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Modal Verbs

Meaning
Conjuga tion
Word Order

Meanings of Modal Verbs


Modal verbs have meanings that
express mood.
Every modal verb can be combined
with any action infinitive to form a
modal verb phrase.
A modal verb phrase expresses action
and the mood or attitude toward that
action.
Example:

You understand.
Action verb

sollen
knnen
drfen
mchten
wollen
mssen

You should understand.


Modal verb

sollen
should
ought to
to be supposed to
to do: machen

Er macht es.
He does it.

sollen
should
ought to
to be supposed to

Er soll es machen.
He should do it.

knnen
can
to be able to

to carry: tragen

Er trgt es.
He carries it.

knnen
can
to be able to

Er kann es tragen.
He can carry it.

drfen
may
to be allowed to
to be permitted to
to stay: bleiben

Wir bleiben hier.


We stay here.

drfen
may
to be allowed to
to be permitted to

Wir drfen hier


bleiben.
We may stay here.

mchten
would like to
to have a desire to

to help: helfen

Ihr helft uns.


You help us.

mchten
would like to
to have a desire to

Ihr mchtet uns


helfen.
You would like to help us.

wollen
to want to
to intend to

to become: werden

Du wirst begabt.
You are becoming skilled.

wollen
to want to
to intend to
to plan to

Du willst begabt
werden.
You want to become skilled.

mssen
must
to have to
to be obligated to
to give: geben

Sie geben mehr.


They give more.

mssen
must
to have to
to be obligated to

Sie mssen mehr


geben.
They must give more.

sollen
should
ought to
to be supposed to

knnen
can
to be able to

drfen
may
to be allowed to
to be permitted to

mssen
must
to have to
to be obligated to

wollen
to want to
to intend to

mchten
would like to
to have a desire to

Conjugation of modal verbs

--

du

-e e
mchte
-st
mchtest

er

-e e
mchte

Wir

-en

ihr

-en
mchten
-t
mchtet

Sie
sie

-en
mchten

-en

ich

-st

-t

ich

soll

du

soll st

ich mchte
du mchtest

er

soll

er mchte

wir

soll en

wir mchten

ihr

soll t

ihr mchtet

sie

soll en

sie mchten

Modal verbs sollen and mchten have regular conjugations.

i
ich will
i st
du will
er

will
i

stem-vowel
change
o>i

wir woll
o en
ihr

woll
o t

sie

woll
o en

Except for sollen and mchten, modal verbs have a


stem-vowel change for the ich,du and er forms.

a
ich kann
a st
du kann
er

a
kann

wir

knn
en

ihr

knn
t

sie

knn
en

stem-vowel
change
>a

ich

darf
a

du

darf
a st

er

darf
a

wir

drf
en

ihr

drf
t

sie

drf
en

stem-vowel
change
>a

u
ich muss
u st
du mus
er

muss
u

wir mss
en
ihr mss
t
sie

en
mss

stem-vowel
change
>u

ich

will

darf

kann

muss

soll

mchte

du

willst

darfst

kannst

musst

sollst

mchtest

er

will

darf

kann

muss

soll

mchte

wir

wollen drfen knnen mssen sollen mchten

ihr

wollt

sie

wollen drfen knnen mssen sollen mchten

drft

knnt

msst

sollt

mchtet

Word Order
Since the modal verb must be conjugated to agree with

the subject, it takes the pivotal second


statement sentences.

position in

The modal remains dependent upon its action verb,

which is placed in the last position in all sentences,


whether statements, questions or imperative commands.
A German sentence only conjugates one verb per clause,
therefore, the dependent action verb is given in its

infinitive form.

Dependent Infinitive