I recently received an email in German in which the writer replied gerne geschehen, a standard response when somebody has thanked you for something. I often hear this phrase in spoken German, but usually as gern geschehen, without the -e after gern. The adverbs gern and gerne have the same meaning, usually translated as "gladly" or "like," so how do we know which one to use in which contexts?
The answer is very simple: you can use both interchangeably. The original Old German word, from which our modern usage originates, is gerno. This eventually became the modern German word gerne. Even as recently as 20 or so years ago, teachers may have admonished students for using gern instead of gerne in their written German. But eventually, the language as it is spoken began to have an impact on what was considered correct usage, and with time, the dropping of the extra syllable -e allowed for the word to be accepted on equal footing as either gerne or gern: they are, for all intents and purposes, the same word!
Let's take a look at some examples of gern and gerne being used in a spoken context on Yabla German:
Ich würde gern mit dir in einer Altbauwohnung wohnen.
I would like to live with you in an apartment in an old building.
Caption 7, AnnenMayKantereit: 3. Stock
Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren.
I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons.
Caption 10, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern
Ich würde in der Tat gern wissen, wie groß das Team ist, mit dem ich dann zusammenarbeite.
In fact, I would like to know how big the team is that I would be working with.
Captions 48-49, Eva erklärt: Bewerbungen
Danke, aber Sie dürfen mich gerne duzen.
Thanks, but you can gladly address me informally.
Caption 36, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung
Wir würden gern mal auf Deutschlandtournee gehen.
We would like to tour Germany.
Caption 34, 3nach9: Ehrlich Brothers, Show-Magier
Die kannst du gerne haben.
You can gladly have them.
Caption 26: JoNaLu: Der Piratenschatz
Take a look at these interesting articles about gerne and gern at Tandem Göttingen, German with Nicole, and the Zwiebelfisch series at Der Spiegel magazine. You can also search Yabla German for other examples of gerne and gern being used in conversations. In a forthcoming lesson, we'll discuss the the difference between gerne and mag!