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  5. "Can I rent the car?"

"Can I rent the car?"

Translation:Kann ich das Auto mieten?

July 18, 2017



Is "Darf ich das Auto mieten?" not acceptable?


Technically that's "May I rent the car?". Kann is asking if it's physically possible, Darf is asking if you're permitted to. There's some pedantry about the distinction between these in both languages, but you can avoid all that by just keeping the translation as direct as possible.


That's what I thought. My assumption was that the sentence was in use at a car rental company, and therefore I was assuming that it was a possibility, the question is whether they would let me.


In that context "can"/kann might be appropriate, because presumably they would let you as a paying customer rent it if it were available. But that still doesn't necessitate switching from one verb to the other in translation since both languages use them similarly.


Why is "Fahrzeug" not an acceptable substitute for "Auto"?


Because they do not mean the same thing.

A Fahrzeug (vehicle) is a broader category and includes not only cars but also busses, trucks, bicycles, etc.

It would be like translating Hund as "animal". Sure, all dogs are animals, but that doesn't make "animal" a particularly good translation of Hund.

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