How to use the Luxembourgish verb DÄERFEN

Däerfen to be allowed to is one of the five modal verbs that are so essential in Luxembourgish. A modal verb, is almost always used with another verb in a sentence. Däerfen can take on a few different meanings, depending on its context:

Däerfen is different from its English equivalent may, allowed/permitted to. This makes it a little more challenging to study, but it’s so important that students fully understand its various meanings. 

But the first step is to learn how to conjugate däerfen:


Present Tense: ech däerf – du däerfs – hien / hatt däerf – mir däerfen – dir däerft – si däerfen

Conditional: ech däerft – du däerfts – hien / hatt däerft – mir däerften – dir däerft – si däerften

Past participle: däerfen: Ech hunn net däerfen 3 Deeg Congé huelen. – I have not been allowed to take 3 days off.

1. Däerfen – to be allowed to

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)

  • Däerf ech dobausse spillen, Mamma? – May I play outside, Mom?
  • D’Kanner däerfen den Owend méi laang opbleiwen.  The children are allowed to stay  up longer tonight. 


When it comes to däerfen, it seems that both English and Luxembourgish speakers make the same mistake. 

Did your English teacher ever reply to you with I don’t know if you can, but you certainly may in response to a question you formulated with Can I…, instead of May I…?

Luxembourgers share the same habit as you can compare in these two sentences which have completely different meanings:

  • Kann ech op d’Toilette goen, wgl? –  Can I go to the washroom, please?
  • Däerf ech op d’Toilette goen, wgl? – May I go to the washroom, please?

2. Däerfen –  polite requests

Däerfen can also be used as a form of politeness when asking a question or making a request.

  • Däerft ech Iech eppes froen?  – May I ask you (formal) something?
  • Däerf ech erakommen?  – May I come in?

3. Däerfen – a probability

There are also times when you may want to use däerfen to indicate a strong probability that something will happen. To form this meaning of däerfen, always use the conditional.

  • Hatt däerft um 8 Auer hei sinn. – She will most likely be here at 8 o’clock.
  • De Projet däerft ëm déi 6 Méint daueren. – The project ought to last about 6 months.

4. Net Däerfen – a prohibition

When you add an infinitive verb to net däerfen, you express the prohibition of something.

  • Hei däerf een net parken. – You are not allowed to park here.
  • Hien hätt dat net däerfe maachen. – He should not have done that.


Let’s practice:

Translate the following sentences into Luxembourgish:

  1. You (informal) are not allowed to go out today.
  2. May I eat a piece of cake?
  3. We were not allowed to smoke there.

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