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Real life conversations: our daily speech.

The thing with any learning course is of course this… … you half hope that what you are going to learn is going to be something like the way you talk and write in your ‘own’ language. But, of course a learning course isn’t an exact replica of what ‘you’ would say or write to other people in the course of your daily life, because that would be impossible to do. Sure, i would love to see German sentences in Duo like ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘never mind let’s do it tomorrow’ or ‘i feel happy and also sad today’ or even something that is never really said that much, like ‘oh no, not him again’ [when you see someone you don’t particularly want to talk to], or even just want to see. But, of course Duo gives you the basic building blocks and its up to you to structure them in your own life as you want to, or [see fit].

An example being: When i read ‘Ich mag Äpfel’ again and again in Duo i simply choose another fruit [in my mind], its all you can do really, when bored with the word Apples.

So let me put an imaginary conversation to you. You have a friend who you’d like to share your ‘news’ with and as they are German and you would like to speak or write to them in German you have to find a way to share what you want to say. This person could be someone you know in the same street, or you may have to say or ‘tell’ your news to them by phone or email. Either way let’s say they live in the same street and you meet them once a week and you talk about the weather and such things, and obviously about other people too. This friend of yours has school-aged children and your friend already knows you do not as you have said ‘Ich habe keine Kinder’ to them before, but you still want to be able to talk about their children.

When you converse together you talk about School and you find that certain issues come-up again and again and just how often a parent or guardian of a school-aged child gets a message to go to the school [gets summoned or asked to go in] for many differing reasons.

Suddenly you find yourself wanting to say in German ‘they must go to the school’ meaning the parents of the child for whatever reason that is, i.e. bad behaviour or bad test results etc.

But it is only to impress your friend with some of your spoken German knowledge, in what is still rather sadly a conversation mainly in English. But because ‘they must go to the school’ is really only part of a sentence and its followed by a reason, the ‘why’, you seriously think to yourself perhaps i should have at least made it a full sentence in German or even have used the word ‘because’ at the end, if only not to confuse your German speaking friend and give some context. But thankfully they did understand what you were trying to say because as we all know many mainland Europeans know languages better than the English.

So, to finish my point, let’s look at the [they must go to the school] part of the conversation, it uses a modal verb and a verb, so the modal verb goes at the end of the clause/sentence.

So let’s translate it… … [they must go to the school] = [sie müssen zur Schule gehen], so i was wrong the modal müssen doesn’t go to the end of the sentence. Perhaps it is because it’s seen as a standalone clause, and not within a whole sentence or paragraph of words, i don’t know.

Can you help me with this please? do i have it wrong about ‘modal’ verbs ‘always’ going to the end of a sentence? or is that just in compound tenses in subordinate clauses that they go to the end? I think i am right in saying that, and in my grammar sections of the books i have they seem to use ‘modal’ verbs in second position in normal word order, is this also correct?

Finally: I would have written or spoken this phrase as… … [sie gehen zur Schule müssen], but i am only a simple language learner, and i don’t know much better as yet, ha ha. Also: I wish i could have written this in German but i can’t, so too bad. For now! Ich wünschte, ich hätte das auf Deutsch schreiben können, aber ich kann nicht, so schlecht. Zur Zeit!

June 30, 2018



If you use a modal verb you still would put the conjugated verb (in this case the modal verb ) at the second place of your sentence and the infinitive goes last.

Er kann am Montag nicht kommen.

Sie muss am Dienstag arbeiten.

Die Kinder dürfen die Bücher lesen.

Using longer sentences the rules remain the same. In the main clause the conjugated verb comes second in line and in a subclause the conjugated verb is last.

Wir können* am Dienstag zu hause bleiben, weil die Eltern arbeiten müssen**.

Sie muss die Hausaufgaben machen, wenn sie aus der Schule kommt.

I hope these examples will help you to clear the word order up when using modal verbs.


Yes, this simple explanation helps a lot.

Er kann am Montag nicht kommen. = He can not come on Monday. Sie muss am Dienstag arbeiten. = She has to work on Tuesday. Die Kinder dürfen die Bücher lesen. = The children may read the books. And, Wir können am Dienstag zu hause bleiben, weil die Eltern arbeiten müssen*. = We could remain at home on Tuesday, because the [our] parents have to work. And, Sie muss die Hausaufgaben machen, wenn sie aus der Schule kommt. = She must [has to] do the [her] Homework, when she comes comes from School.

I hope that's pretty close to the translations? Thank you.


Yes, you are mostly right. ;-)

Wir können am Dienstag zu hause bleiben,... = We can stay at home on Tuesday....

There is no need for the past tense of "can". You are welcome..


Yes, i see you mean [use] 'can' and not 'could' as i wrote. Thanks.


‘I can’t be bothered’ = das ist mir egal

‘never mind let’s do it tomorrow’. Oddly enogh I would say, "okay, wir machen das dann morgen. I a slightly irritated tone.

"I feel happy and also sad today’ = heute bin ich gluecklich und (zugleich) auch traurig.

like ‘oh no, not him again’ = oh nein, nicht er schon wieder.


Thank you for the German translations. I know Duo can't suit individual tastes in speech, and i see it builds-up your knowledge in a certain structured way, so the variations must come from your own self.


Has no-one anything to say, guess not, its too self-explanatory i assume and not worth commenting-on, oh well. Better luck next time Robert. Well it is Summertime and there are better things to do, so i'll go do them, boo hoo!! ha ha!!

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