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  5. "Was sollst du jetzt machen?"

"Was sollst du jetzt machen?"

Translation:What should you do now?

February 14, 2014



Duo has just set me two questions; this one where "machen" = "do" and another where "tun" ="do". What would be the usage for the two options? Thanks.


I note no answer to this question even after 4 years lol


Should "What should you make now" work?


The default meaning of this sentence would always be: "What should you do now?" Only in a special context the translation with "make" might work.


Why is 'du jetzt machst' wrong? I'm not sure when to use 'machst' versus 'machen'.


[Du jetzt machst.] is not a complet sentence. [you now make]


Yes. Thanks for replying. I was using a portion of a sentence as an example, thus the single quotes.


The word order is likely the problem. A finite verb (conjugated part of the verb like machst) moves to the end of the sentence only in side sentences.

Weißt du, was du jetzt machst? (side sentence "machst" in last position)
Do you know, what you are doing?

The place for the finite verb in a normal main sentence is in second position. It only moves to first position in imperatives or questions.

Machst du etwas? (1. position, no question word)
Are you doing something?

However, a question word (was, warum, wie, wann, wo...) can also start a question and then the finite verb takes second position like in a usual main sentence.

Was machst du?
What are you doing?

Finally, every main or side sentence can only contain one finite verb. Additional verbs are either participles or infinitives (not conjugated). Modal verbs (sollen, dürfen, können, müssen.... should, may, can, must...) are usually combined with a full verb (normal verb), which is then moved to the end of the sentence and in infinitive (not inflected).

Was sollst du jetzt machen? sollst finite verb, machen infinitive
What are you supposed to do now?


Gosh! What a good and clear explanation! Thanks very much!! This clears the mud. It makes sense now. Thanks a lot!!


I think "should" is better translated using "sollte" and not "soll". Duolingo also accepts: "What shall you do now".


Why wouldn't "What should you make now?" work? Machen also means make, so it should work, shouldn't it?


It should, but I guess the point is that the main meaning of "machen" is actually "do".


Hmm... Yeah, I see "machen" used as "do" most often, but since it means make shouldn't it still be accepted?

Also, how do you know to use "sollst" instead of "solltest"? I saw someone say that "sollten" is more of a personal suggestion, while "sollen" is an obligation. Wouldn't "solltest" be used in that case? (Sorry... I thought I understood the difference, but when I started thinking about it I realized that that definitely isn't the case.)


You are quite right about suggestion and obligation.

The grammar answer is that "solltest" is conditional and "sollst" is plain indicative. I think in English only the conditional form survived "should".

Du solltest das machen. You should do this. (conditional)

Du sollst das machen. You have to/are supposed to/are obliged to do this. (indicative)

You can compare it to conditional forms of other modal verbs to get a feel:

Du könntest das machen. You could do this. (conditional)

Du kannst das machen. You can do this. (indicative)

Du müsstest das machen. You would have to do this. (conditional, there is no form for must)

Du musst das machen. You must do this. (indicative)

By the way: "solltest" could also be past tense instead of indicative. The forms are identical. This is not the case with the other examples.

sollst/solltest/solltest, kannst/könntest/kanntest, musst/müsstest/musstest, darfst/dürftest/durftest,

2nd person present indicative/present conditional/past tense


They still don't accept 'have to' as a translation of 'sollst'...


Thank you for explaining it. I get the difference now. I wasn't actually thinking about what conditional and indicative means. I remember now. :)

Thanks again!


what ought you do now


Is 'what should you be doing now' wrong? How would you say it?


Does "What should you now do" sound wrong? I would use it to emphasize "NOW"...


You'd be better with "now what should you do"


Yeah, I don't think it really sounds right. It just doesn't sound very natural. That's just my opinion, though. I'm not sure if it's technically correct.


This sounds perfectly OK, as a question.


How would you say in german "What do you still have to do?" / "What still remains to be done (by you)?" Could "Was sollst du jetzt machen?" Have any of those meanings?


Here you'd likely use "noch" (still), instead of "jetzt" (now), and probably switch the modal verb to müssen as well: Was musst du (immer) noch machen?

Using "sollen" here would be more of a "What more should you still do?" (again, assuming noch) Similar, but nuanced.

Your question above would translate to me as "What should you do now?" ... perhaps as in "Ach nein, der letzte Bus fahrte ab! Was sollst du jetzt machen?"


Would it be right to also say "what are you supposed to do now"?


Isn't du a singular you? isn't Machen plural?


Yes and no. Du is the informal singular you. machen - is infinitive here, the verb in its non-conjugated state. You have two verbs in this sentence. Machen is dependent of the modal verb „sollen“. In this case sollen is conjugated to „sollst“ (du - 2nd person singular ending -st), while machen remains unchanged and moves to the end of the sentence. This is a verb bracket - conjugated part in second position „sollst“ and the rest „machen“ at the end.

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