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The "Modals" lesson & चाहिए

I've had more trouble with the Modals lesson than with any other lesson (except, maybe, the second past tense one).

I think my biggest problem is चाहिए. If you conjugate it for a person (e.g. नेहा पानी चाहती है = Neha wants water), it's pretty straightforward. But it also seems to mean "need" as well as "want?" There's a sentence that's something like, "मुझे सोना चाहिए," which Duolingo translates as "I need sleep." I'm assuming this is a bit like the Spanish "Me gusta," in that the literal translation is more like "sleep is needed by me." But how does one tell when it's used in the sense of "want," and when it's used in the sense of "need?"

I think I'm slowly getting the hang of other things in the modals lesson, although I'm still having trouble figuring out when to use "को." But चाहिए is really the biggest issue. Anyone have valuable wisdom for me?

July 1, 2020

1 Comment


The verb चाहना and its other forms except for चाहिए always mean 'want'. चाहता is the masculine singular form, चाहती is the feminine form and चाहते is the masculine plural form.

Eg: राज बैंगलोर जाना चाहता है। - Raj wants to go to Bangalore
वे सोना चाहते हैं। - They want to sleep
जनता शान्ति चाहती है - The public wants peace

On the other hand, चाहिए can be treated as a separate word of its own. It means 'should'/'need to' (when used with a verb) and 'need' or a stronger/more immediate form of 'want' (when used with a noun)
So, मुझे सोना चाहिए means 'I need to sleep'/'I should sleep'. (Note: सोना is the verb 'to sleep'. The noun 'sleep' would be नींद)
When using चाहिए, the subject is always conjugated as noun+को or in the dative form (मुझे, तुम्हे, आपको, उसे etc) if its a pronoun. The literal translation can be thought of as 'To me, sleeping is needed'.

मुझे बैंगलोर जाना चाहिए। - I need to go to Bangalore
उसे आकाशवाणी पर गाना चाहिए।- She should sing on the radio
नेहा को सौ रुपये चाहिए। - Neha needs ₹100 (expresses a stronger sentiment than नेहा सौ रुपये चाहती है)
मुझे आम चाहिए - I want a mango (expresses a more immediate sentiment than मैं आम चाहता हूँ as in you are saying you want a mango right now rather than at some point in the future)

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