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I've seen such text on the doors to one shop:

Der Hund will draußen bleiben

I understand the meaning of the text, because from the context it was quite clear, that the dogs are banned from entering the shop, and not that they want to stay outside (taking into account, there are sausages inside, no dog would probably like to be outside).

However, that was intrigued me, is, what is the role of 'will' in that sentence? Is this a modal verb, which is in that context a synonym of 'soll'? Or it is a strange passive? Or it's just a text with humorous intentions?

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I've only seen "Wir müssen draußen bleiben". Vielleicht ist dein Satz einfach "netter". – c.p. Mar 28 '14 at 19:20
Direct translation: The dog wants to stay outside. – nalply Mar 28 '14 at 22:16
I have never seen this and it feels like a bad translation to me. – Phira Mar 29 '14 at 1:45
It may be a variant of 'Der Hund möge (bitte) draußen bleiben." -> "Der Hund möchte draußen bleiben." -> "Der Hund will draußen bleiben." Very unfortunate translation, though. Don't know if it was okay once, but in modern times such constructs aren't used anymore. – LarissaGodzilla Apr 28 '14 at 7:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

"Wollen" is same as "to want", but sometimes it can be used as "should", but to me as a native speaker this can sound distancing and arrogant.


Wollen Sie bitte dies zur Kenntnis nehmen.

If someone would write this in an email to me I would be galled.

The sentence "Der Hund will draußen bleiben." sounds to me whether someone didn't want to take the responsibility to forbid dogs inside. He is taking the detour to shift the volition to stay outside to the dog. I don't find it humorous.

Perhaps I am being a bit touchy.

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It seems quite rude to me as well. I am usually in favour of smoking bans, but I still dislike telling people not to smoke "for their own convenience". – Phira Mar 29 '14 at 1:46
Concerning this sign at a shop, I'd call you a bit touchy indeed. It's the shop owners right to forbid dogs (except help dogs). Concerning the email text, this is quite arrogant, but nothing unusual in German bureaucracy. – Toscho Mar 29 '14 at 10:05

Definitely humorous. "Wollen" is a modal verb but it always signals intent. There are phrasings that use it differently

Die Hausaufgaben wollen gemacht sein.

The homework has to be done/is to be done.

Even this sounds quite a lot like "want to" to me, but anyway, this seems different to the dog example though as "bleiben" isn't passive at all.

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It's exactly the same as the dogs example. A human norm is referred to some non-human and therefore non-testable volition or intent. – Toscho Mar 29 '14 at 10:07

Der Hund will draußen bleiben.


The (your) dog wants to remain outside.


You (customer)! Leave your dog outside!

It is indirect and polite. Not directly addressing the customer. Since it's the dog being addressed and the customer is the master of the dog. The customer has the choice of leaving the dog outside or granting him permission. Vs being asked or forced to leave him outside.

So you could call it reverse psychology.

I think your question want's to be answered by my answer. Does it not?

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Indirect: maybe. but polite: no! If somebody is telling me what my dog wants to do in such a rigid way he's implicitly saying that he can tell better what my dog wants to than I do. This is a very authoritative and arrogant act, hypocritically disguised as polite. – tflo Nov 9 '14 at 16:40

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