What is a modal verb? - Modal auxiliaries
In German as well as in the English language, there are a group of verbs named modal verbs or modal auxiliaries. Modal verbs give more information about the main verb in a sentence. They describe the main verb in a range of possibility (may) to necessity (to have to). Therefore, the content of the sentence changes, if you are switching the modal verbs.There are six modal auxiliaries in the German language.
|können||to be able to, can (ability)||Fähigkeiten/ Möglichkeiten||Ich kann Auto fahren.|
|müssen||to have to, must (necessity)||Pflicht/ Notwendigkeit||Ich muss arbeiten.|
|dürfen||to be allowed to, may (permission)||Erlaubnis||Ich darf früher nach Hause.|
|sollen||to be supposed to, should (obligation)||Pflicht||Ich soll mein Zimmer aufräumen.|
|wollen||to want to (intention)||Wunsch/ Absicht||Ich will verreisen.|
|mögen||to like to (inclination), may (possibility)||Zuneigung||Ich mag das Reiten.|
Conjugation of German modal verbs (present tense)
The conjugation of modal verbs is irregular in the present tense singular, due to the fact that there are no endings in the first and third person. The plural forms are regular. Pay attention to the vowel change of modal verbs in the plural.
|er/ sie/ es||kann||muss||darf||soll||will||mag|
Examples of German modal verbs
The next sentences show you the usage of modal verbs in present tense
- Mama und Papa wollen am Wochenende in den Urlaub fahren. - Mom and dad want to go to vacation on the weekend.
- Er soll sein Zimmer aufräumen. - He is supposed to clean up his room.
- Sie kann Fahrrad fahren. - She is able to drive a bicycle.
- Du darfst bis 10 Uhr wach bleiben. - You are allowed to stay up to 10 pm.
Conjugation of German modal verbs (simple past)
There is no vowel change in the simple past, but the irregularity of the first and third person singular is existing,too.
|er/ sie/ es||konnte||musste||durfte||sollte||wollte||mochte|
Examples of German modal verbs in simple past
- Mama und Papa wollten in den Urlaub fahren. - Mom and dad wanted to go to vacation.
- Er sollte sein Zimmer aufräumen. - He was supposed to clean up my room.
- Sie konnte Fahrrad fahren. - She was able to drive a bicycle.
- Du durftest bis 10 Uhr wach bleiben. - You were allowed to stay up until 10 pm.
Completing this lesson you should understand the modal verbs and their conjugation. Explore our exercises to train you skills.
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