modals - GreenButterSolutions

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die modalen Hilfsverben - the modals - the defective auxiliaries

Das größte Problem mit den modals ist ihre Bedeutung. Jedes modale Hilfsverb kann mehrere Bedeutungen haben. Wenn ein Sprecher oder Schreiber sich für dieses und nicht jenes defective auxiliary entscheidet, dann will er durch seine Wahl seinem Gegenüber damit etwas Bestimmtes mitteilen.

Die Schwierigkeit ist also, das richtige modale Hilfsverb mit der richtigen, der gewünschten Bedeutung nämlich, in Einklang zu bringen.

Die modalen Hilfverben drücken die Stimmung und die Einstellung des Sprechenden oder Schreibenden zu dem auf das modale Hilfsverb folgende Hauptverb aus.

Die verschiedenen Abstufungen von Sicherheit, Möglichkeit, Verpflichtung, Rat, Erwartung, Fähigkeit, Stimmung, etc. werden mithilfe der modals aus Sicht des Sprechenden oder Schreibenden ausgedrückt. So entscheidet sich also, ob z. B. can, may, must oder could, might oder should gebraucht wird.

Im Englischen unterscheiden sich die modalen Hilfsverben von den anderen Verben durch verschiedene Merkmale:

die modals werden immer von einem Infinitiv ohne to begleitet (aber: ought to, dare (to), used / not to)
     Zwar gibt es im Englischen auch andere Verben, welche mit einem Infinitiv ohne to stehen, diese erfüllen aber nicht die anderen Kriterien für modals .
sie werden bei Frage und Verneinung nicht mit do, does, did umschrieben
sie haben keinen richtigen Infinitiv
sie haben kein richtiges past tense (aber: can - could, dare - dared)
sie haben kein past participle
sie können nicht konjugiert werden (kein -s in der 3. Person Singular Präsens)
modals kommen nie im gleichen Prädikat nebeneinander vor.

Aufgrund dieser Tatsachen müssen Infinitive, Partizipien und die zusammengesetzten Zeiten durch Umschreibung oder durch sinnverwandte Verben ersetzt werden. Deshalb heißen die modalen Hilfsverben oft auch unvollständige Hilfsverben (defective auxiliaries). Sie stehen im Gegensatz zu have, be und do, die alle Tempora bilden können.

Es gibt die folgenden modalen Hilfszeitwörter:

Da die unvollständigen Hilfsverben nicht alle Zeiten bilden können, weil Infinitive und Partizipien fehlen, benötigt man Ersatzformen, die je nach Sprecher- oder Schreiber - Absicht verwendet werden:

positive form negative form
can cannot, can't
could could not, couldn't
shall shall not, shan't
should should not, shouldn't
will will not, won't
would would not, wouldn't
may may not, mayn't
might might not, mightn't
must -
- must not, mustn't
dare dare not, daren't
dared dared not
need need not, needn't
ought to ought not to, oughtn't to
used to used not to
modal auxiliary substitute example
can to be able to, to manage to We have been able to sell the house.
could to be able to, to manage to I was able to leave the town after the strike.

to be to, to be supposed to, to be said to, to be reported to, to be believed to The match was to have taken place yesterday. This is how you are supposed to do it. Wales is said to be very beautiful.

to be to, to be supposed to, to be said to,
to be reported to, to be believed to, ought to
I was to have met Jayne in front front of the
station, but unfortunately I completely forgot.
He was supposed to be here at three.
She was said to be very ugly.

to be prepared to, to be willing to,
to intend to, to want, to wish, to mean to, to be going to
The police are prepared to shoot.
They are not willing to shoot, but in self-defense they intend to.
He means to do it at once.

to be prepared to, to be willing to, to intend to, to want, to wish, to mean to, to be going to The strikers were not willing to leave the building. They were prepared to fight with the police, although they didn't intend to.
ought to should You should have come, but you didn't.

to be allowed to, to be permitted to, to be possible, to be uncertain Children are not allowed to climb trees. Neither are they permitted to drink alcohol. It is possible that he's gone out.

to be allowed to, to be permitted to, to be possible, to be uncertain He would be allowed to do it. The children were not permitted to play in the yard. It was possible that it would snow. It was uncertain that it would rain.

to have to,to have got to, to be obliged to, to be compelled to, to be forced to, need not, don't have to The children had to leave the premises. They have got to their classrooms. The workers were obliged to work late hours. Will they be compelled to go on strike? They didn't have to work on Sundays. The waiters didn't need to work on Wednesdays. The students were forced to work very hard.
must not to be obliged not to They will be obliged not to leave the house.

