Dictionary verb *skel- sollen


to be obliged to, to shall, should
(The core idea is a man-made obligation.)
Opposite (closest): wollen


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The Verb 2 - The Modal Verbs

Let's get to know the German modal verbs (and one of their verb friends). We'll learn what they mean and how to conjugate them. With lots of audio examples.

Word Family

Root: *skel-

The root is not 100% certain and it might just be a Germanic or Northern European root.
The core idea in either case was:

being under an obligation

The only family members in English are shall and its version should. The German side of the tree is a bit bigger with Schuld being the word for debt and also guilt. Which at their core are both an obligation.

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2 months ago

Hi Emanuel, Came here hoping for an explanation of “sollen” vs “sollten” so here is another vote for an article on the topic :)

3 months ago

I followed the link about to the modal verbs (sollen) and got your warning “You will become confused about sollen and sollten at some point in your journey…”

Na ja, ich bin da! :) I am wondering if YDG went down that rabbit hole and I am just not finding it, or was it put on the back burner.

I’m getting conflicting answers from Lingoni German (“Jenny”) and Google when I try to make my own examples for flashcards when using past tense. I trust her, but when I change nouns and verbs it is nice to have Ms Google make sure I didn’t screw something up.

I totally get the basics of Sollen and Sollten. “Am supposed to” versus a very general “should” without any specified ramifications.
However, for past tense Sollen, well…this is where things get jacked up for me. Let me know if there is more on Sollen on YDG than that one page I found. Thanks

3 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Today on the main story (update of YDG) you mentioned DeepL and Ligoni. Sadly, I had never heard of them. I went to DeepL and typed in “Ich sollte ein Nickerchen machen” and it gave me casual should, but (yes!) it also gave me two different versions of past tense ‘supposed to’ as possible translations.

Yesterday I recorded a bassoonist from Zürich. Sie heißt Maria. I will always see her in my mind when I read your examples.

Anyway, I think I can put this topic aside in my brain for a while, however, can you explain why in the example above – two friends talking about what food they would like to eat – sollen is used? I had it in my mind that all casual recommendations are sollten.

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