German 1 Online: Reading Guide for Pages 125

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German 1 Online: Reading Guide for Pages 125-129: Modal Verbs
For this reading assignment, enter page “125” in the search bar for the eText and begin your reading.
Page 125-126: Grammatik im Kontext
The use and conjugation and meanings of modal verbs are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to learn
thoroughly. Modal Verbs are HELPING verbs that ‘modify’ the tone and meaning of your sentence:
English has them too! We say “I can speak German” and “You should learn it” very much like German
does. The only real differences are the conjugation of the helping verbs, and the placement of the
second (infinitive) verb, which in German will come at the end of the sentence. Please read this
entire section very carefully.
Modal Auxiliary Verbs
We have modal verbs in English, too: we just put the infinitive in a different place. In English, we say things like “I
can speak German very well.” In German, you will use the helping verb können (ich kann) but you will place the
infinitive (speak) at the very end of your thought: “Ich kann sehr gut Deutsch sprechen.” You’re saying the same
words, just in a different order.
Things to notice:
• There are six modal verbs in German, plus one extra form you’ll need to learn. They are:
können = can, be able to
müssen = must, have to
sollen = should, supposed to
wollen = to want to
dürfen = may, be allowed to
mögen = to like, enjoy
möchten = would like to do
ich
ich
ich
ich
ich
ich
ich
kann, du kannst, er kann, wir können, ihr könnt, Sie können
muss, du musst, er muss, wir müssen, ihr müsst, Sie müssen
soll, du sollst, er soll, wir sollen, ihr sollt, Sie sollen
will, du willst, er will, wir wollen, ihr wollt, Sie wollen
darf, du darfst, er darf, wir dürfen, ihr dürft, Sie dürfen
mag, du magst, er mag, wir mögen, ihr mögt, Sie mögen
möchte, du möchtest, er möchte, wir möchten, ihr möchtet, Sie möchten
• When you use a modal verb in a sentence, the modal verb is the conjugated verb to match the subject.
• Then you put the ‘real’ action verb in its unconjugated form (the infinitive ending in -en) AT THE END of your
sentence or clause. “Ich soll heute für die Klasse lernen” = ‘I should today for class learn’ is normal
German sentence order. Yes, you will sound a little bit like Yoda, but it is NORMAL and CORRECT in German
to put the infinitive verb at the end. If you don’t, it sounds like Tarzan or very wrong.
• Remember that the action verb is in the infinitive with -en. That means for separable-prefix verbs, you will
re-attach the prefix and use only one word.
Ich muss morgen um 6 Uhr aufstehen.
Er kann heute Abend nicht vorbeikommen.
I have to get up at 6 tomorrow.
He can’t come over tonight.
• Look very carefully at those conjugation tables on page 126! These verbs are irregular but predictable once
you know the pattern. They have an infinitive that changes its vowel in the singular (ich, du, er/sie/es) but
keeps the original vowel in the plural (wir, ihr, sie/Sie). You will need to memorize these forms.
• The er/sie/es form of these verbs DOES NOT END IN -T. Don’t put -t endings on these verbs unless you have the
subject ‘ihr’ (you all). The correct forms do not have -t endings: er WILL, sie MUSS, es KANN.
• The ich form DOES NOT END IN -E. It is simply the stem: ich will, ich muss, ich kann.
• Please note the MEANINGS of these verbs as well. Most look like English (kann, muss, soll) but “ich will” does
NOT mean the future tense. “Ich will” means “I want to”. It only communicates a desire, not a plan!
• The verb “möchten” is technically a different ‘mood’ or form, so it has slightly different endings which you will
need to memorize separately. It is used exactly like the other modal verbs so the sentence structure is the
same, only the verb endings are a little different than the other modal verbs.
• With ‘möchten’, the er/sie/es forms DO NOT END IN -T either. To say “he would like to go” = “er möchte
gehen”. Do not add -t to these verbs unless your subject is ‘ihr’ (you all).
• It is possible to leave out the ‘action’ verb infinitive after a modal verb. In English, we can say “I would like
some coffee” or “I would like to have some coffee” — either with or without the verb ‘to have’. In German,
nearly any action verb CAN optionally be left out but only if the meaning will be clear from context. “I have
(to go) home” can be either “ich muss nach Hause gehen” or “ich muss nach Hause” because the meaning
is clear either way.
I strongly suggest that you look at the following links. One is my explanation and practice with the modal verbs, and
the other is a different textbook’s detailed explanation of the modal verbs.
Handout: Modal Verbs Explanation
(http://www.nthuleen.com/saddleback/handouts/Modal_Verbs-Explanation.pdf)
Other Textbook: Alternate Explanation
(http://www.nthuleen.com/saddleback/handouts/Modal_Verbs-Overview_Textbook.pdf)
Page 127-129: Übung 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 15
You will complete six exercises to help you learn and practice the modal verbs. This is the most
important new topic in this chapter, so please take your time and learn it well! You will
complete exercises 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 15 as part of your Connect Aufgabe, so you can mostly
ignore the textbook pages 127-129 for now until you complete those assignments online.
Now that you have learned the important information about the modal helping verbs, you should complete the
Aufgabe on the Connect website. After you have completed those exercises, you should finish the remaining
work on the weekly checklist. Also, remember to keep practicing, memorizing and learning both the vocabulary
and grammar topics using the web links and videos at the bottom of the Week 10 page on Blackboard.
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