German Modal Verbs

German Modal Verbs are, for example: wollen, sollen, müssen.

In English they are: would, can, could, may, might, must, shall, should and will.
They can never function as a main verb by themselves.

Modal Verbs are used together with a main verb to add extra meaning to a sentence.
This added meaning is not given by the main verb. In German this is similar.

Ich möchte einen Kaffee trinken.  ( I like to drink a coffee.)
is the modal verb and trinken is the main verb, which is used in the infintive form.

Rule: A modal verb goes together with a main verb unless the meaning (context) is clear.
In this case you can omit the main verb trinken and just say:
Ich möchte einen Kaffee.(trinken)

mehr Beispiele (more examples):

Norbert      kann     im Zimmer       fernsehen.      Norbert can watch television in the room.
Bob            will        in die Stadt      fahren.             Bob wants to drive to town.
Wo             kann      ich ein Buch    kaufen?          Where can I buy a book?

The position of the Modal Verb is green.

The main Verb always goes to the end of a sentence.

In German there are six Modal Verbs.
These are:
dürfen, mögen, müssen, können, sollen, wollen
Study them below, this will help you a lot!

dürfen - be allowed, permitted

ich darf                           I may (am permitted)
ich durfte                        I was allowed
ich habe gedurft            I was allowed

du darfst                         you may
du durftest                      you were allowed
du hast gedurft              you were allowed

er/sie darf                      he/she may
er/sie durfte                   he/she was allowed
er/sie hat gedurft           he/she was allowed

wir/Sie/sie dürfen                we/you/they may
wir/Sie/sie durften               we/you/they were allowed
wir/Sie/sie haben gedurft   we/you/they were allowed

ihr dürft                                you (pl.) may
ihr durftet                             you (pl.) were allowed
ihr habt gedurft                   you (pl.) were allowed

Darf ich rauchen? Nein! Das dürfen sie nicht.
Ihr dürft hier nicht rauchen.
Ich durfte nicht rauchen. Wir durften nicht rauchen.
Pres. Perfect: Er hat dort nicht rauchen dürfen. He was not permitted to smoke there.
Past Perfect: Wir hatten damals rauchen dürfen. We had been allowed to smoke then.
Future Wir werden rauchen dürfen. We will be allowed to smoke.
Subjunctive: Wenn ich nur rauchen dürfte. If I were allowed to smoke.

Mögen - like, want, may

ich mag                                  I like
ich mochte                             I liked
ich habe gemocht                 I liked

du magst                                you like
du mochtest                           you liked
du hast gemocht                   you liked

er/sie mag                              he / she likes
er/sie mochte                         he / she liked
er/sie hat gemocht                he / she liked

wir/Sie/sie mögen                 we / you / they like
wir/Sie/sie mochten              we / you / they liked
wir/Sie/sie haben gemocht  we / you / they liked

ihr mögt                                  you (pl.) like
ihr mochtet                             you (pl.) liked
ihr habt gemocht                   you (pl.) liked

Present: Er mag das Brot. He likes the bread.
Past: Er mochte die Arbeit nicht. He didn't like the job.
Pres. Perfect: Er hat das Fahren nicht gemocht. He didn't like the driving.
Future: Sie wird das nicht mögen. She'll not like that.
Subjunctive: Ich möchte Milch. I'd like milk.
Subjunctive: Ich möchte... I would like...

Müssen - have to, must

ich muss                                        I must, have to
ich musste                                     I had to
ich habe gemusst                         I had to

du musst                                        you must, have to
du musstest                                   you had to
du hast gemusst                            you had to

er/sie muss                                    he/she must
er/sie musste                                 he/she had to
er/sie hat gemusst                         he/she had to

wir/Sie/sie müssen                        we/you/they have to
wir/Sie/sie mussten                       we/you/they had to
wir/Sie/sie haben gemusst           we/you/they had to

ihr müsst                                         you (pl.) must
ihr musstet                                      you (pl.) had to
ihr habt gemusst                            you (pl.) had to

Present: Ich muss dort englisch lesen. I have to read english there.
Past: Er musste nicht deutsch lesen. He didn't have to read in german.
Present Perfect: Wir haben ein Taxi nehmen müssen. We had to take a taxi.
Future: Sie wird morgen arbeiten müssen. She will have to work tomorrow.
Subjunctive: Wenn ich müsste.  If I had to.

