German for Beginners: Lesson 16C - German Modal Verbs

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German for Beginners: Lektion 16C

Lesson 16C: German Modal Verbs (3)

In the first part of this lesson we learned how the modal verb können can be used to mean “to know,” but it has many other uses. In this part of Lesson 16 we'll take a closer look at the verb können and the other modal verbs in German.

Modal verbs in German are used in much the same way as they are in English. Notice the close resemblance between these English and German sentence pairs, with the modal verb in red: Imust do it. / Ich muss es tun. - Can you go? / Kannst du gehen?

Below is a chart with the six German modal verbs and their meanings. Note that each modal verb has two basic forms, a singular form and a plural form:

Modalverben
German Modal Verbs

English Deutsch
be permitted, may darf - dürfen
be able, can, know kann - können
like, want, may mag - mögen
have to, must muss - müssen
should, ought/supposed to soll - sollen
want to will - wollen