I am writing an invitation to a party in my home, and want to say something like "we will serve fruit" (or steak, etc.). The goal is to set some kind of expectations for how much food will be available. (It's a kid birthday party and I don't know the people I am inviting particularly well, though I see them frequently and wish them well.)

What verb for "serve" can I use? Everything around "dienen" feels very servicey-bureaucratic; everything around "anbieten" feels very Angebot-commercial. Am I smelling this right? Any suggestions for how to phrase this?

  • It simply is servieren. That answer may seem stupid but it's the core meaning of that word in German. An old-fashinoned alternative is auftragen. For beer, wine and other alkoholic drinks, it's ausschenken. But the informal way is to say and write Es kommt X auf den Tisch. and similar phrases. They are perfectly okay.
    – Janka
    Feb 27 '17 at 0:16
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    Weniger formal wäre "Es wird Kuchen und Obst geben." "Servieren" klingt für einen Kindergeburtstag schon reichlich feierlich - oder gibt es die Steaks/Früchte für die Eltern? "Wir werden den Kindern x und y anbieten" ist schon o.k. Für dienen sehe ich keine Chance: "Wir dienen uns Ihren Kindern mit schicken Häppchen an." Feb 27 '17 at 0:41
  • @Janka: Did you mean that "ausschenken" is also old-fashioned? It feels (to my very nonnative ear) so precious, like we are so pleased to be gifting out our drinks to you.
    – sibilant
    Feb 27 '17 at 21:52
  • Wir tragen X auf is old-fashioned in any context. Wir schenken X aus is either very formal or old-fashioned, too.
    – Janka
    Feb 27 '17 at 22:45
  • 1
    @Janka: To me, servieren has the strong connotation of serving at the place where one eats. I wouldn't even use servieren in a posh restaurant referring to the food on a buffet, while auftragen may work. Thus, servieren seems unfitting for a birthday party that likely does without anything like a "waiter". Feb 28 '17 at 6:22

Your conjecture that "servieren" or "anbieten" don't work in such a context is correct. For dishes that you prepare in advance, I would use the impersonal form "es gibt ...", say, "Es gibt Kuchen" or "Es gibt Bratwurst und Kartoffelsalat". For dishes that are prepared during the party, you can alternatively use "wir + present tense", say, "Wir machen Crepes" or "Wir grillen".


You could also say

Es wird Obst und Kuchen geben


Wir haben Obst und Kuchen (vorbereitet)

Or something along the lines of:

Wir laden ein zum Kindergeburtstag mit Obst und Kuchen

  • 5
    Agreed, except that I find future tense in the first sentence non-idiomatic. "Es gibt Obst und Kuchen" sounds a lot more natural.
    – Uwe
    Feb 27 '17 at 9:48
  • Imho only the fuuture tense is correct. I do agree though that colloquially the present tense would be accepted by most.
    – Burki
    Feb 27 '17 at 9:51
  • 2
    "Wenn Karolin Geburtstag hat, gibt es Kakao und Kuchen..." Feb 27 '17 at 13:23
  • 4
    @Burki In linguistics, correctness is defined by actual usage, not by abstract rules, in particular not by abstract rules stemming from another language. There are languages where future tense is consistently used to describe future events – German is not one of them. In general, native German speakers do not use future tense if it is clear from the context that something happens in the future: "Wann kommst Du?" "Im Juli habe ich Urlaub." "Dann bin ich leider auf Dienstreise."
    – Uwe
    Feb 27 '17 at 13:50
  • 3
    @Burk: aber auch im Schriftdeutschen wird das Futur nur selten verwendet.
    – Gerhard
    Feb 27 '17 at 14:09

You could write

Für Essen wird/ist gesorgt! (Steak, Obst ...)


An Essen könnt/dürft ihr Folgendes erwarten: Steak, Obst ...


Wer Appetit mitbringt, darf Folgendes erwarten: Steak, Obst ...


Regarding your example: "we will serve fruit and steak".

You can use a direct translation, which is servieren:

Wir servieren Obst und Steak.

or, to maintain the tense (which sounds a little bit less colloquial):

Wir werden Obst und Steak servieren.

But this still sounds very formal. If you are not a restaurant (you are not, as you are inviting to a party at your home), I'd go with this:

Es gibt Obst und Steak.

This reverse-translates to "There is fruit and steak", which is just fine in German. If you want to stress that there is plenty, you can add "genug" or even better "satt":

Es gibt Obst und Steak satt.

I'd definitely attend if I read the last sentence. ;-)

  • 3
    In the context of a kid's birthday, "servieren" is way to formal. "servieren" is what the waiter does in a restaurant. Feb 27 '17 at 13:40
  • 1. Why the downvote? 2. No-one said anything about a kids party. Anyway, my answer reflects that "servieren" is very formal.
    – Ben
    Feb 28 '17 at 6:31
  • Totally agree that the downvotes (there were two) were excessive! But the fact that it's a kid bday party is mentioned in the question.
    – sibilant
    Feb 28 '17 at 8:24
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    The question clearly states: "It's a kid birthday party". And in that context I consider "servieren" as a clear mistranslation. That's why I downvote your answer to signalize to other users that it is not a correct answer. Don't find that very excessive but rather in the logic of SE. Feb 28 '17 at 10:02

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