This is bothering me. I am learning German whilst living in Germany. I have heard people say things like "ich war reisen" and "wir waren frühstücken" and I cannot fit this sentence into the grammar that I have learned. It looks much closer to English than I am used to with German (I was travelling, we were eating breakfast...). I have tried to skip ahead my grammar learning to see where this construction fits, but I can't find anything.

There's also this question here:

Are sentences such as “wir waren essen” grammatically correct?

But it doesn't actually answer the question. It says it's not correct, but if it's not correct why do I keep hearing it? And why can't I find any grammar identifying this feature of the German language? Is it new, perhaps somehow due to English influence (since it looks like English)? Is there an authoritative grammar somewhere that explains this feature?

And does this apply to other auxiliary verbs? "Wir haben essen"? "Wir werden essen"? If so under what circumstances are they also correct and what are their meanings?

  • 1
    I think the cited answer which has been accepted, is not correct. Other answers are IMHO better. Comments below this answer (see german.stackexchange.com/questions/2906/… and german.stackexchange.com/questions/2906/…) and other answers clarify the meaning.
    – Bodo
    Apr 26, 2022 at 13:16
  • The construction "Wir waren + Verb." means "We were somewhere doing something." with the "something" specified but the location unspecified. "Wir haben essen" is wrong, "Wir haben gegessen" is correct (that's simply Perfekt tense). "Wir werden essen." is just future tense.
    – user6495
    Apr 26, 2022 at 13:53
  • OK but is it wrong if I keep hearing people say it? "Wir haben gefrüstuckt" is indeed correct according to the grammar that I have learned. And yet I hear people say stuff like "wir waren frühstucken". For what it's worth, the people I've heard say this are educated and from different parts of Germany (i.e. it can't be just some local dialect).
    – rooms
    Apr 26, 2022 at 14:30
  • 1
    "Wir waren frühstücken." is completely correct grammar, see german.stackexchange.com/a/22337/6495 for an explanation (and the Wikipedia entry linked in a comment under that answer).
    – user6495
    Apr 26, 2022 at 14:38
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Are sentences such as “wir waren essen” grammatically correct?
    – Carsten S
    May 3, 2022 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


It is correct, yet informal; however unlike "Wir aßen" as a response to "Was habt ihr gemacht / What did you do?", "Wir waren essen" is typically a response to "Wo wart ihr / Where have you been?".

Also note that 'frühstücken' and 'gefrühstückt' are both written with two Ü's.

Edit: Corrected the Eszett as pointed out below.


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