I am writing a short self-indroduction for my German A1.1 Class, and I need to say this sentence:

I like to program (programming), watch NBA and read science books.

As I looked at some translators, the “best” solution for the first part seemed to be:

Ich mag programmieren.

Why should I use mag and not möchte?

  • 2
    Why do you think that you should use "möchte"? (I think you mean "möchte" and not "mochte")
    – Eller
    Oct 9, 2017 at 15:01
  • Thanks for your edit. I further edited your question to reduce it to a single issue. Please ask your second question (about watching NBA) separately. Also, are you sure that you want to replace mag with mochte and not möchte?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 9, 2017 at 15:01
  • 2
    Going back to your original sentence. Ich programmiere gern is a more idiomatic way of translating it
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 10, 2017 at 9:08
  • Translator programmes are a pest. People take the weirdest translations from them. - I am working EU wide with variuos organisations, and they sometimes send me project exposés they wrote in, say, Italian, and think they help me by feeding it into Google translate for English. Really, the Italian original is easier to understand than what they get back as "English". - Don't use translator programmes for languages you do not know! Oct 10, 2017 at 13:57

4 Answers 4

  • Ich möchte = I want to + simple form

    Ich möchte programmieren = I want to program.
    Ich möchte schlafen. = I want to sleep.
    Ich möchte essen. = I want to eat.

  • Ich mag = I like + progressive form

    Ich mag programmieren = I like programming.
    Ich mag schlafen. = I like sleeping.
    Ich mag essen. = I like eating.

  • 4
    »Ich mag schlafen« or »Ich mag essen« isn’t really well-formed German.
    – Devon
    Oct 9, 2017 at 19:21
  • 1
    Bavarian "I mog di" ("Ich mag dich") is equivalent to "I love you". Oct 10, 2017 at 14:02
  • 2
    Mag kommt von mögen und kann auch als Vorliebe zu etwas gedeutet werden. In diesem Sinne würde ich im englischen eher "i enjoy coding, sleeping, eating." schreiben. "Ich möchte" ist auch nicht so stark wie "ich will" und sollte im englischen dann eher als "i would like to" statt "I want to" übersetzt werden.
    – Matthias
    Oct 13, 2017 at 20:55

"Mag" is present tense, "mochte" is past tense. Or do you mean "möchte". That's to express your intention as in "I would like to" or "I want to".

  • Yes I meant möchte, ah okay so I've been using möchte wrong for the last month then haha. Thank you very much! Oct 9, 2017 at 16:26

Ich mag programmieren = I like programming (and I am able to do it)
Ich möchte programmieren = I want to programm (but I may have to learn it before, or I have to buy a compiler before). You may say to a waiter ich möchte etwas essen when you are hungry and you would like to order something to eat.


The best translation for I have found for möchte is I would like to. On the other hand mag can be equal to I like.

Ich möchte programmieren = I would like to program.

Ich mag programmieren = I like programming

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