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  5. "Was sollen wir heute machen?"

"Was sollen wir heute machen?"

Translation:What should we do today?

March 31, 2014



"Same thing we do every day, Pinky. Try and take over the world!"


A rollercoaster.. ?


Es gibt sechs Wochen voller Sommerferien Tage,


What is the difference/how does one decide to use "sollen" oder "sollten"?


I'm just a beginner but I am starting to think that "shall" and "should" in English do not precisely translate to "sollen" and "sollten" in German, respectively; which seems to imply that there would always be some ambiguity in translation.


Die gleiche Sache dass jeder Tag wir tun, Pinky.:

Die gleiche Sache dass jeder Tag wir tun, Pinky.


Is "tun" acceptable at the end, or must we use "machen"?


"tun" and "machen" are possible.


how can sollen and sollten translate as "should?"


Yeah, we Germans ask us why you have only one word for both. We would like to connect 'should' with 'would' or 'will' to show a subjunctiv but I have never seen such a construct for 'sollte' in English.


  • Meine Mutter sagt, ich soll mehr essen. = My mother says: I should eat more.
  • Meine Mutter sagt, ich sollte mehr essen.= My mother says: I should eat more.

....it is similar to the sentences below.

  • Meine Mutter wünscht, dass ich mehr esse. (subjunctiv I)= My mother wishes, that I will eat more.
  • Meine Mütter wünscht, dass ich mehr essen würde. (subjunctiv II)= My mother wishes, that I would eat more.


Nice explanation, Abendbrot. Consider this also: the English "should" in the sense of being a recommendation seems to best capture the sense of sollten, and the English "shall" is a good approximation of sollen. The distinction becomes more clear when one remembers that "shall" is more of a command--it is not optional. That sense is sometimes lost in modern usage, particularly because "shall" is not used all that frequently.

BTW: "My mother wishes . . . "


How could I forget "-es"! Thank you, and thank you for the comment.


Looking at the comments on this page, two thoughts:

My first thought: The difference between "sollen" and "sollten": My personal opinion is that English is the culprit here, misusing "shall" and "should" to the point where it appears that "sollen" and "sollten" have the "same" meaning - in English.

Myself, personally, I would try to use "shall" for "sollen" and "should" for "sollten" wherever possible.

A place where this may not be possible is where "shall" is used as a command in English, as in "you shall (do something)"; in English, this is supposed to be an even more binding set of instructions than "you must (do something)."

My second thought: Another part of sloppiness in English is its use of the verb "do." Comparing English to German and Spanish, I have come to realize that we use "do" as a helping verb, much like "can," "shall," "must," and "will."

Indeed, somewhere in history, we lost the ability to ask the simplest of questions: "Worked you?" or "Played you?" or "Paid you?" In every instance, in English, today, we have to say, "Did you work?" or "Did you play?" or "Did you pay?"

This, I believe, drives the confusion between "tun" and "machen" in German for English speakers. We are practically incapable of thinking of an action without adding the "helping" verb of "do."

In Spanish, it's "hacer," in German, it's "machen," and in either language, it's not really necessary to say that we "do" something.

And don't even get me started on "used to"!


What's the difference between machen and tun?


There is not difference in meaning. "machen" sounds sometimes more active. It is sometimes normal to use "tun" instead of "machen" and the other way around. Especially for fixed phrases there is sometimes only one verb used and the people are not used to the other verb for those phrases.


Why not "What should we do now"? How would you say this?


You would use "jetzt." "Heute" = "today"; "jetzt" = "now."


pheneas and ferb reference i see



According to Google Translate, "What do we want to do today?" is acceptable.


That's not a good translation.

wir wollen = we want, but wir sollen = we shall, we are supposed to, (sometimes:) we should


Is this also how you would say "What should we make today"? When saying "do", what is the difference between tun and machen?


I'm not a native speaker, so I'm not sure. If I go by translate.google.com, do/make (tun/machen) are synonyms. I'd love to hear from an expert!


Still not comfortable with "sollen" = "should."

I would prefer the English sentence say, "shall."

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