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  5. "You are supposed to eat!"

"You are supposed to eat!"

Translation:Ihr sollt essen!

July 1, 2018



I would have thought the German sentence means "you shall eat" rather than "supposed to eat" Could it mean both?


Is there a bigger difference between the two in English? In can only see that "shall" is like a direct command/suggestion while "to be supposed to" is somehow indirect, omitting who wants someone to do something. In German I would translate both as "Ihr sollt essen".


‘Shall’ (when indicating a suggestion) sounds much stronger, like a command. It either indicates an imperative or a strong intention. ‘To be supposed to’ is more about expectations. It's what people assume will happen, it's this expectation that gives urgency.

I feel like I would express this better with some examples:

  • ‘My creation shall work!’: I am fully determined to make an effort in order for it to work, I will not fail in this endeavor (‘meine Kreation wird bestimmt funktionieren!’);

  • ‘My creation is supposed to work’: every piece is in the right place, there is no reason why it should fail; based on what I know about it, I expect it to work (‘meine Kreation soll funktionieren’, if I understand the meaning of ‘sollen’).


  • ‘I will not speak to you’: I don't want to speak to you and I shall take the necessary steps;

  • ‘I am not supposed to speak to you’: someone (maybe everyone, maybe me) doesn't want me to speak to you, they (or I) think it would be wrong and this might prevent me from speaking to you.


  • ‘They shall listen to me’: they will listen, whether they like it or not, because I say so;

  • ‘They are supposed to listen to me’: I am in a position where people normally listen to me, it would be weird if they didn't; might be used to lament the fact that someone is not listening to you when they should.


I read the sentence as follows "You should eat" if it is the imperative form "Sei sollst essen" which would be in the Du case or in the Ihr form its would be "Seid sollt essen" correct me if I'm wrong.


Shouldn't imperative also work here? like "soll essen"?

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