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  5. "Er dürfte wieder gesund sein…

"Er dürfte wieder gesund sein."

Translation:He is probably healthy again.

October 25, 2015



I thought that dürfen = to be allowed to


In this case, this is a usage of the modal verbs expressing subjective attitude to the probability of the part of the sentence that follows. "dürfte" here is expressing 75% certainty that he is healthy again. "He ought to be healthy again." If you were only 50% certain you would use "könnte"; if you were a bit more sure, but not completely, you would use "müsste"; if you were completely sure, you would use "muss". "mag" or "mochte" could also be used, especially in writing or southern German, to express something between "könnte" and "dürfte". You just have to learn this as a specialized usage. Note, these do not express objective possibility or probability: they express the speaker's attitude to the probability of the thing talked about.

A quick search did not turn up great resources in English, but this page in German explains it: http://www.deutschplus.net/pages/332


I want to translate "Er dürfte...sein" as "He may be...", but from your link I see that this is marked wrong because "He may be..." is stated as "Er kann...sein".

This is doubly confusing, because I'd want to translate "Er kann...sein" as "He can be...", which has an entirely different meaning than "He may be..."


DL accepts should as a translation for dürfte in this case. He should be healthy again sounds more natural in English, doesn't it?


AlziraLope, I believe you are correct: "should" is a much better translation for "dürfte" in this sentence.


Accepted April 30, 2019!


Wait, so if "duerfte" is the expresses the most confident attitude in the probability of something then why is it translated as "might"? Wouldn't it be closer to "probably" while "koennte" would be "might"?


Or another way to make the relative level of confidence clearer: He might (/may) well be healthy again.


Oh wow, I had no idea! Thank you very much :) I knew about this special usage of "muss" but only that (because you can do the same thing in my native language, Greek).




I wonder if "supposed to" is a good translation for this into English, as it has the double meaning of 1) allegedly/reportedly and 2) obliged to, required to? I shall think of it like that anyway.


Well, maybe it is, but Duolingo doesn't accept it :-(


Thank you for the link; it's really helpful!


Corvinr-whoa, that's amazing info! Thanks so much!


I can see that from what you said and I read the source. Thank you for the reference. However previously I wrote this as an answer. it was not accepted.

"He may be healthy again"

Would this also Express basically the same concept expressing the speakers thoughts about it? I also tried pretty much every variation of it and Duo would not accept it.


I also tried, he could be healthy again. He might be healthy again. he would be healthy again.

All of which above hold more closely to the meaning , in English, which we have learned about Dürfte from Duo.

For the word "probably" we have learned wahrscheinlich and I'm wondering if there would be a reverse translation to English that would use "probably" that could mean the same thing as Duo's translation in English?


I believe the sentence we are all looking for, in English, is "He should be healthy again." which was accepted.


I would argue that in English it should be, "He should become healthy again." But, that would be werden, and would perhaps be written. Er dürfte wieder gesund werden. or Er sollte...


But as usual and Duo's way it generated a lot of good conversation, I think! :-)


Commenting so I can refer to this later


@ Jd_jd_jd

In addition to what zengator wrote you can also just click on the "follow discussion" button on top of this, or any other, discussion thread. It will change to "following discussion".

And then you can find any discussions you follow on the Duolingo site when you choose the " discuss" option on https://forum.duolingo.com/. (which has the choices of "new - popular - followed" options right below the heading "Duolingo language Forums" on top of the page.

That way you can follow as many discussions as you want without flooding everyone's emails with non-comments. :)


Don't do that, please. If you just create a bookmark in your browser, you can still refer to this, without (a) sending an email notification to everyone who is following this discussion, and (b) adding to the clutter.


Yes. 'Ich darf' is similar to 'i may'


I also thought that dürfen required some sort of permission... Guess we were wrong.


Why not "He may be healthy again"?


We have darfen in the conditional form, equivalent in English of 'may' becoming 'might'.


But "he might be healthy again" is marked wrong.

  • 1947

Still marked wrong as of July 13, 2020.


But in English there's really very little difference between the two.


he might be healthy again... he may be healthy again... all is refused! Duo insist on: he is probably healthy again... Isn't the meaning exactly the same?


No, they are quite different. I might win the lottery. I may win the lottery. But I probably won’t win the lottery. That is, it’s not likely to occur. “Might” and “may” just mean that it’s possible that an event can occur, but do not reflect how likely (or otherwise) it is that the event does occur. You should look at the reply by corvinr to the first comment above, which describes how “dürften” and similar words in German can be used to describe probabilities.


... But "dürfen" seems to usually mean "may, is allowed to", which is to say "may" is a pretty literal translation, if not the equivalent of "dürfen".


Sure, and that would be fine if the word in the above sentence was "dürfen" and not "dürften".


This concept should be explained in the Tips section for this lesson, please.


"He would be allowed to be healthy again."?


Explanation of word order?


Almost everything I know about German word order I learned from this article: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/WordOrder/WordOrder.html

However . . . it is written using a lot of fancy grammatical terms, so it can be a little hard to understand. More recently, I came across these explanations, that are equally informative, but written in a humorous way and with simple language. Check them out! https://yourdailygerman.com/learn-german-online-course/


I translated this as "He may GET healthy again." This was marked incorrect, and corrected as "He may BE healthy again." But, to me, that translation suggests, "I don't know how he is currently doing; he was sick last I heard, but he may be healthy again." Whereas, my understanding of the sentence was... it's discussing a prognosis. He's sick, but he may GET healthy again. Can someone clarify what the sense of it is? Is it actually speaking about the sick person in the present, or is the present-tense a transliteration... and the actual meaning is talking about his odds of his recovering in the future?


