For example, "You had better clean your room!"

This is a phrase that might be spoken from a parent to a child, and heavily implies that there will be consequences if the action isn't performed. You can also say something like "The package better have been delivered." which means that expectations were set and you are depending on it for some reason or other, and you are going to be angry/upset if your expectations aren't met.

The closest I can think of would be some use of either müssen or sollen, but they don't really convey the same meaning as the above English phrase. I suppose it might be done with one of those fancy particles, but my grasp of when to use those is loose at best.

My best guess is something like, "Du musst bloß dein Schlafzimmer putzen!"

  • 6
    Questions of this kind will have fewer low quality answers if they explain the nuances of the English expression. As it is, you rely on someone having a very good grasp of both English and German.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 22:04
  • @CarstenS Good point, I added a description of my understanding of the meaning of this phrase in English.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 14:10

3 Answers 3


»sollen« and »müssen« are not bad for this, I would translate it to

Du solltest [mal / lieber mal] dein Zimmer putzen!

or to

Du müsstest [mal] dein Zimmer putzen!

or to this passive construction:

Dein Zimmer müsste/sollte [mal] geputzt werden!

(all samples use subjunctive II of »sollen« or »müssen«)

Use of »bloß« is also possible here, but saying

Putz bloß dein Zimmer!

would be a quite strong demand, almost a threat.
Same if you replace »bloß« by »ja«.
Both versions (usually with »aufräumen«) are typical for an angry mother to her child, pure or followed by a »Sonst knallts!« which is a threat to get a hit, e. g. a box on the ears.


I think that German would be the plainer language in this case and just use Präsenz/Indikativ.

Du räumst besser dein Zimmer auf!

If you want to throw in a particle, maybe to indicate that it would be about time:

Du räumst besser mal dein Zimmer auf!

  • Doesn't besser as used here always imply an alternative that's been discussed (for instance as a response to Gehen wir ein Eis essen?)? In English there's no implied alternative.
    – Endre Both
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 23:02
  • 1
    @EndreBoth: The implied alternative are the (artificial or inherent) problems ensuing from not tidying up. I think the threat of such problems is indeed implied in English, as well (or why else should tidying up a more urgent suggestion than a mere voluntary option as in "You could tidy up your room."?). There is no requirement in German that those problems have been made explicit. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 4:44

You can translate it with the pretty formal

Es wäre besser, Du säubertest Dein Zimmer.

or you use the informal

Du säuberst besser Dein Zimmer.

After such a sentence there is an expectation of a punishment if you do not do that.

Whereas your version

Du musst bloß dein Schlafzimmer putzen

is like you get something great after that (maybe a surprise).

  • 1
    +1, but please correct you first example. Es wäre besser, Du säubertest Dein Zimmer.
    – Janka
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 17:29
  • @Janka Thanks, I had "aufräumen" first.
    – TeXnician
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 17:30
  • The examples given are formally correct, but nobody would say this in real life. There are common associations of nouns and verbs. Das Zimmer aufräumen. Das Zimmer saubermachen. Die Zähne putzen. Die Küche putzen. Das Schlafzimmer saugen. Im Schlafzimmer saubermachen. - In the world where I live, "putzen" relates to things with a plain surface; in a kitchen surfaces usually are plain; in a bedroom they tend to be fluffy of some kind, therefore "putzen" seems odd to me here, although of course if you happen to have a plain-surfaced bedroom... Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:53
  • @ChristianGeiselmann The version with "putzen" is not mine, it was mentioned in the OP. But my point is that the construction is grammatically correct (in translation).
    – TeXnician
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 14:40

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