I've read through this post on the differences between müssen and sollen: Difference between “sollen” and “müssen”

I was trying to decide how to say "you should have told him" (e.g. that jumping off a cliff was dangerous) but I'm confused about the difference between the following two sentences.

I had thought the translation would be:

Das hättest du ihm sagen sollen.

however the answer (in the exercise book) was:

Das hättest du ihm sagen müssen.

What is the difference between the two sentences?

  • Whose answer do you mean?
    – c.p.
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 5:41
  • None of your examples is wrong for the translation. But I think it is a duplicate and well explained in the thread you reference.
    – Dirk
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Sollen, in your sentence 1, is more a recommendation; meaning it would have been your duty to tell him so.

Müssen, in sentence 2, would express absolute necessity. And in the given situation I would always use müssen. It is much stronger.

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