Modal Verbs German

In life, everything is not always black and white. Therefore, German modal verbs give the sentence a particular emphasis. I will show you these.
Modal verbs are placed second in the sentence. At the end of the sentence, you will find the main verb. This is in the infinitive, while the modal verbs are conjugated.

German Modal Verbs Table


Unlike “sollen,” the auxiliary verb “dürfen” expresses a possibility or permission.
So in English you would say: to be allowed to (to have the permission to)


Sie darf heute früher nach Hause gehen. – She can go home earlier today.

Du darfst nicht mit meinen Sachen spielen. – You’re not allowed to play with my things.


Like the modal verb “dürfen”, the modal verb “können” expresses possibility. But here there is also information about skills.

Können is translated to: to be able to (to can)


Ich kann morgen in den Urlaub fahren. – I can have my vacation tomorrow.

Er kann heute nicht zur Arbeit gehen. – He cannot go to work today.


This modal verb expresses an intention or a plan, but often also a wish.

English translation: to want to


Meine Freundin will mit dem Auto fahren. – My girlfriend wants to take/drive the car.

Sie wollen nicht mit uns reden. – They don’t want to talk to us.


Mögen simply means “to like” in German.


Ich mag diesen Film. – I like this movie.

Sie mag es nicht mit mir zu sprechen. – She does not like talking to me.


This modal verb is used when a necessity is to be expressed. But it can also express a command, a request or a goal. But not only that. An assumption or advice can also be expressed with it.

Translation: to be supposed to / should


Er soll heute noch zur Arbeit fahren. – He should go to work today.

Du sollst nicht mit dem Essen spielen. – You should not play with food.


This modal verb expresses an obligation or a necessity.

Translation: to have to


Ich muss noch mein Auto tanken. – I must get fuel for my car.

Sie muss nicht mehr ins Büro gehen. – She does not have to go to the office anymore.


intention = wollen
mission = sollen
permission = dürfen
capability = können
no necessity = nicht müssen
possibility = können
necessity = müssen
prohibition = nicht dürfen
obligation = müssen
wish = „möchten“

German modal verbs Exercise

😉 More Blog Posts

(no title)
German Vocabulary training: kennen In diesem Post möchte ich euch fünf Verben …
10 German Slang Words
German Slang words help you to sound more natural when speaking to …

Free eBook

Learn REAL German 

with this workbook

This 20-page step-by-step guide will teach you how to:

  • Get more comfortable with the German language
  • Learn keywords: professional and everyday German
  • Practice with Quizzes
  • Train dialogues in a professional environment
  • Improve your understanding of grammar

It may take up to 5 minutes until you receive your ebook via email. Take the time to meditate 🙏

Success! Check your inbox.

Berlin, Germany

Privacy policy



Brand collaboration

Leave a Reply