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I saw this phrase and I was kinda boggled by it. I know that it means "let the games begin", but it doesn't seem like imperativ to me, and the use of "mögen" is just mysterious here. Is there an omitted wir or sie? Is it just one old impression or some general usage rule that I'm missing?

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  • Welcome to GSE! What makes you think that doesn't look like imperative to you?
    – tofro
    Dec 28, 2022 at 10:54
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    @tofro For one, de.wiktionary.org and other sources imply that mögen doesn't have an imperativ form Dec 28, 2022 at 11:38
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    Does this one answer your question (same form, just that your example is plural): german.stackexchange.com/questions/43259/…
    – tofro
    Dec 28, 2022 at 12:02

1 Answer 1

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All modal verbs have some tricky uses, sometimes differing on the basis of grammatical mood.

Mögen die Spiele beginnen!
Möge das Fest beginnen!

By comparing these examples, one can see that i) the verb is in the present subjunctive (Konjunktiv I) and that ii) the noun phrase that follows is the subject.

The meaning is that of a wish ("optative", Wunschsatz). This use of mögen is pretty old-fashioned. That same meaning can often be expressed by the subjunctive alone, without mögen.

Möge Gott dir beistehen!
Stehe Gott dir bei!

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    Thanks, I see now that it uses Konjunktiv I. But is it optative mood though, it seems more like what @tofro mentioned, Jussiv, and in this case the meaning is "may" - "May the games begin", no? Dec 28, 2022 at 12:10
  • @KostyaBlinov Yes, exactly.
    – tofro
    Dec 28, 2022 at 12:16
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    German doesn't have an optative mood. It's just that the subjunctive serves a number of functions, one of which is expressing a wish.
    – David Vogt
    Dec 28, 2022 at 12:23

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