Screen width of at least 320px is required. Screen width can be adjusted by widening your browser window or adjusting your mobile device settings. If you are on a mobile device, you can also try orienting to landscape.

Using Modal Verbs in the Past


I. Theory

Modal verbs are often used in conjunction with other infinitives to convey ability, volition, or necessity. Examples in English include: can, want, and must. Although these verbs have both Perfekt (haben gekonnt) and Präteritum (konnten) forms, each is found in specific contexts.

II. Modal Verbs in Perfekt (present perfect)

German modal verbs are found in the present perfect only when they do not accompany an infinitive. This is rare as most of the time, an infinitive is necessary. However, infinitives are sometimes inferred by context. The modal past participles are: gedurft, gekonnt, gemocht, gemusst, gesollt, and gewollt.

Sie hat kein Deutsch gekonnt.
She couldn’t (speak) German.

Gestern habe ich in die Stadt gemusst.
Yesterday, I had (to go) into the city.

Das habe ich nicht gewollt.
I didn’t want that.

III. Modal Verbs in Präteritum

German modal verbs are very often found in the imperfect when in the past. In this form, they are able to used in conjunction with the infinitive just like in the present tense.

End of free content.

To access this material, please LOG IN.

If you don't have a subscription, please click HERE to sign up for this program.