Können - be able, can

ich kann                               I can, am able
ich konnte                            I could
ich habe gekonnt                I could

du kannst                             you can
du konntest                          you could
du hast gekonnt                  you could

er/sie kann                           he / she can
er/sie konnte                        he / she could
er/sie hat gekonnt               he / she could

wir/Sie/sie können               we / you / they can
wir/Sie/sie konnten              we / you / they could
wir/Sie/sie haben gekonnt  we / you / they could

ihr könnt                                you (pl.) can
ihr konntet                             you (pl.) could
ihr habt gekonnt                   you (pl.) could

Present: Er kann gut singen.    He can sing well.
Past: Er konnte nicht singen.    He couldn't sing.
Present Perfect: Er hat nicht singen können.   He couldn't sing.
Past Perfect: Er hatte nicht singen können.      He had not been able to sing.
Future: Er wird nicht singen können.                  He won't be able to sing.
Subjunctive: Wenn ich nur singen könnte.        If I could only sing.

Sollen - should, ought to, supposed to
ich soll                                          I should
ich sollte                                       I should have
ich habe gesollt                           I should have

du sollst                                         you should
du solltest                                      you should have
du hast gesollt                              you should have

er/sie soll                                      he / she should
er/sie sollte                                   he / she should have
er/sie hat gesollt                          he / she should have

wir/Sie/sie sollen                          we / you / they should
wir/Sie/sie sollten                         we / you / they should have
wir/Sie/sie haben gesollt             we / you / they should have

ihr sollt                                           you (pl.) should
ihr solltet                                        you (pl.) should have
ihr habt gesollt                              you (pl.) should have

Present: Er soll arm sein. He's supposed to be poor. 
Past: Er sollte gestern einkaufen gehen. He was supposed to go shopping yesterday.
Pres. Perfect: Du hast das Buch lesen sollen. You should have read the book.
Future: Er soll das nächste Woche machen. He'll do that next week.
Subjunctive: Das hättest du nicht lesen sollen. You shouldn't have read that.
Sollte sie klopfen... If she should knock

Wollen - want to

ich will                                             I want to
ich wollte                                         I wanted to
ich habe gewollt                             I wanted to

du willst                                            you want to
du wolltest                                       you wanted to
du hast gewollt                                you wanted to

er/sie will                                          he / she wants to
er/sie wollte                                     he / she wanted to
er/sie hat gewollt                             he / she wanted to

wir/Sie/sie wollen                            we / you / they want to
wir/Sie/sie wollten                           we / you / they wanted to
wir/Sie/sie haben gewollt               we / you / they wanted to

ihr wollt                                              you (pl.) want to
ihr wolltet                                           you (pl.) wanted to
ihr habt gewollt                                 you (pl.) wanted to

Present: Ich will nicht arbeiten. I don't want to work.
Past: Ich wollte dieses Buch lesen. I wanted to read this book.
Pres. Perfect: Sie haben dieses Buch immer kaufen wollen. They have always wanted to buy this book.
Past Perfect: Wir hatten diese Stadt immer sehen wollen. We had always wanted to see this town.
Future: Er wird arbeiten wollen. He will want to work.
Subjunctive: Wenn ich wollte... If I wanted to...

If you want something as an adult use the word möchte and not will.
Only kids say: Ich will ein Eis. (I want an ice-cream) Kids wishes are stronger
expressed so they can use will.
But as an adult you should say: Ich möchte ein Eis. (I like to have an ice-cream.)

Make sentences with Modal Verbs plus Verb in the infinitive:
to see solution hover with mouse over ......

Ich spreche Deutsch.     (können)......
I speak german.

Peter fährt in die Stadt  (wollen)......
Peter drives in to town.

Das Kind kauft eine Fahrkarte. (müssen)......
The child buys a ticket.

Die Frau geht zum Arzt. (müssen)......
The woman goes to the doctor.

Der Polizist fragt mich. (wollen)......
The policeman asks me.

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