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Which of the following is correct and why? I have seen both of these examples used.

Was möchten Sie essen?
Was möchten Sie zu essen?

Thanks!

1

You both questions are corresponding with this statements:

  1. Michael möchte etwas essen.
  2. Michael möchte etwas zu essen.

Both versions are correct, as well as both of your questions.

The first sentence means, that Michael wants to do something. The semantic focus is on the action. The action is: Eating. That Michael wants food is a logical conclusion, but not the sentences main expression.

In the second sentence the semantic focus is on the food with which Michaels wants to do something. Of course, the action that he wants to do with the food is eating, but this is just the logical conclusion. The sentence says, that Michael wants food.

About your questions:

Both questions ask for the food, which automatically moves the semantic focus to it. So at the end, both questions mean the same. But still both versions are grammatical correct and stylistic ok.

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