whole German speaking world. Without experience in other parts there one might give not so correct answers.
    – Karl
    Nov 8 '15 at 19:04
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    @Karl Indeed, especially when it comes to eating and food, Austria is very different from Germany, even Bavaria, see for instance the Chefkoch dictionary, which is but one among many.
    – Crissov
    Nov 8 '15 at 19:29
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    Jausnen? Jause? Never heard of it in Hesse. Nov 9 '15 at 5:22
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    Ich habe es korrigiert. Sorry, aber es ist nicht einfach abzuschätzen, wie weit außerhalb des eigenen Lebensraums ein Begriff verbreitet ist. Deutsche, die nach Österreich kommen haben ja dasselbe Problem: Sie verwenden viele Begriffe, die für sie alltäglich sind, die in Österreich aber nicht oder nur selten verwendet werden, ohne zu wissen, dass diese Wörter hierzulande unüblich sind. Wirklich unbekannt sind solche Teutonismen in Österreich aber nicht, weil wir Österreich dem deutschen Deutsch durch Bücher, Zwitschriften und deutsches Fernsehen weit stärker ausgesetzt sind, als umgekehrt. Nov 9 '15 at 7:24

From the meaning it is a bit difficult to construct longer sentences. Two examples nevertheless:

  • Ich frühstücke gerne ausgiebig: mit Tee, Orangensaft, frischen Brötchen, Rührei und Speck.
  • Unter der Woche habe ich keine Zeit zu frühstücken, da muss eine Tasse Kaffee reichen.

It’s really hard to see what seems to be so special about frühstücken, because it is really just a verb like many others, for a close relation to a noun (or adjective) is not unusual at all – in German and English. The English verb breakfast, derived from the noun (and without have or eat), is also well attested, in particular.

frühstücken is never split, so this is ungrammatic, not least because *stücken is not a lexicalised verb:

  • * Ich stücke früh.

It may be used without adverbs and objects much of the time, but doesn’t have to:

  • Ich frühstücke meistens Müsli.
    (qualitative adverb and accusative object)
  • In unserer Familie frühstücken wir jeden Morgen gemeinsam.
    (locative, temporal and modal adverbial phrases)
  • Treffen wir uns Sonntag zum Frühstücken?
    (nominalised, also possible: … Frühstück?)
  • Wenn ich nicht richtig gefrühstückt habe, bin ich zu nichts zu gebrauchen.
  • Opa verfrühstückt unser Erbe.
    (as derivative base, here with metaphoric meaning ‘to squander’)

There is absolutely nothing special about frühstücken. What maybe surprises you – and from the wording of the question (concretely “so that there is no need to use the word essen or a form of sein or haben”) I deduce you still don’t know it – is that there is no exact -ing-analogue, i.e. gerund, in German.

So, you feel like that because one cannot use the verb frühstücken with sein or haben in present (not this, not any other verb) at all.

  • 2
    @cheznead: please note that we do encourage non-native speakers to contribute with answers. In case they struggle with orthography or grammar we all try to help making their answer better. It is common sense to do that with an edit (also see this related post). In many cases non-natives may have a better approach to specific issues a learner may have than native speakers.
    – Takkat
    Nov 19 '15 at 12:27
  • Not in this case @Takkat as others gave better answers. What c.p. wrote as an 'answer' amounts to what should be a comment. Furthermore, I have had old questions suddenly downvoted after I downvoted this answer by c.p. They have also gone to another question of mine and edited it only to make incorrect changes. This is unacceptable and I am leaving this forum.
    – cheznead
    Nov 20 '15 at 12:11
  • 2
    Editing our own posts and posts of other people is one thing what makes us different to an internet forum. All Stack Exchange Q & A sites are mainly driven not by single users but by us, the community. By this we may be closer to a Wiki than to a forum. This also is an important source of our success. Here is more information on our model.
    – Takkat
    Nov 20 '15 at 13:06

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