Why is "could" not accepted as a translation for "dürfte" here? In a previous sentence in this exercise, it was accepted.


Whatever rules Duo has for "dürfen" contradict one another and you are given no information how you're supposed to translate it in any given exercise, which makes for a very frustrating experience.


The usage of "dürfte" in these exercises is very confusing. I keep trying to translate it was "would be allowed to" or "could", and sometimes this is how Duo translates it, but I am also being marked wrong in some translations, where Duo says "should" or the present tense plus a qualifier (as in "is probably") is presented as the correct translation. I am not understanding at all how this verb is used.


Here you're punished if you try to translate "dürfen" as "may"/"might", but elsewhere in this very unit you're required to translate "dürfen" as "may/"might".

I can't make sense of it either.


Note the difference: in this exercise, the verb is "dürften." This is the subjunctive form of "dürfen" and so, naturally, has a different meaning.

"Dürfen" means "may / be allowed to" in its normal (indicative) form, but the subjunctive has a different meaning, as used here.


English is not the duo Creator's first language. However, sometimes it takes them awhile but they do eventually learn as we can see that they now except "He should be better again."

Even in English we have troubles with May, must, should, could, would. Not to mention Shall. As indicated by the idiom... ""Shoulda, coulda, woulda, didn't."


"He should be healthy again." (accepted as of Dec 2018)

I thougt I would mention it in the discussion, as nobody has done that so far. To me it seems to be a very natural EN sentence, covering both the rather high probability expressed by a modal verb in conditional, and the ambiguity of timing (by now vs. at some point). The only con is that, in backtranslation, I would use the "sollen" verb.


Okay, just a little frustration here. My first answer was "he may again be healthy"....read the comments about the difference between 'might' and 'may'. The question comes back around and I answer 'he might again be healthy'....sorry, no! The translation is 'he might be healthy again'. My question is just how picky is German on word order in translating from German to English? Is one or both of my answers correct (outside of DuoWorld), and if not, why not.


I'm not sure what you mean by how picky German is when translating to English. (German doesn't care how you translate to English.) But the most natural English phrasing, in my (US native) opinion is "He might be healthy again." "May" is okay, too, and sounds a little more formal and a little less natural in other contexts. "He may/might again be healthy" sounds weird (maybe poetic or old-fashioned or something).


Thanks. Good to know because I'm sure I will again get tripped up on that phrase. Next time I will report it.


I wrote, "He ought to be well again." It was not accepted. But it's just another way of saying what the recommended English translation says: "He is probably healthy again." So I believe it should be accepted. After all, "He should be healthy again" is accepted.


Why not "Er durfte wieder gesund sein". Which tense is used in this sentence? What is the difference?


durfte is simple past tense. English translation would then be more like "he was able to recover," rather than with dürfte (Konjunktiv II, aka "substantive"), whereby it's just as die grüne Eule says "he might be able to recover [i.e., be healthy again]" . There's a good article on the topic of der Konjunktiv at Dartmouth's site.


I can't understand a word "again" is came from where????


I think you're asking why "again" is included in the English translation. If so, the answer is: because "wieder" means "again".


Is there an issue with "He could be healthy again"?


"Could be" and "might be" both impart a sense of uncertainty in future occurrences, but it would be better to associate dürften with "may" or "might" and könnten (subjunctive form of können) with "could".


"He probably is healthy again." was marked wrong, As a U.S. English speaker, I would say that. I reported it.


Could He might be healthy again be accepted?


Hmm: I just had "He might be healthy again" rejected, and "He must be healthy again" suggested as the correction. Given the comments below that seems wrong: if I understand correctly "might" is probably too weak here, and "must" is too definite. The translation given above --"is probably"-- ist dürfte das Beste :-)


Why is this "He must be healthy again," instead of "He may be healthy again?"


Shouldn't "might" be accepted as well?


He probably is healthy again ...is perfectly correct and should have not been marked wrong.


Edit: Copernicus is right:

"Probably" would mean that it's more likely than not that he's healthy again (more than a 50% chance). "May" just says that it's possible that he's healthy, without saying anything about the likelihood.

Although "He possibly is healthy again." should work.

Thanks Copernicus (to someone who is more pedantic than I, and yes, I do mean that as a compliment),


This is bloody ridiculous duo


It's weird that the subjunctive is used to express something probable instead of doubtful here.


What is the difference between probably and may be?


"Probably" would mean that it's more likely than not that he's healthy again (more than a 50% chance). "May" just says that it's possible that he's healthy, without saying anything about the likelihood.


Do germans use "dürfte" like we use "should" like in "he should be healthy again"


Why not just say 'he may be healthy'?


Because that doesn't translate "wieder."


"He might again be healthy" is wrong?


He may be healthy again... ? No?


I love ya, Duo, but this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me!


Probably he is healthy again


He may be healthy again


He may have become healthy again.


He may be well again. He may well be healthy again.


This is incorrect Düfte means may


Sorry, but although "dürfen" means "may", when in the subjunctive tense (as it is here) "dürften" expresses that something is probable. See the third entry here.


Sometimes even the explanations don't seem to make sense.


Fast is too fast, slow is too slow. Can't you find something in between for the listening exercises? I'm so fed up with it!


These 2 sentences mean the same.


Um, that seriously insulted whoever "might be healthy again."

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