22 votes

Are sentences such as “wir waren essen” grammatically correct?

This construction is the so called "Absentive", which is still disputed, but can be found in many European languages. Basically "Wir waren essen" means "We were off eating". The trick is the location ...
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  • 7,226
16 votes
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Non-modal verbs as helping verbs (“I hear you coughing”)

The most direct equivalent to such constructions is an accusative-and-infinitive construction (AcI). It can be used with verbs of perception and similar and the subject of the action that is perceived ...
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  • 21.5k
15 votes
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Konjunktiv 2 mit Modalverben

Nein, sie haben nicht die gleiche Bedeutung. Der erste Satz nutzt den Konjunktiv II der Vergangenheit im Hauptsatz, der zweite nutzt den Konjunktiv II der Gegenwart. Im ersten Beispiel hat Mark den ...
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  • 21.5k
14 votes
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What are the linguistic/historical reason of different conjugation of modal verbs?

Most of the modal verbs are so-called preterite-presents (Präteritopräsentien). A demonstrative example is the German verb wissen (though commonly not counted as modal). "Regular" verbs have an -e ...
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  • 7,433
13 votes

Is putting an adverbial after the non-finite verb okay?

Neither sentence is wrong. German word order is rather flexible, and while there is a tendency to have the second part of a split verb at the end, it isn't always the case. Possible reasons for ...
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  • 19.5k
13 votes

Is putting an adverbial after the non-finite verb okay?

The sentence is correct. While it is much more common to have the verb at the end, in this particular case there is an emphasis on the need to return, while the destination is rather a side ...
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  • 18.8k
13 votes

Why are there three verbs in a row?

One linguist once suggested analysing these sentences in terms of "multiplication" and "division", as if they were equations. Ich verstecke mich. | × kann Ich kann mich verstecken....
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12 votes
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Is ‘mögen’ plus verb an indication of ‘maybe’?

That is exactly right. That is its use as a Modalverb. A better translation, in my opinion, would be may not maybe, which is actually what you used in your example translation. Quoting from the Duden'...
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  • 1,238
11 votes

How is the verb "sollen" normally conjugated

First of all: German tenses are very different from English tenses. German has only 6 tenses, English has 16. And German tenses are used very different. Gegenwart, a German tense similar to English ...
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10 votes

Does "wollen" ever function like English "will" to signal a future event (no volition)

Short answer: No, not in contemporary German. Slightly longer answer: "wollen" implies an intention, not a prediction. It literally translates to "want" in English - and works the same in every way ...
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  • 2,434
10 votes
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Tensed verb preceding infinitive verb in modal relative clauses?

The reason they put the sentence in this order is a pun with a very common German proverb of unknown origin: Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen. The word order was ...
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10 votes
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Three verbs in one sentence

"I want to swim" vs. "I want to go swimming" -- same thing. The difference is that strictly spoken in the first, you desire the action itself (as in, "I want to swim, not just only lie in the sun", ...
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  • 4,645
10 votes
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Importance of “gerade” to express “just about to”

In general, being "just about to [do something]" means that the action is in the immediate future, not already ongoing. Possible translations would be "kurz davor sein, [etwas] zu [tun]&...
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  • 16.5k
9 votes
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Meaning of "will" + present perfect

It means the signal "that they claim to have located", i.e. it's unconfirmed.
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  • 19.1k
9 votes
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Infinitiv + »zu« + Modalverb?

Diese Form hat meines Wissens keinen besonderen Namen. Es gibt die Konstruktion Modalverb + Infinitiv, mit der man Sätze bildet wie: Ich kann spielen. In die Figur rennen zu lassen liegt kein ...
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  • 7,433
9 votes
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How "So was brauchst du dem Herrn doch nicht zu erzählen" means what it means

If I understand you correctly you seem to be mainly confused by the start of the second sentence. So was doesn't mean so what. It is a short, rather colloquial form of so etwas and means something ...
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  • 18.8k
9 votes
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Word order with ‘leider’ at the beginning of a negated sentence

Both are correct, but they mean different things. Nicht always negates the part of the sentence that comes after it. So: Leider kann nicht ich kommen negates "ich": Unfortunately, it's not me who ...
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  • 6,956
9 votes

gefallen v. mögen - what do I use?

Your teacher isn't wrong per se, but this distinction isn't followed that strictly in everday life. The two words have a slightly different focus. You might say, "mögen" puts the focus more ...
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9 votes
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Was ist der Unterschied zwischen "dürfen" und "können"?

In der Umgangssprache sind beide Versionen mittlerweile möglich und gebräuchlich. Es gibt dennoch einen Unterschied. Strenggenommen fragt darf nach der Erlaubnis etwas zu tun, während kann danach ...
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  • 14k
9 votes
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lernen as a modal verb

The verb "lernen" is not a modal verb. German has 6 modal verbs, and they are: dürfen Ich darf schwimmen. - I may swim. können Ich kann schwimmen. - I can swim. mögen Ich mag ...
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8 votes
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Ungewöhnliche Kombination der Perfekt-Form und der Modalverben

Modalverbe gehen nicht mit Perfekt. Ein Muttersprachler sagte mir einmal auf dem Beispielsatz »Er hat den Apfel essen können«, dass er es versteht, aber man spricht nicht so, und ich muss es immer mit ...
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  • 38k
8 votes
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Is it possible that there is no verb in a sentence?

Like in English, there are similar modal verbs (Modalverben) in German. These are dürfen, können, mögen, müssen, sollen und wollen. Mostly, they are "modelling" the main verb but it is also possible ...
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  • 3,597
8 votes
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Finites Verb vor dem doppelten Infinitv

Prinzipiell gilt absteigende Reihenfolge. laut einer Studie, die demnächst veröffentlicht3 werden2 soll1 Das finite Verb kann vorangestellt werden. Gewünscht waren Fälle, in denen ein Modalverb ...
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8 votes

Why are there three verbs in a row?

In addition to David Vogt's explanation: in English you can use the very similar word ordering with three "verbs" to the same meaning and similar reasoning (the 'to hide' and 'be able' are ...
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  • 5,274
7 votes

Difference between "Das sollst du nicht" and "Das solltest ..."

Du sollst nicht töten. This is one of the ten commandments of the Bible. It is like an imperative. Arzt: Sie sollten nicht rauchen. Recommendations are given in this form.
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  • 7,742
7 votes
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Difference between "etwas zu trinken" and "etwas trinken"

Maybe the difference is best explained by translating both sentences: Ich möchte etwas zu trinken: I would like something to drink. The person is stating, that he/she desires the object (or ...
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