Für dare und used to gilt:

Unter den modalen Hilfsverben nimmt das stilistisch neutrale used to eine Sonderstellung ein, weil es nur als Vergangenheitsform zum Ausdruck eines früheren Zustandes oder einer ehemaligen Gewohnheit vorkommt.

dare kann in negativen Sätzen und Fragesätzen als unvollständiges Hilfsverb gebraucht werden. dared wird nur in der geschriebenen Sprache, meistens in der Literatur gebraucht. daren't ersetzt manchmal didn't dare.

used to → immer auf die Vergangenheit bezogen We used to go shopping on Wednesdays.
He used not to watch detective films.
Used you to go swimming a lot when you lived near the sea?
dare (to), (seltener) dared (to) Dare she come? She doesn't dare (to) leave the house.
No student in this class has ever dared (to) question the teacher's authority so far.

Welche verschiedenen Bedeutungen und Nuancen mißt der native speaker den modalen Hilfszeitwörtern bei?

Man sollte sich darüber klar sein, dass sich Bedeutungen überschneiden können.

modal auxiliary meaning example

Can you play the guitar?
When I was 18, I could go out as late as I wanted.
Sir, can I help you?
Can you write this letter for me?
You can do it like this. First ...
The summers in Ireland can be really hot.
John can be a real pest at times.
I'm sure you can open the tin.
Can your ticket be in your handbag?
I can't come to your party on Saturday.
I'm sure the match can't have started yet.
They can't have changed that rule again.

possibility (+ comparative)
impossibility (+ comparative)
Joff could walk by the age of 5 months.
This could be your lucky day.
Dad, she could be the one for you.
Could you turn on the lights, please?
We could go to the seaside tomorrow.
You could use my car while I am away.
I couldn't leave her alone with the state she's in.
Jack could have done much better in this test.
I'm sure you couldn't run faster.

formal rules
I shall give up smoking, I promise.
Shall we go to the movies tonight?
You shan't have anything for Xmas.
Sexism shall not be tolerated in this country.

polite order
unlikelihood (in case)
if + should
If you like Stephen King, you should read his last book.
Syd should work harder before the A-levels.
Next time you should carry a valid licence.
The bus should arrive before 10.
It was agreed upon that the wearing of seatbelts in cars should be made compulsory.
She was so surprised that I should remember her birthday that she started to cry.
Should I call a doctor?
You shouldn't shout at your parents like that.
Payments should be made by January, 1st.
I'm not helping them again in case they should call.
If he should call, tell him to ring again later.

typical behaviour
Oh, the bell's gone. That'll be the postman.
Will you do me a favour?
I'll go with them to the match tonight.
Will you please shut up?
- I won't do the washing-up. - Yes, you will.
She'll sit in the classroom and daydream all morning.
He will smoke too many cigs when he goes out.
I will wash the dishes if you dry.

Would you like a glass of wine?
Would you buy a house for me?
Would you come to my party on Friday?
We would catch little fish, sleep in our tents, ...
What a big letter. Would it be from Mom?
I would not again pay for the damage.
Would you like to play in the next match?

ought to
If you like golf, you ought to enjoy that course.
They ought to smoke less.
You ought not to shout like mad.
The bus ought not to take longer than an hour.
You ought to be ashamed for what you did.

unreal situation
There may be a cure for cancer in a few years.
If I knew her better, I might ask her for the next dance.
You may not borrow my biro this time.
May I give you a piece of advice?
May the Lord bless you.
We may not go to the beach because it looks like rain.

polite prohibition
It might rain.
Might I see him for a moment?
You might be more careful not to stand on the flowerbeds.
Might I suggest we have lunch in a restaurant?
He might have left his hat in the car.
We might not go for a run because it looks like rain.
There might be a drastic rise in the price of wood.

feeling sure
strong suggestion
personal feelings
strong advice
You must see a doctor.
I must go to the shop before it closes.
It's 5. They must be ready now.
The football match must be over by now.
He must have left his wallet in the car.
He must work hard to earn a living for his family.
You must stop smoking now or you'll die of lung cancer.
I haven't given them a ring for quite a long time. I must give them a call today.
You must have a working visa before you get a job in the United States.
That's a picture you really must see.
must not
prohibition = negative order
You mustn't leave the house until you have done your homework.
need not
absence of  obligation
You didn't need to help me yesterday and you needn't help me now.

could, would, may und might können in höflichen Fragen und Vorschlägen gebraucht werden. Dabei ist, je nachdem welches modale Hilfszeitwort gebraucht wird, ein bestimmter Höflichkeitsgrad festzustellen.

degree of politeness modal auxiliary example
somewhat polite could Could I open the window?
 polite would Would you open the window?
quite polite may May I open the window?
very polite might Might I open the window?

