Friday, 6 February 2009

Modal verbs and word order

I like modal verbs. They are the verbs that tell you something about the verb that follows it. This may be whether things have to be done or might be done or can be done. They are good in German because they are always followed by the infinitve, which you will find at the end of the sentence, so here an example of the verb at the end is.

Do you remember any teachers who answered the question 'can I see it' with 'you mean may I see it'? It sounds strange because everyone communicates really well in English when they say 'can I..?' Now in German it is important to get it right, because if you say 'kann ich schwimmen?' you are asking someone eles if you are able to swim. How do they know? You have to say 'darf ich schwimmen' if you want to ask permission. So learning a foreign language makes English so much more easy to understand, and don't think badly of the teacher who corrected you because 'may' is what you should have said.

Kann ich ein Bier haben? Quite possibly if you are an adult but you will not get one unless you say 'darf ich ein Bier haben?' or you could simply ask for 'ein Bier bitte'.

Bis bald

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