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Deutschen Modalverben – German modal verbs II: müssen, sollen, wollen Posted by on Sep 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today I’d like to continue with German modal verbs. In my previous post I introduced you the modal verbs dürfen, können, and möchten. This time we will have a look at the three remaining modals müssen, sollen, and wollen.

Modal verbs are a type of modifiers because they change the meaning of a sentence a little bit.

 

müssen

The modal verb müssen expresses NECESSITY or OBLIGATION. It can be translated with ‘must’ or ‘to have to’. Compare the sentences below.

 

Wir gehen jetzt. – We are going now.

Wir müssen jetzt gehen. – We must go now. / We have to go now.

 

Sie bereitet sich auf eine Prüfung vor. – She prepares for an examination. / She is preparing for an examination.

Sie muss sich auf eine Prüfung vorbereiten. – She must prepare for an examination. / She has to prepare for an examination.

 

In negative sentences müssen does not convey the meaning of prohibition. In negative sentences nicht müssen means ‘don’t have to’ or ‘don’t need to’.

 

Du musst dir keine Sorgen machen. – You don’t have to worry. / You don’t need to worry.

Ihr müsst noch nicht gehen. – You don’t have to go now. / You don’t need to go now.

 

sollen

The modal verb sollen expresses OBLIGATION and COMMANDS. It can be translated with ‘should’ and ‘to be supposed to’.

 

Ich zahle die Rechnung. – I pay the bill.

Ich soll die Rechnung zahlen. – I am supposed to pay the bill.

 

Ich rufe dich an. – I will call you.

Soll ich dich anrufen? – Should I call you?

 

The modal verb sollen can also be used to convey the idea of UNCERTAINTY, that is to say, when you make prediction about the future or when you are reporting what somebody else told you.

 

Morgen soll es regnen. – Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Er soll wieder geheiratet haben. – They say he’s got married again.

 

wollen

Like möchte, the modal verb wollen expresses INTENTION or DESIRE. It corresponds to the English ‘to want to’.

 

Ich will mit dem Rauchen aufhören. / Ich möchte mit dem Rauchen aufhören. – I want to stop smoking.

 

Sabine will auswandern. / Sabine möchte auswandern. – Sabine wants to emigrate.

 

Below is a table where you can find all conjugated forms of müssen, sollen, and können in the present tense.

 

müssen

sollen

wollen

ich(I)

muss

soll

will

Du(you; sgl. informal)

musst

sollst

willst

Sie(you; sgl. formal)

müssen

sollen

wollen

er/sie/es(he/she/it)

muss

soll

will

wir(we)

müssen

sollen

wollen

Ihr(you; pl. informal)

müsst

sollt

wollt

Sie(you; pl, formal)

müssen

sollen

wollen

sie(they)

müssen

sollen

wollen

 

Exercise: Now, it’s your turn again. Use your chance and exercise your new aquired knowledge. Fill in the correct form of the modal verb in the present tense. You will find the infinitives in parentheses.

 

1. Mein Großvater _______ ins Krankenhaus. (müssen)

2. Wann ______ Du nach Hause? (müssen)

3. Er _________ immer Recht haben. (wollen)

4. Du ______ nicht lügen. (sollen)

5. Wir ________ noch einkaufen gehen. (müssen)

6. Andrea und Stefanie ________ unbedingt nach Spanien fliegen. (wollen)

7. Wir _______ jetzt leider gehen. (müssen)

 

 

(key: 1-muss; 2-müsst; 3-will; 4-sollst; 5-müssen; 6-wollen; 7-müssen)

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


Comments:

  1. leila Aryan:

    i thank you hundrred times for posting these usful german tips in grammar and vocabulary with the help of these information i m really learning german i used to take german classes b4 but i had to quit bcuz of problems i thank you again

  2. henry:

    Could you make the “previous post” in this post a link so we can just click to get to it?

    Thanks.

  3. Soraya:

    thanks for the last two posts! i always wanted to clear these verbs up but didn’t know where/how to start.