Wenn es um die Wahrscheinlichkeit geht, verwendet man in der nachstehend gezeigten Abstufung may, might und must.

degree of probability modal auxiliary example
somewhat probable may

There may be a thunderstorm this afternoon.
It is possible they may have called the police while we were out.
He might be right.
The boy might have stolen the money, but it seems unlikely.
highly probable must They must be mistaken.
It must have rained last night. My car is still wet.

Der Satzbau mit den modalen Hilfszeitwörtern

Der Aussagesatz

Ergänzung / en Subjekt Hilfsverb / en Verneinung Hauptverb Ergänzung / en
In Britain you have to   drive on the right.
  He will not have done it by tomorrow.
  She need not  buy such an expensive car.
In London we might   visit the Tower.
  You 'll have to   go to the dentist's.
Of course this can be   viewed from a different angle.
But they would not speak French properly.
Honestly you  should not take a taxi.
So they can 't form the perfect tenses.
  They may   open the windows.
Now she will not be able to free herself.
Next time you must   visit us.
  John must not open the garage door.
  Laura might   work in my shop.
  I shall not receive my passport before 6.
This time Joan ought to   enjoy the play.
  We could have   mistaken the opening hours.
For them he need not have made so much coffee.
  We dare not ask for some more money.
As a child she used to   believe that the sea air did her good.
Ergänzung / en Subjekt Hilfsverb / en Verneinung Hauptverb Ergänzung / en

Der Fragesatz

Fragewort Hilfsverb + Verneinung Subjekt Adverb Hauptverb Ergänzung / en
  Need I really peel this orange?
  Dare you really take the last sandwich?
  Shouldn't Sheila   stay at home on a night like this?
How often should he   take this medicine?
  Wouldn't you   want to referee the rugby match?
  Will everybody please have their tickets ready?
  Shall we   go to the theatre tonight?
  Might they   have left their keys in the car?
  Can you please lend me your road atlas?
  Must I   give you some money again?
Where will we   find the broken lock?
  Oughtn't we   bring in the geraniums?
  Shouldn't they   refrain from smoking here?
  Must I always water the flowerbeds?
What would we now find in the cellar?
When shall I   make some tea for you, Linda?
  Could you   switch on the light for me, Harry?
  May we   use your cellular phone, sir?
  Oughtn't she   to have arrived by now?
What must you   do in your country to get a driver's license?
Why should we   have called you?
Fragewort Hilfsverb + Verneinung Subjekt Adverb Hauptverb Ergänzung / en

Der Gebrauch der modalen Hilfsverben in tag questions

Die Verben im Englischen, die als Frageanhängsel vorkommen, sind Formen von

                       - be (am, is, are, was, were)
                       - have (have, has, had)
                       - do (do, does, did)

- und die modalen Hilfsverben.

Ein bejahter Satz wird häufig von einem verneinten Frageanhängsel gefolgt.

Ein verneinter Satz wird häufig von einem bejahten Frageanhängsel gefolgt.


main clause question tag question mark
affirmative negative  
You are coming with me, aren't you ?
We have worked all night, haven't we ?
I am strong, aren't I ?
He did it, didn't he ?
They had been late, hadn't they ?
She always orders pizza, doesn't she ?
You would have believed it, wouldn't you ?
I can bring my brother, can't I ?
You will eat your porridge, won't you ?
I may leave now, mayn't I ?
We shall overcome, shan't we ?
They could ask us, couldn't they ?
negative affirmative  
He is not very nice, is he ?
We were not supposed to act like this, were we ?
He hasn't brushed up his Spanish, has he ?
You are not doing the washing-up are you ?
Greg hasn't bought the cashmere scarf, has he ?
Your brother didn't steal the cars, did he ?
That can't be true, can it ?
He shouldn't do it, should he ?
You won't be disappointed, will you ?
She can't ride a motorbike, can she ?
There wouldn't be too much to do, would there ?
She won't be much happier there, will she ?
Ferienparadies Azoren
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