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German Modal Verbs


Part 1: dürfen, können, mögen

This modal-verb guide is also part of
Lektion 16 of German for Beginners.

In the following charts you'll find the most common conjugations of the six German modal verbs. The subjunctive mood and less commonly used tenses (future, future perfect, past perfect, etc.) are found on our Modal Verb Examples page, along with sample modal sentences. For an introduction to the modals and a self-scoring quiz, see our Verb Review 2 page. Also see the 20 Most-Used German Verbs, German Top 1000 (most frequently used words in reading) and our free German for Beginners course for more about German verbs and other topics.


Lesson 16 > Modals 1 > Modals 2 > Modal Examples

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Modalverben 1 - Modal Verbs 1
PRÄSENS
(Present)
PRÄTERITUM
(Preterite/Past)
PERFEKT
(Pres. Perfect)
DÜRFEN - be allowed/permitted, may
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
* In the present perfect or past perfect tense with another verb, the double infinitive construction is used, as in the following examples:

ihr habt sprechen dürfen = you (pl.) were allowed to speak
ich hatte sprechen dürfen = I had been allowed to speak

Sample Modal Sentences

The 20 Most-Used German Verbs

Copyright © 2003-2005 german.about.com

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
* In the present perfect or past perfect tense with another verb, the double infinitive construction is used, as in the following examples:

wir haben schwimmen können = we were able to swim
ich hatte schwimmen können = I had been able to swim

BACK > Lektion 16 of German for Beginners

Sample Modal Sentences

The 20 Most-Used German Verbs

Copyright © 2003-2005 german.about.com

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.) could
ihr habt gemocht *
you (pl.) could
* In the present perfect or past perfect tense with another verb, the double infinitive construction is used, as in the following examples:

wir haben schwimmen mögen = we liked to swim
ich hatte schwimmen mögen = I had liked to swim

mögen is often used in its subjunctive (möchte) "would like" form:
Ich möchte lieber Kaffee (haben). = I would rather have coffee.
Wir möchten ins Kino. = We'd like to go to the movies.

Sample Modal Sentences

The 20 Most-Used German Verbs

Copyright © 2003-2005 german.about.com

NEXT > Modals 2 (müssen, sollen, wollen)

MORE > Index of German Verbs - Verb-Lexikon

Sample Modal Sentences
Modal verb examples in various tenses.

Lesson 16 - German for Beginners
More about German modal verbs.

German Verb Guide
Our contents page, verb index, and for everything related to German verbs.

The 20 Most-Used German Verbs
Ranked by frequency of use. With conjugations and examples.

German Top 1000
The most frequently used German words in reading, ranked by frequency.

German for Beginners
Our free online German course!

More German Grammar
A guide to all the grammar pages at this site, listed by category.


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