From the Frankfurter Allgemeine:

Apples und Facebooks Angebot, ihren Mitarbeiterinnen künftig eine Frist-Freikarte für die Reproduktion zu spendieren, hat eine Debatte ausgelöst, die keine sein dürfte. Es ist nämlich, aus medizinischer Sicht, ein ganz und gar unmoralisches Angebot.

What does "die keine sein dürfte" mean here? Does "keine" refer to "Debatte"?

I think it should mean roughly "a debate that should not have been (started)", but I don't understand why "dürfte" is used here.

2 Answers 2


The base phrase

etw. darf nicht sein
(often in the form of) Das darf doch nicht sein!

literally means that something is not allowed to be/must not be (following some set of rules), but is almost exclusively used for things that are happening, inferring the disfavor of the speaker: "I can't believe this is happening [since it's not allowed], right?"

etw. dürfte nicht sein

on the other hand, expresses that something is happening and that it is apparently being tolerated (implicitly allowing it), which - following the writers opinion - shouldn't be. Similarly to how you need this subjunctive in English, you need the dürfte in the text (Konjunktiv II / Irrealis).

A literal translation would look like this:

A debate that shouldn't be one.

I'm not sure that can be said in English, so here are some other tries:

A debate, that shouldn't have become one in the first place.
...initiated a debate, where there shouldn't be one.
...now there's a debate, where there shouldn't have been one in the first place.


You're correct in assuming that it means a debate that should not have been

A literal translation would be

A debate that should not have been allowed

Mind you, this is not in the sense of "should have been forbidden".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.