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I often find myself wanting to make a polite-but-informal suggestion like the English "Shall we meet tomorrow?", and not knowing whether to say "Wollen wir uns morgen treffen?" or "Sollen wir uns morgen treffen?".

  1. Are both technically correct?
  2. Is one considered more natural in this context/register?
  3. Is there a better third option?

(Note that I'm not trying to say "Should we meet tomorrow?", in the sense of "Is it appropriate for us to meet tomorrow?", nor am I trying to make an assertion like "Let's meet tomorrow."; I'm asking expecting a yes or no answer.)

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  1. Yes; they are both correct and quite similar.
  2. Neither is generally preferable, though "wollen" would be slightly more relaxed. "Sollen" would imply that there is need to meet in some way at some time (e.g. to sort things out or to comfort someone who just got hurt) or that there is a general agreement to meet and you are trying to set the specific date (like when you agreed to meet your friend when they visit your town but they have other things to do so you have to find a date within these days). "Sollen" is closer to the English "should", IMO, so if you don't want that, "wollen" is more fitting though both are correct, natural and common and can be used without creating any sense of pressure.
  3. No better option but two other suggestions: You can omit the modal verb and ask "Treffen wir uns morgen?" (can be used in any informal context). "Können wir uns morgen treffen?" can imply that the meeting is somewhat important or urgent but can also be used if you just want to meet the other person and maybe consider it a favor or if you make an agreement for a date. Generally this implies that you prefered "yes" for an answer more strongly than the other examples but it still allows for a "no".
  • Great answer, thanks! It's not clear to me what "without any urge" means. – Patrick Sanan Jul 5 at 12:52
  • If the situation is not urgent/ you don't want to urge the other person; if there is no hardship or emergancy. Can't one use that word in this way? – hajef Jul 5 at 12:56
  • That's not standard usage, as far as I (American native speaker) know. I'll edit to say "creating any sense of pressure". – Patrick Sanan Jul 5 at 14:30
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Northern German

Wollen wir uns morgen treffen?

No preconditions.

Sollen wir uns morgen treffen?

It's somewhat urgent. (E.g. the other person made some points which are easier to smooth out in a face-to-face meeting in your view.) Still a yes-no question.

Southern German

Wollen wir uns morgen treffen?

Not used. (As per comments.)

Sollen wir uns morgen treffen?

No preconditions. (As per comments.)


Both

Wir sollten uns morgen treffen.

You strongly suggest a meeting. Not a question any more.

  • 4
    I disagree. "Sollen wir uns morgen treffen" is not urgent at all. – infinitezero Jul 2 at 13:47
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    There is a very strong north-south difference that would affect this answer -in the south, no one would ever say "wollen wir uns morgen treffen". – tofro Jul 5 at 14:44
  • @tofro And "Sollen wir uns morgen treffen" is very neutral in the South. Almost made me downvote this answer. Maybe put a disclaimer about that in, @Janka? – sgf Jul 5 at 17:42
  • I'm not too familiar with Southern German. – Janka Jul 5 at 19:50
  • I'm from the South and find Wollen wir uns morgen treffen? unremarkable. – David Vogt Jul 5 at 19:54

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