Sein Führerschein wurde letzten Monat abgenommen, aber er dürfte wieder fahren dürfen.

His driver's license was taken away last month, but he most likely is allowed to drive again.

Is the German sentence and the corresponding translation correct? In particular, "dürfte" is used to express likelihood, while "dürfen" is used to express permission.

Can we construct similar sentences with other modal verbs, e.g., sollen, müssen, können, mögen?

3 Answers 3


The German sentence is correct and so is the corresponding translation. Your analysis of the difference in meaning is correct, as well. Nevertheless, dürfte can also be used to express a state of unreality like every other Konjunktiv II of a verb.

Tim: "Wieso ist Lisa nicht hier? Haben ihre Eltern ihr das verboten?"
Tom: "Sie dürfte kommen, aber sie will für die Schule lernen."

Note that you can discern the meaning of the word dürfte in this case only through the context since Sie dürfte kommen could mean she will most likely come too.

I don't think you will ever come across a sentence where the verb dürfen is used in this Konjunktiv II form plus with another modal verb plus not meaning most likely. However, as far as I know, it would be grammatically correct.

Furthermore you can of course just use a modal verb other than dürfen as a second modal verb and the meaning of dürfen can still be most likely.

Hans: "Für diesen Job muss er drei Sprachen beherrschen, und zwar fließend."
Herbert: "Du solltest ihn zwar persönlich fragen, aber er dürfte mittlerweile schon acht Sprachen können."

Another combination of two modal verbs, which is quite common, is müssen and können.

Julien: "Julia, warum mühst du dich so mit diesen Übungsaufgaben ab. Entspann dich doch mal."
Julia: "Der Test ist in drei Tagen! Ich muss all diese Fragen beantworten können!"

You can do the same thing with sollen and können. Besides, you could also change muss to müsste. It wouldn't mean the same as dürfte though.

Moreover according to this site it's grammatically correct to combine können with können etc., but don't do this!!

"Ich will das wollen."

I'm not really sure if it makes sense ... I want to want it??

That web page also cites Immanuel Kant:

"Kant sagte, man muss wollen können."

And some graffiti in Berlin:

"Die, die können sollen, müssen wollen dürfen."

(I think it means that those who have to work should have the right to demand something in return ...)

But that's of course just a game with words ...


Yes, that is possible, because both instances of "dürfen" don't have the same meaning here. But I don't find it really fitting, I would have said "aber er wird wohl wieder fahren dürfen* - "wird + INF" means "most likely" in some contexts too, and the use of the modal particle "wohl" highlights this use.

You can construct similar sentences:

Er muss nachsitzen
He (actually) has to be in detention.
Er müsste nachsitzen müssen.
I think/have the opinion that he has to have detention.


Er kann Klavier spielen.
He is able to play piano.
Er könnte Klavier spielen können.
He may be able to play the piano.


Er mag Kuchen.
He likes cake.
Er möchte Kuchen mögen.
He wants to like cake.

Special case here because of the extreme shift in meaning between mögen -> möchte.


Er will einen Kuchen essen.
He wants to eat a cake.
Wenn er hungrig wäre, wollte er Kuchen essen.
If he would be hungry, he would want to eat a cake.

You can't use "wollen" easily like the other words in a single sentence, because "wollte" would be interpreted as Präteritum and not Konjunktiv II.

Er soll viel trinken.
He should drink a lot.
Er sollte viel trinken sollen (aber niemand hat es ihm gesagt).
He should have to drink a lot (, but no one told him).

Now these examples are a little strange and you won't hear that a lot. But it is a funny exercise to create a big verbal complex, like creating big compound nouns.

By the way, both instances are a modal verb. The main verb in your example is "fahren".


nicht ganz korrekt, es fehlt ihm:

Sein Führerschein wurde ihm letzten Monat abgenommen, aber er dürfte wieder fahren dürfen.

Die Übersetzung ist etwas zu positiv:

His driver's license was taken away last month, but he (most) likely is allowed to drive again.

Ich würde eher nur sagen likely, da im Deutschen keine Verstärkung zu dürfen da ist.

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