Thursday, 27 October 2011

Darf ich...

I was looking at one of those cheap phrase books and it started with some grammar. I opened the page on auxiliary verbs. It didn't explain the meaning of auxiliary but it means that it provides help or support. If I give this type of verb their full title they are modal auxiliary verbs and the mode bit means they provide mood. In English they are verbs like would, could, can or may.

The page that I opened showed how to decline the verb dürfen which means to be allowed to (or more usually we say 'may') and it reminded me of the way I was taught German in the 1970s. Ich darf, du darfst, er darf - you get the idea. As a teenager I felt my language training meant I could decline nouns and conjugate verbs but it is the rest of the phrase book which is not only much more interesting but also much more useful if communication is important to you.

The beauty of modal auxiliary verbs is that the verb with which they combine stays in the infinitive. You don't have to think about the second verb so that must be helpful. So some examples that are easy to use are darf ich mich vorstellen? If you want to introduce another person you just say darf ich xxx vorstellen? Just as in English you could say darf ich and then make a gesture but then you don't get to use an infinitive.

The only example my book gives for dürfen is 'darf ich rauchen?' It's not a common verb to use nowadays, especially if you don't smoke but at least you get to add on a simple infinitive.

Bis bald

No comments:

Post a Comment