Am Sonntag will sich nach Angaben von Diplomaten der UN-Sicherheitsrat mit der Eskalation der Gewalt im Nahen Osten befassen.

What does "wollen" here mean? It clearly doesn't mean "to want".

  • 9
    While "to want" may not be the most elegant translation, it fits semantically.
    – RHa
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 20:56
  • 8
    Seems like this can be answered with a dictionary, for example Wiktionary lists "to intend, to mean" as a possible meaning, and that makes sense with the context.
    – RDBury
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 21:26
  • 1
    Playing dictionary: Yes, 'wollen' means 'to want', 'to intend to' or 'to aim for', or 'will/shall'
    – user41853
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 10:26
  • And btw., the google translator translates it correctly into English.
    – user41853
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 13:02
  • 1
    It might help to add why you think it doesn't mean "to want". When looking at the sentence, I guess that the true difficulty for a learner might rather be identifying the subject correctly. Maybe your confusion arose because "to want" doesn't make sense with what you think is the subject.
    – Arsak
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 14:26

3 Answers 3


You can translate it as "to plan" or "to intend" if you like, that would convey the sense nicely and is probably the best translation.

I agree with @choXer's answer though in that German "will" as it's used here is pretty close to English "will" in future tense. English had two different modal verbs for future tense for a long time, "will" and "shall", and you can see a clear relation to "wollen" und "sollen". "Shall" isn't used as much any more, but when both were prevalent, the future tense with "will" was used to talk about something that the speaker initiates or decides, something that they intend to do and then do. "Shall" was used if someone or something else is involved in the decision. (I might be simplifying a bit here.)

So in this sense, translating with "will" here isn't totally wrong either, although the sense of intention that "wollen" carries isn't quite as strong any more in modern English "will".


This is a special usage of wollen and sollen in reported speech, which you will see a lot if you read the news for example.

In this case, the usage of those verbs are:

  1. sollen is softer and more neutral, it indicates that the report is unsure if the news is official or confirmed, for example they only heard it through someone else saying so.

For example, a spokesperson of the Health Minister Mr. Spahn told the press that his schedule today was very busy, but probably he could still have time later today to get vaccinated, but she’s not sure. Then the press would say

Spahn soll heute geimpft werden.

which could be understood as

It’s reported that Spahn would be vaccinated today.

  1. wollen is however stronger and less neutral, it’s used when the statement is reported from the official source.

For example, the next morning Spahn spoke with the press himself and claimed that he was too busy so he will get vaccinated next Monday actually. Then the press would write:

Spahn will am nächsten Montag geimpft werden.

which means something like

Spahn claimed he would be vaccinated next Monday.

  • 1
    Spahn will nächsten Montag geimpft werden may not be the best example, since he himself cannot know either if the statement will turn out true. It sounds more like he actually wants to. Less ambiguous is: Spahn will letzten Montag geimpft worden sein. Commented May 17, 2021 at 22:06
  • 1
    @amadeusamadeus: that's not the use of "will" that is in the sentence in the question either though. IMHO the answer misses the point, the sentence in the question doesn't use the "will" or "soll" of indirect speech, it's clearly about intent. IMHO you cannot use "wollen" in the sense of relaying a statement for something that is in the future because that would always evoke the sense of intent.
    – HalvarF
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 22:31
  • @HalvarF I agree that both mingle in case of statements about the future, that is exactly why I think Spahn will sich impfen lassen sounds more like an intent. However, if someone says ich befasse mich morgen damit, and someone else reports it as er will sich morgen damit befassen, will is somehow both, I guess: device of intent and reported speech. I'm still wondering about it, however. Commented May 17, 2021 at 23:27

I think it can be translated with "going to" or "planning on". One reason why this sentence might be difficult to understand might be its unusual grammatial structure: The "will" refers to the "UN-Sicherheitsrat" planning on addressing violence in the middle east and all of this is according to diplomats.

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