I have come across this use of wollen in an article:

Die verbreitete Annahme, Männer schwitzten stärker als Frauen, wollen australische Forscher vor drei Jahren in einer Untersuchung mit 60 Probanden widerlegt haben.

I can guess from the context that the meaning is "The researchers claimed to have proved...". Is this correct?

  • Other modal verbs also have less well known uses like this. In grammar literature it is referred to as „subjektiver Gebrauch der Modalverben“, in case you want to read up on this. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 8:30
  • The question was answered but I'd like to add a source which elaborates on this: deutschplus.net/pages/Subjektive_Bedeutung_der_Modalverben
    – sdraeger
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Your assumption is correct.

See Duden, meaning 1d).

This usage of wollen expresses that the author is skeptical with respect to the researchers' claim.

  • that's nonsense. konjunktiv 1 is not sceptical, jts agnostic and the usual mood for reported speech. preterite would mean konjunktiv 2, irrealis, so that's principally not used. those distictions are a minefield however, because there's no strict rule that summaries had to be written in present tense.
    – vectory
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 0:00

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