How to use Luxembourgish Modal Verbs – 2

In the first part of this lesson you’ve learned how the Luxembourgish modal verbs kënnen, mussen and wäerten can be used. In this second part of the lesson of the Luxembourgish modal verbs we’ll take a closer look at the verbs sollen, däerfen and wëllen.

Modals derive their name from the fact that they always modify another verb. And so they are [always] used in tandem with the infinitive form of another verb, as in:

Ech muss muer op Bréissel fueren. – I must (have to) to drive to Brussel tomorrow.

The infinitive at the end may be left off when its meaning is clear:

Ech muss muer op Bréissel. – I must [go/travel] to Brussel tomorrow.

Whether implied or stated, the infinitive is always placed at the end of the sentence.

 3 Luxembourgish Modal Verbs

Let’s concentrate  in this lesson on däerfen, sollen, and wëllen to really understand what each one means—and how to properly use it.

Däerfen — be allowed to, may

The main definition of däerfen is “may” or “to be allowed to.” This is the most common use for the verb and you will find yourself using it quite often.

Beispiller (examples)

Du däerfs do net parken. – You are not permitted to park there.
Däerf  ech hei fëmmen? – May I smoke here?
Hien däerf den Owend net erausgoen. – He is not allowed to go out this evening.

Sollen — should, ought to, supposed to

The main definition of sollen is “should” or “to be supposed to.”

Beispiller (examples)

Soll ech dir eppes aus der Stad matbréngen? – Should I bring you something from the city?
Dir sollt net vergiessen Är Medikamenter ze huelen.  – You should not forget to take your medecine.
De Film soll ganz gutt sinn. – The movie is supposed to be very good.

Wëllen — want

The verb wëllen means to want (in the sense of  having the intention of , or to wish or of requesting something in an informal way)

Beispiller (examples)

Meng Duechter wëll gär a Frankräich wunne goen. – My daughter would like to live in France.
Ech wëll eng Glace. – I want an ice cream.
Mäi Chef wëll, datt ech méindes méi laang schaffen. – My chief wants (requests) me to work longer on Mondays.

Tricks and Peculiarities

Some Luxembourgish modals take on a special meaning in certain contexts. Hatt kann Englesch, for example, means She knows English. This is short for “Hatt kann Englesch… schwätzen/schreiwen/verstoen/liesen.” which means “She can speak/write/understand/read English.”

The modal verb mussen has no simple past tense (Imparfait). This means that you have to use it in the perfect tense in connection with the auxiliary verb hunn. And the past participle is mussen / missen.

In the negative, mussen is replaced by däerfen when the meaning is the prohibitive must not:

Hie muss dat net maachen, means He doesn’t have to do that.

BUT to express:

He must not do that, (not allowed to do that), the Luxembourgish would be,

Hien däerf dat net maachen.

There you have it!

Practice your modal verbs and keep building up your vocabulary.

I hope that this lesson was helpful. You can as well watch this lesson on youtube.


If your Sproochentest is coming up, remember that I offer private lessons for those of you who intend to take the language test to acquire Luxembourgish nationality. In these lessons we are going to focus on the oral expression. You will acquire the necessary vocabulary so to be able to talk with confidence about the most frequently asked topics of the Sproochentest.

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