modal auxiliaries n.
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Modal Auxiliaries. Present tense and past tense. Present Tense Modal Auxiliaries Sentence Structure. Basic sentence structure: Ich lese ein Buch. Subject verb object

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modal auxiliaries

Modal Auxiliaries

Present tense and past tense

present tense modal auxiliaries sentence structure
Present TenseModal Auxiliaries Sentence Structure
  • Basic sentence structure:
  • Ich lese ein Buch.
  • Subject verb object

In modal sentences the modal takes the place of the verb. The verb moves to the end of the sentence in the infinitive form.

  • Ich möchteein Buch lesen
  • Subject modal object verb (in infinitive)
negating modals
Negating Modals

If there is a verb in the sentence the nicht moves after the modal

Sie möchte nach Deutschland fahren.

Sie möchte nichtnach Deutschland fahren.

If there is no verb in the sentence the nicht moves to the end of the sentence.

Ermagdas Buch.

Ermagdas Buch nicht.


Modal Auxiliaries ( sometimes called helping verbs) help to set the mood of a particular sentence in which they occur. Look at the English sentence and see how each modal auxiliary changes the meaning.

Anne mag ein Buch lesen.

Annelikes to read a book.

Rainer möchte ein Buch lesen.

Rainer would liketo read a book .

Boris muss ein Buch lesen.

Boris must read a book.

Julia will ein Buch lesen.

Julia wants to read a book.

useful tips
Useful Tips
  • When using modal auxiliary , it is very important to remember that the infinitive of the main verb is placed at the end of the sentence.
  • The modal auxiliary appears in the position normally held by the verb.
  • Sometimes the main verb can be eliminated , provided that the meaning is clear by using the modal auxiliary.

Tina will in die Stadt gehen.

Tina will in die Stadt.


Modals to know:

Mögen: to like

Möchten: would like to

Müssen: must, to have to

Wollen: to want to

Dürfen: may, to be allowed to

Können: can, to be able to

Sollen: should, to be supposed to

conjugating modals
Conjugating modals

Only the modal is conjugated, not the verb at the end.

The modal follows the same conjugating pattern as a verb.

Ich mag Pizza essen.

Du magst Pizza essen.

Er,sie,es mag Pizza essen.

Wir mögen Pizza essen.

Ihr mögt Pizza essen.

Sie mögen Pizza essen.

past tense of modal auxiliaries
Past Tense of Modal Auxiliaries

Mögen: mochte

Müssen: musste

Wollen: wollte

Dürfen: durfte

Können: konnte

Sollen: sollte

The past tense forms are given in the 1st and 3rd person singular, all others need to be conjugated.

please note the 1st and 3 rd person singular are the same and is the base form of the past tense
Please note the 1st and 3rd person singular are the same and is the base form of the past tense.

Mögen: Dürfen:

  • Ich mochte durfte
  • Du mochtest durftest
  • Er,sie ,es mochte durfte
  • Wir mochten durften
  • Ihr mochtet durftet
  • Sie mochten durften