"Sie soll nicht schlafen."

Translation:She is not supposed to sleep.

June 6, 2018

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One, two, Freddy's coming for you...


Eins, zwei, Freddy kommt dabei...


I wonder how scared I would be watching Elm Street with German dub


Could "Sie sollen nicht schlafen" be accepted as "They are not supposed to sleep"?


Duo won't make it correct :(


I don't know if it's just me but the audio is sometimes weird. I have to replay it because it doesn't play fully or it's not very clear. For example this one sounded more like "sollen" than "soll".


@ Ems747

I thought it was saying "sollen" as well. And I did not play it on slow, so I got it wrong.


"She is not to sleep" sounds right to me.


Seconded. Although it is somewhat higher register than "She is not supposed to sleep". Not that that would make it any less correct.


Why is 'she ought not to sleep' wrong?


That would be a better translation of "Sie sollte nicht schlafen".


Can you say more about this?



„Sollen“ is a modal verb that expresses a kind of obligation or expectation. I believe it is etymologically linked to "shall", which is often the best translation, though it's frequently translated to "to be supposed to", and to be to is another oft-used translation.

„Sollte“ is the Konjunktiv II (and preterite) form of „sollen“, and—as per the function of the Konjunktiv II—adds a condition or a sense of uncertainty to the base verb:

Ich kann meine Hausaufgaben machen.
I can do my homework.

Ich könnte meine Hausaufgaben machen (wenn ich wollte).
I could do my homework (if I wanted to).

The rule of thumb for translating the KII form of a verb to English is to add "would" before the translation of the indicative form of the verb:

Ich muss meine Hausaufgaben machen.
I have to do my homework.

Ich müsste meine Hausaufgaben machen, wenn ich sie nicht schon gemacht hätte.
I would have to do my homework, if I hadn't done it already.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really work with any of our translations for "sollen" above, but hopefully we've developed a better sense for the difference between "sollen" and "sollte". The second isn't nearly as firm and definitive as the first.

So when we see a sentence like "Sie soll nicht schlafen.", we should be thinking along the lines of "She shall not sleep.", "She is not supposed to sleep." and "She is not to sleep."; and with a sentence like "Sie sollte nicht schlafen.", we'd do better translating it to something like "She shouldn't sleep." or "She ought not to sleep".


"not supposed to" and "should not" are two very different meanings. which one is the correct or mostly used translation in german?


Very different?
I see "not supposed to" as a step up from "should not"; so I'd still say different, but not very.

Either way, it's impossible to give a 'correct' translation that works all the time; you can only look case-by-case, but generally:

1. "sollen" means "to be supposed to";
2. "sollte" (KII of "sollen") means "should"; [...]

But in actuality there is some crossover between the terms.


AdamKean, I have to kindly and respectfully disagree with you here. To me, the two are very different in that "supposed to" implies obligation through an external authority, while "should" implies self-motivation.

For example, if your coworker is in the hospital, it is perfectly ok to say "i should pay them a visit." However, it doesn't sound genuine if you say "I am supposed to pay them a visit."

I just didn't want it to sound strange when I speak to German natives.


I like the idea of external-obligation for "supposed to", and would extend that to internal-obligation for "should".

Using motivation gives me the impression there is some desire in visiting the coworker; whereas, what I pick up from the sentence "I should pay them a visit.", is "I don't want to, but I ought to—it's the right thing to do". And "I am supposed to pay them a visit." gives me the sort of feeling that visiting coworkers is in the contract, or something along those lines (as you implied with your description); which would essentially be an enforcement of 'doing the right thing' a.k.a. a 'step up'.

I just didn't want it to sound strange when I speak to German natives.

If I might add a word of advice: try and get a feeling for when German speakers use "sollen" and "sollte" in German, without the need to translate every instance back to English. Unless your goal is to translate En<->De (rather than simply understanding/being able to converse in German), you don't need to stop and translate everything back to English once you get a feeling for German.


This should be "She SHALL not sleep", according to the notes accompanying this lesson, "sollen roughly translates to SHALL". I guess the lesson here is that it could also be "supposed to" or "ought to" or "must" . . . .


So sollen means "should" or "shall" in English?


Well, if you want to stick to strict, single translations:

  1. "sollen" means "to be supposed to";
  2. "sollte" (KII of "sollen") means "should"; &
  3. "werden" means "shall".

But in actuality there is some crossover between the terms.

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